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Jun 29

Connecting the value chain from farm to fork: National EFP Summit will take place again this November

Posted on Jun 29 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) June 29, 2017 – As a member of The National Environmental Farm Plan (NEFP) steering committee, Alberta Barley invites Agri-food stakeholders from across the value chain to attend the second annual NEFP Summit in Ottawa this November. Building on unprecedented support from last year’s summit, attendees will further develop this national standard designed to connect environmentally sustainable practices at the farm level with global food buyers’ growing need to source sustainable ingredients.

The Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a voluntary, whole-farm, self-assessment tool that helps farmers and ranchers identify and build on environmental strengths, as well as mitigate risks on their operations. The NEFP would not be a replacement program, but rather a harmonization effort across the existing EFP programs nationwide. Through a producer-driven national standard, the NEFP will be able to ensure consistency for buyers, regardless of where in Canada they source their products.

“The EFP has been a well-received and valuable tool for producers who have completed it,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair and member of the NEFP steering, verification and communications committees. “This initiative indicates producers want to demonstrate the environmental practices they already have in place, and are continuously looking to improve these efforts on their farms.”

The 2017 National EFP Summit will bring stakeholders together once again to learn about the NEFP steering committee’s progress and participate in valuable conversations that will further guide the national harmonization effort.

“The NEFP builds on the EFP’s more than 20 years of success within the farm and ranch community,” said Erin Gowriluk, NEFP Summit Chair and Policy and Government Relations Manager with the Alberta Wheat Commission. “The credibility of the EFP program has already attracted several major buyers. But the national standard will lay the groundwork for consistent sourcing from coast-to-coast while ensuring that the process continues to be driven by producers.”

The NEFP is well underway with work being led by a steering committee made up of stakeholders representing the entire agri-food value chain. Four sub committees are working toward developing a national protocol as it relates to data collection, standards and verification, all of which will be supported through comprehensive communications and stakeholder outreach. National EFP Summit attendees will hear from each committee, along with subject matter experts, about the progress to-date. These updates will serve to start a dialogue amongst attendees that will further guide this national standard.

Stakeholders can learn more about the NEFP and register for the 2017 National EFP Summit by visiting www.nationalefp.ca.The NEFP is always welcoming new stakeholders to become involved in shaping this made-in-Canada solution. Interested organizations should contact co-chairs Drew Black or Paul Watson.  Visit www.nationalefp.ca to view stakeholders currently involved.

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

Jun 20

Alberta Barley urges farmers to participate in Federal Government Consultations for A Food Policy for Canada

Posted on Jun 20 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) June 20, 2017– Alberta Barley is urging farmers to participate in online consultations for the Government of Canada’s A Food Policy for Canada. As primary producers of Canada’s food supply, farmer input will be integral in developing this new policy that aims to address issues related to the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food.

Establishing a national food policy is a priority that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined to Canada’s Agricultural and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, in a 2015 mandate letter. In response, MacAulay announced May 29, 2017 that the Government of Canada will consult with all Canadians to support the development of A Food Policy for Canada.

“We are pleased to see the federal government engaging with stakeholders across the food industry,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair. “The input of farmers in particular will add perspective to this complex policy objective.”

A Food Policy for Canada will be the first of its kind for the Government of Canada and will, in part, explore the agriculture industry’s relationship to food. This includes producers’ commitment to conserving soil, water and air and growing high-quality food.

“Providing feedback on our use of environmentally sustainable practices, as well as the ability to adapt to changing conditions, will show the federal government our contribution to the long-term, reliable and abundant supply of safe, healthy food,” Lenz said.

The online consultation is the first of a number of engagement activities planned with a wide range of participants to inform the development of a food policy.

As primary producers at the beginning of Canada’s food value chain, it is important that individual farmers make their voices heard by participating in the online survey by July 27, 2017. Alberta Barley will be engaged in the consultation process and will see this as a policy priority in the coming months.

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

Jun 8

Making the Grade expands to two locations for 2017

Posted on Jun 8 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) June 8, 2017 – Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC), Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) once again invite producers to a hands-on grain grading workshop following last year’s highly successful event.

