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Mar 16

Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada and Imidacloprid – Request for Member Action

Posted on Mar 16 By: Ellen Cottee

Dear members: 

As you may be aware, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada has proposed a re-evaluation decision for the imidacloprid. 

The proposed phase-out of the use of this insecticide is based on the perceived risk that imidacloprid may pose to aquatic invertebrates.

On behalf of our members and along with other cropping sector representatives, we are asking the PMRA and Health Canada to work alongside Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada roundtable of industry stakeholders to improve the quality of the data and information to which to base this important decision. It is imperative that sound science, peer review and due process are followed as this issue impacts not only the Canadian agricultural industry, but also our national food security. 

We are asking for our members to voice their input. Please read the letter linked here and if you are in agreement, please sign, date and email it to the Standing Committee and the PMRA contacts in the list provided here, copying only your respective MP and MLA. 

The deadline for submissions is March 23, 2017. 

Please do not hesitate to contact Policy and Market Development Manager Shannon Sereda if you have any questions or concerns. 

Feb 21

21% tax credit available for Alberta’s barley farmers

Posted on Feb 21 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) Feb. 21, 2017 – Alberta barley farmers who did not request a refund of their check-off dollars will qualify for a 2016 Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit.

The SR&ED credit allows farmers to claim the portion of their check-off dollars used to fund research. The rate for the 2016 tax year is 21 per cent.

“Investments in research are direct investments in our industry and farms,” said Alberta Barley board chair Jason Lenz. “21 per cent of the money Alberta Barley’s farmers have invested in check-off dollars is eligible for this tax credit.”

Research is Alberta Barley’s No. 1, farmer-driven investment to maximize barley’s potential. Alberta Barley funds and participates in more than 40 research projects that aim to create new opportunities for its members now and in the future. These projects are detailed on www.albertabarley.com/research.

“I want to thank Alberta barley farmers for entrusting their check-off dollars with us,” said Alberta Barley vice-chair David Bishop. “By investing in Alberta Barley’s research projects, each farmer is contributing to the future of their operation and the future of barley.”

To learn more about the program, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

For more information, contact:
Trevor Bacque
Communications Manager
(403) 219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

 

Feb 15

Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley launch new mentorship and leadership program

Posted on Feb 15 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) Wednesday, February 15, 2017 – This week the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley are launching the AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program, a new program to inspire future farm leaders through a leadership and mentorship experience.

“The AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program is about fostering a strong network of future agriculture leaders for a progressive and vibrant cropping industry in Alberta,” says Kevin Bender, Vice-Chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission and a member of the AdvancingAg Selection Committee. “The goal is to pair young agri-professionals – whether that is young farmers or those interested in a specific career in the agriculture industry – with leaders who can share their knowledge and experience and facilitate key professional development opportunities.”

AdvancingAg is a 10 to 12 month program that will pair selected mentees, aged 18-35 with a carefully selected mentor who is passionate about the agriculture industry, eager to share their experience and help shape the professional growth of a young agri-professional. Mentors and mentees will be paired up based on the interests and career goals of the mentee.

“We felt it was important to launch a program like this for the cropping sector because we want to advance the skills of young agri-professionals as they start their careers and provide them with industry-specific training, networking and learning opportunities,” added Dave Bishop, Vice-Chair of Alberta Barley and a member of the AdvancingAg Selection Committee. “The program will be flexible and tailored to the goals and aspirations of the mentee.”

Young agri-professionals interested in applying to become a mentee in the AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program can visit www.advancingag.ca to complete an application. The deadline for applications is March 13, 2017. In the first year of launching the program we will be selecting eight mentees to participate, with the goal of increasing to 15 mentees in the following years. Each mentee will be paired with a mentor, as well as provided a budget for professional development opportunities, and AdvancingAg will host a workshop-style leadership forum for the successful applicants.

Visit www.advancingag.ca for more information about this exciting new program, or follow us on Twitter @AdvancingAg.

Media Contacts:
Amanda Ryan
amanda.ryan@albertawheat.com
p. 403-219-7902
e. info@advancingag.ca

Ellen Cottee
ecottee@albertabarley.com
p. 403-219-7914
e. info@advancingag.ca

Dec 21

Minimizing the carbon levy

Posted on Dec 21 By: Trevor Bacque

 

Alberta Crop Commissions Working to Minimize Carbon Levy Impact

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Leduc, Alberta) December 21, 2016 – Alberta’s four major crop commissions, operating as Team Alberta, continue to work together to minimize the impact of the carbon levy on farmers.

In recent consultations with the provincial Climate Technology Task Force, Team Alberta advocated for many solutions-based changes to be considered, including research investments, and recognition that agriculture already contributes to reducing greenhouse gases.

In these meetings, Team Alberta recognized the farm fuel exemption for a significant input, but never waivered that the full impact of the tax on input costs, transportation and prices that farmers receive for their crops remains unclear.

“Producers are natural leaders in carbon capture and an important part of the climate change solution,” said Allison Ammeter, Chair of Alberta Pulse Growers. Kevin Auch, Chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission adds, “Agricultural crops are great users of carbon dioxide (CO2) as part of their metabolism to produce essential oxygen through photosynthesis, making producers who grow crops natural leaders in carbon capture and sequestration.”

In a series of meetings with provincial cabinet ministers, Team Alberta has reinforced that farmers rely on global markets and cannot pass the increased costs onto their customers. Farmers should be recognized for the contributions they have already made to reducing greenhouse gases through practices such as conservation tillage. In addition, Team Alberta cautioned the government against imposing an increased tax burden on exporters, processors, and crop input manufacturers that will reduce market competitiveness.

Team Alberta has also called for more funding for research into technologies that would benefit farmers, as well representation on the Emissions Reduction Alberta panel that allocates research expenditures.

“The tremendous growth in the cropping sector can be traced back to research investment, and adoption of new practices and technologies,” said Jason Lenz, Chair of Alberta Barley. “Sustainable cropping practices in Alberta, which are among the most globally advanced, contribute to productivity increases that produce more yield per acre using less resources and more research can be done for further advancements.”

Continuous improvement in land management practices and a strong commitment by farmers to address soil degradation have resulted in crop productivity increasing at twice the rate of increases in GHG emissions between 1990 and 2013. In 2000, for the first time in Canada’s history, agricultural soil sequestered more carbon than was emitted.

Team Alberta met with Alberta’s Health and Deputy Minister Sarah Hoffman, as well as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier and Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips to discuss climate change and the work that producers have done in this regard.

“Climate change policies aimed at the cropping sector must be fluid in nature,” added Greg Sears, Chair of Alberta Canola. “Economic and environmental conditions change rapidly and producers employ different production practices for diverse growing regions.”

The cropping sector is engaged on this file as farmers are an important part of the climate change solution. Team Alberta will continue to represent our members with the provincial government and advocate for a thriving and competitive agriculture industry in Alberta.

Team Alberta is made up of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission and Alberta Barley. Together the organizations represent over 43,000 farms across Alberta.

 

Media Contacts:
Trevor Bacque
Communications Manager
Alberta Barley
(403) 219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Dec 9

Jason Lenz elected as new chair of Alberta Barley

Posted on Dec 9 By: Trevor Bacque
Region three director had served as vice-chair for the last two years


Dec. 8, 2016 (Banff, AB):
Jason Lenz has been unanimously elected as the new chair of Alberta Barley following today’s board meeting. Lenz was first elected as vice-chair at the 2014 AGM and served two years in that role.

The changing of the guard comes after region three director-at-large Mike Ammeter termed out at Alberta Barley after serving on the board of directors for the last six years.

Lenz was acclaimed in the region three director election this November and now begins his second three-year term, which extends until 2019. Region one director Dave Bishop of Barons was elected as vice-chair, replacing Lenz.

“I’m certainly excited to be the chair of Alberta Barley,” said Lenz, who farms near Bentley in west-central Alberta. “It’s a big responsibility that I am looking forward to with both returning directors and new faces, as well. We have appreciated Mike’s leadership on our board for the last two years. Now, with a couple years of experience, I’m optimistic I can help lead Alberta Barley together with eight other talented directors.”

Lenz farms 2,500 acres of canola, wheat, barley and faba beans and operates a small cow/calf commercial herd. He first joined Alberta Barley as a delegate in the fall of 2009. Since then, he has served on Alberta Barley’s research, policy and governance committees, the GrainsWest magazine board and was the Alberta Barley representative for the Barley Council of Canada for two years.