This year, Making the Grade has grown to include two locations. Hosted at the Beaverlodge Research Station July 25 and Olds College July 27, each event will include sessions from experienced industry speakers on barley, canola, pulse and wheat grading.

“Making the Grade is a valuable tool in addressing knowledge gaps in grain grading,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair and regional representative for AWC. “Expanding to two locations will allow more producers the opportunity to learn about the importance of grain grading and factors affecting quality.”

Producers will participate in hands-on grading workshops for barley, canola, wheat and pulses. Speakers, representing organizations including the Canadian Grains Commission, the Canadian International Grains Institute and the Canola Council of Canada, will guide participants through the details of grading parameters and practices. As well, representatives from Rahr Malting and SGS will be speaking.

Grading for all crops – barley canola, pulse and wheat – is an important part of producers’ bottom line.

Space is limited and early registration is encouraged. Early bird registration is $75 until July 11 and $100 after that until tickets are sold out. Complete registration information and details are available on each host commission’s website.

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

May 29

Team Alberta urges federal government to retain deferred cash purchase ticket option for farmers

Posted on May 29 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) May 29, 2017 – Team Alberta is warning the federal government of serious financial consequences to farmers if they lose the ability to use deferred cash tickets to manage wide variations in their income.

The potential end of the cash ticket deferral system was included unexpectedly as part of the federal government’s Budget 2017. Team Alberta’s submission to the federal finance department’s consultation process summarizes the specific necessity and utility of this tool in farmers’ business planning strategies and tax management.

“We believe that the government has overlooked the severe impact that farmers would face if this tool was no longer available,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “Farmers operate with a high degree of income volatility due to factors beyond our control and the cash ticket deferral mechanism allows us to manage risk and balance our income to ensure we can still remain profitable.”

The government maintains that the cash ticket deferral mechanism is out-dated since the single desk was dismantled in 2012. But Team Alberta points out that farmers have been exposed to the same income volatility regardless of the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) status, facing many of the same risks they did when the mechanism was first introduced in 1973. Data from the Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) indicates that the percentage of cash tickets deferred annually has remained fairly stable throughout and following the end of the CWB’s monopoly.

Team Alberta further points out that removing this management tool could hamper Canada’s ability to increase agri-food exports from $55 to 75 billion per year by 2025 as outlined in the recent federal budget.

“Canada’s agriculture industry is poised and ready to meet these targets,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “But we will only be able to meet them if the government works with farmers to eliminate barriers that impede growth.”

Team Alberta’s submission provides examples from accounting firm MNP LLP that demonstrate impact on farm businesses – whether partnerships, sole proprietors, or corporate family farms. The information from MNP shows that removal of the deferral option will have a disproportionate and negative impact on farm operations relative to non-farm Canadian businesses of similar sizes.

“The existing policy allowing for deferral of cash tickets is an important tool in ensuring that farm operations, whatever their business structure, are treated fairly relative to other Canadian businesses,” said Greg Sears, Alberta Canola Chair.

D’Arcy Hilgartner, Alberta Pulse Growers Chair said: “We have a responsibility as a country to ensure that our farmers remain profitable and sustainable. The consequences of this proposed policy change would be dire for many Canadian farmers and severely limit the sector’s ability to meet growth objectives.”

Team Alberta’s submission can be viewed online here. 

Media Contacts:

Victoria Russell
Interim Communications Manager
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

May 16

Transport Canada comes through for western Canadian farmers with historic announcement

Posted on May 16 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, AB) May 16, 2017: Alberta Barley is thanking the federal government and Transport Minister Marc Garneau today for its commitment to farmers through the tabling of Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act which seeks to amend  the Canada Transportation Act.

Details emerged this morning from Transport Canada on the proposed legislation, which will introduce multiple benefits for western Canadian farmers, including the right for shippers to seek reciprocal penalties in service agreements with railways, to bring balance and accountability to those responsible for service failures.

“Today’s announcement is fantastic news, we feel like we’ve been heard and we’re glad the government is taking our concerns seriously,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair. “While we have yet to fully analyze the proposed legislation, we are cautiously optimistic that with the introduction of reciprocal penalties this is the beginning of a balanced transportation system for Western Canada’s farmers.”