Other new additions to the board of directors include Neil Gorda of Willingdon, who was acclaimed in region four following Bernie Klammer’s two successful terms as a director. In the director-at-large election, Brian Sewell of Blackie was elected after a three-way race, with ballots being cast by eligible producers at all six regional meetings. Both men will begin their three-year terms immediately.

For more information, please contact:
Trevor Bacque
Alberta Barley Communications Manager
(403) 219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Nov 3

Barley farmers applaud reciprocal penalties, continued investment in transportation

Posted on Nov 3 By: Ellen Cottee

Nov. 3, 2016 (Calgary, AB): Alberta Barley is very pleased with the Liberal government’s Transportation 2030 strategic plan that will include the long-awaited provision of reciprocal penalties for railways in service level agreements. The proposed amendments to the Canada Transportation Act outlined by federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau would create balanced accountability for system failures between shippers and railway companies.

Today in Montréal, Garneau’s announcement is part of a broader $10.1 billion stimulus to the country’s transportation sector. This legislation will be introduced by Garneau during the House of Commons’ spring session in 2017.

“This is the news we’ve been waiting to hear from government after many years of work on grain transportation issues” said Mike Ammeter, Alberta Barley chair and Sylvan Lake-area farmer. “Reciprocal penalties and an updated definition of adequate and suitable service are welcome changes for western Canadian farmers. We are very happy to see that the concerns brought forward by farmers and other grain industry stakeholders have made an impact with the government, and we thank Minister Garneau and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay for their leadership on this file.”

In addition to reciprocal penalties and an improved definition of adequate and suitable service, the government said it will also improve access and timelines for Canadian Transportation Agency decisions and address the future of extended interswitching, currently set at 160 kilometres, along with the Maximum Revenue Entitlement.

“We’re expecting all aspects of the grain transportation value chain to be scrutinized and improved for the betterment of barley farmers here in Alberta,” added Ammeter. “Our livelihood depends on a functional rail transportation system, so seeing recognition of that by the transport minister has given us hope that rail service will improve moving forward.”

Alberta Barley prioritized making submissions and attending consultations—with provincial and federal agriculture and transportation ministries—and worked diligently on a submission in response to the CTA Review Report, also known as the Emerson Report. Our focus was on balanced accountability and on clarification of the definition of suitable and adequate service, and the positive outcomes that improvements to these areas would have for Alberta farmers. Both of these items were highlighted in the announcement in Montréal.

Alberta Barley is committed to continuing to work with the federal ministers of transport and agriculture to ensure legislation is introduced that will work for its members.

Over the last 30 years, the volume of goods transported by rail has doubled, but the infrastructure hasn’t kept up with demand, according to government.

For more information, please contact:
Trevor Bacque
Alberta Barley Communications Manager
(403) 219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Nov 1

CETA deal has long-term potential for Alberta Barley farmers

Posted on Nov 1 By: admin

Oct. 31, 2016 (Calgary, AB): Alberta Barley is pleased the hard work of the federal government has paid off with the official signing of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday in Brussels, Belgium.

The deal will give Canada unprecedented access to 500 million EU customers along with reduced, or altogether eliminated, tariffs for Canadian farmers. It is expected that an additional $100 million from grains and oilseeds exports will be pumped into the Canadian economy once CETA is fully implemented.

“CETA will allow barley farmers to have meaningful amounts of their product go into new markets, and it’s exciting because Alberta produces half the country’s barley on average,” said Alberta Barley chairman Mike Ammeter.

“With the grains and meat sectors both standing to benefit long-term, I think it’s definitely a win-win for Canadian farmers and ranchers.”

Subject to ratification, an estimated 65,000 tonnes of beef may be able to flow into the EU, which represents more than $600 million in economic stimulus. About 80 per cent of Canada’s harvested barley enters the livestock feed market on an annual basis. Over the last five years, Alberta alone harvested three million tonnes on average.

“There’s reason to believe that barley acres could rise within three years to satisfy the beef export demand,” said Ammeter.

Ammeter also thanked International Minister of Trade Chrystia Freeland her staff for the hard work to bring the CETA deal one major step closer to fruition.

Next, Canada will introduce legislation for CETA in the House of Commons as soon as possible. The EU, meanwhile, will vote on CETA’s ratification in the EU parliament followed by individual ratifications in all 28 EU member nations’ parliaments.

For more information, please contact:
Trevor Bacque
Alberta Barley Communications Manager
403-219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Oct 24

Team Alberta welcomes news of $10 million in provincial funding for the agriculture industry to work toward climate change advancements, reminds Government that more action is required to reduce carbon levy impacts for farmers

Posted on Oct 24 By: admin

(Calgary, Alberta) October 24, 2016 – Announced earlier today, the Provincial Government’s $10 million investment in the agriculture industry aimed at further developing meaningful climate change advancements is good news for Alberta’s farmers, but work still needs to be done to minimize the financial impact of the carbon levy. Just last week, Team Alberta met with Environment and Parks Minister Phillips and Agriculture and Forestry Minister Carlier and made recommendations to invest in agriculture – a sector already contributing to the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Team Alberta thanks both ministers for taking the time to meet and sees today’s news as a good first step from the Provincial Government in acknowledging that farmers are part of the climate change solution.

This funding will be transferred from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), formerly known as the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), to enhance four existing Growing Forward 2 (GF2) programs.

“Alberta farmers have been committed to voluntary, continuous improvements that help reduce GHG intensity for decades,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “The financial impact that the carbon levy will have on farmers still needs to be further addressed. But these initial on-farm cost-saving measures indicate that Minister Phillips appreciates these improvements and is taking steps to work with the agriculture industry to further mitigate and adapt to climate change. ”

“We appreciate that the Provincial Government is directing funding from the ERA to Alberta’s largest renewable resource,” said Mike Ammeter, Alberta Barley Chair. “Today’s news is an indication that the government recognizes that farmers should not be solely responsible for the costs of new technology and practice improvement to meet societal objectives.”

“Some of these GF2 programs were already fully subscribed and this investment will reopen them for application,” said Allison Ammeter, Alberta Pulse Growers Chair. “GF2 programs are extremely valuable to agriculture industry advancements and this is a good first step forward.”

“The four crop commissions will continue to represent the interests of our members and emphasize agriculture’s commitment to voluntary advancements that help to reduce GHG intensity – all in the absence of regulations,” said Greg Sears, Alberta Canola’s Chair. “We will continue to encourage further government action to reduce the impact of the carbon tax on farmers and sustain our industry’s competitiveness.”

Team Alberta has learned that the $10 million in funding will be allocated to the following four GF2 programs: On-Farm Energy Management, Irrigation Efficiency, On-Farm Solar Photovoltaics and Accelerating Innovation. Within the on-farm energy management program, funding will be increased from 35 percent coverage for eligible costs with a $50,000 cap to 70 percent coverage with a $750,000 cap.

For more information, please contact: 

Victoria Russell
Communications Specialist
Alberta Wheat Commission
(403) 219-7906
vrussell@albertawheat.com

Trevor Bacque
Communications Manager
Alberta Barley
(403) 219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Megan Madden
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Canola Producers Commission
(780) 454-0844
megan@albertacanola.com

Rachel Peterson
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Pulse Growers Commission
(780) 986-9398
rpeterson@pulse.ab.ca

Sep 26

Team Alberta meets with provincial transport and ag ministers to address imbalance of accountability and power in Canada’s rail transportation system

Posted on Sep 26 By: Trevor Bacque

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Calgary, Alberta) September 26, 2016 – Last week representatives from Team Alberta met with provincial Transport Minister Brian Mason and Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier to deliver producer-focused messaging that addresses the imbalance of accountability and market power in Canada’s grain transportation system. The meeting took place prior to a final consultation meeting of federal provincial territorial (FTP) transport ministers set to take place on September 28.

The September 28 FTP consultation meeting is a key step in concluding the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) review led by Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, and an important opportunity for provincial representatives to advocate for the needs of Alberta’s cropping sector. The CTA review is expected to be tabled in late 2016.

“Throughout the consultation process farmers and industry members have been united in their concerns about railway market power,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair.

“We are confident that our government will support our position by emphasizing the imbalance of power within the grain supply chain. Improved grain transportation service through commercial means is imperative in order to continue growing and diversifying Alberta’s economy,” added Allison Ammeter, Chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission.

Alberta’s economy has always been highly dependent on the rail transportation system to fulfill critical social needs and fuel economic growth. Agriculture represents one of Alberta’s major exports with total merchandise exports of $10 billion in 2015. Over 11 million tonnes of cropping sector commodities were exported from Alberta, almost completely by rail, and the demand for rail service is growing.

“Transportation remains a key concern to Albertan grain producers, and it is necessary to have proper mechanisms in place that provide shippers the ability to negotiate penalties and contract terms that are equal to those currently charged by the railways,” said Kevin Serfas, Regional Director with Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

“We need to create a competitive marketplace that allows growers to move grain in a predictable and efficient manner,” added Mike Ammeter, Chair of Alberta Barley.

Team Alberta promotes for key recommendations to ensure Alberta’s rail service will be more fair, predictable and efficient:

  • Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) that include mandatory financial consequences for failure to perform to binding contract terms. SLAs will ensure costs due to poor railway performance are not downloaded to farmers by shippers.
  • Retain the Maximum Revenue Entitlement (MRE) to protect producers against excessive rate increases, as freight costs are transferred to the producer by shippers.
  • Continuous improvement of interswitching, including the extended interswitching limits be made permanent and improved efficiencies are reviewed, such as increasing interchange capacities or extending limits to 250 kilometers to enable modern day train efficiencies.
  • Clearer definition of adequate and suitable. We believe that railways need to provide service according to the needs of their customers the way it would function a true commercial systems. This can be accomplished by adding a clear, demand based definition of “adequate and suitable” service in the Canada Transportation Act.

Team Alberta is made up of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission and Alberta Barley. Together the organizations represent over 43, 000 farms across Alberta.


Media Contact:
Trevor Bacque
Communications Manager
Alberta Barley
(403) 219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Amanda Ryan
Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
(403) 219-7902
amanda.ryan@albertawheat.com

Megan Madden
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Canola Producers Commission
(780) 454-0844
megan@albertacanola.com

Rachel Peterson
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Pulse Growers Commission
(780) 986-9398
rpeterson@pulse.ab.ca

Sep 21

Alberta Barley provides feedback to Minister of Transport regarding The Future of Transportation in Canada

Posted on Sep 21 By: admin

(Calgary, Alberta) September 21, 2016 – Alberta Barley, on behalf of the province’s 11,000 barley producers, has submitted feedback and recommendations to The Honourable Marc Garneau, federal Minister of Transport, regarding the Canadian Transportation Act (CTA), Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act (Bill C-30) and the upcoming Future of Transportation in Canada discussions.

“We are grateful for the federal government’s commitment to improve the transportation of grain by rail,” said Mike Ammeter, Alberta Barley chair. “Bill C-30 brought about much needed temporary relief for Western Canada’s grain, oilseed and pulse farmers, but we need permanent solutions that are market driven.

“We are hopeful that the discussions around The Future of Transportation in Canada will lead to meaningful, long-term change. As farmers and others continue to invest in plant breeding and improved agronomic practices, the resulting increase in production needs to have an assured path to market.”

Transportation is a critical issue for Canadian grain producers. The domestic market is not large enough to consume the majority of Canada’s agricultural production; we must export. Farmers and domestic agri-food industries rely on Canada’s rail system to get their products to market in order to remain competitive and capitalize on growing opportunities in established and new export markets, many of which are supported by Canada’s current trade agenda.

In February 2016, the Ministry of Transport tabled the CTA Review Report. Many western Canadian farmers indicated that the report failed to provide viable, long-term solutions that would improve Canada’s grain transportation system.

“Alberta’s producers need a permanent regulatory rail environment that will be market driven as well as improve rail capacity for shippers and ensure balanced accountability for service,” Ammeter said.

Alberta Barley has put forward three recommendations, which the commission believes could permanently improve rail service for western Canadian grain growers. These include balanced accountability along the grain logistic chain, enhancing the level of service provisions to tighten the definition of ‘adequate and suitable accommodation’ and retention of competitive provisions, such as 160-km interswitching and Maximum Revenue Entitlement.

“Agriculture accounts for close to seven per cent of Canada’s GDP,” Ammeter said. “Without an improvement in rail service and an increase in capacity, grain farmers will lose our competitive edge in global markets.”

Alberta Barley will continue to work with the federal government and represent Western Canada’s barley producers to ensure rail transportations meets their needs.

 

Media Contact:
Ellen Cottee
Communications Coordinator
403-219-7914
ecottee@albertabarley.com

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