Lenz said that Alberta Barley has been working on grain transportation issues with government, especially since the 2013 bumper crop, when widespread system failures plagued farmers and shippers as grains were not delivered on time to their market destinations.

Min. Garneau also announced an updated definition of “adequate and suitable” service, which most feel is both lacking and long overdue, as well as introducing a new mechanism, Long Haul Interswitching, and continuous data tracking on rates, service and performance.

“If the Transportation Modernization Act is implemented properly, it could revolutionize the movement of goods in our sector,” said Lenz, adding the accountability that appears to be coming for railways will benefit Western Canada’s grain farmers.

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

Apr 27

Grain Commission should scrap user fees in 2018 to reduce surplus

Posted on Apr 27 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) April 27, 2017 – Alberta Barley is asking the Canadian Grain Commission to reduce user fees to $0 for the 2018 crop year in order to start balancing the books from the over $107 million being carried in the CGC revolving fund.

To reduce further growth of the surplus, the CGC has now proposed a reduction in weighing and inspection fees for ships from $1.86 to $1.42/MT, effective Aug. 1, 2017. This proposal is now being vetted in the Canada Gazette. While any reduction is a good step, Alberta Barley would have preferred an immediate temporary elimination of fees in order to more quickly return the excess fees accumulated since August 2013 to the marketplace, and therefore to farmers who ultimately bear the cost.

While Alberta Barley recognizes that a $1.42/MT fee will likely be in place effective Aug. 1, 2017, a one year fee elimination in 2018 would address some concerns of its members. With an operating budget of about $60 million, the CGC will have more than enough in the revolving fund to operate for a year’s time.

“Even though it’s impossible to return every penny of the previous overcharges, we believe this solution is the best case scenario given the circumstances,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair. “The reduction to $1.42 will allow the CGC to slow the accumulation of surplus user fees, which is a good first step.”

The CGC began public consultation March 1, 2017, on what to do with its surplus, estimated at $107 million as of September 2016. The current fee schedule is set to expire April 1, 2018. There is also a simultaneous consultation on a new fee schedule to go into effect at that time.

The User Fees Act indicates that user fees should only be used to cover the cost of providing the service for which they are being charged. It appears a one-year fee suspension is the fairest way to return a portion of the accumulated surplus to the industry, and therefore producers who were effectively overcharged.

For more information, contact:

Trevor Bacque
Communications Manager
403-219-6266
tbacque@albertabarley.com

Apr 26

Team Alberta holds call with minister about the dire status of unharvested acres

Posted on Apr 26 By: Trevor Bacque

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE…

(Calgary, Alberta) April 26, 2017 – Team Alberta held a conference call this morning with Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier and senior officials from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) to stress the need for immediate intervention into the dire situation with unharvested crops around the province.

Team Alberta is requesting the government and AFSC allow farmers to dispose of last year’s crop as they see fit without affecting their insurance coverage, to minimize further issues ahead of spring seeding. Seeding has already been delayed in many parts of the province due to heavy snow. There are currently one million unharvested acres in Alberta farmers’ fields.

“We must move away from field to field assessment and begin geographic write-offs in order to begin working on this year’s crop,” said Jason Lenz, chair of Alberta Barley. “There’s simply too much ground to cover and not enough time.”

AFSC and government officials confirmed that they have streamlined their internal processes to allow crop inspectors to make quicker decisions, such as making determinations on quality downgrades caused by mice excreta. The provincial and federal government are in talks regarding future changes to the Wildlife Compensation program to accommodate this in the future.

Farmers are currently faced with a near-impossible task: wait for snow to melt and land to dry out, harvest last year’s crop, repair and prep fields and plant the 2017 crop all within the next six weeks.

“With killing frosts beginning by mid-September in north-central Alberta and the Peace Region, farmers are now on an extraordinarily tight timeline,” said Kevin Bender, vice-chair of Alberta Wheat Commission. “We must be given freedom to operate to avoid another disaster this fall.”

Every passing day is one step closer to a wide spread disaster if farmers are not allowed to seed until they meet with one of the AFSC’s 130 crop inspectors. Team Alberta wants expedited insurance payouts to be provided for farmers in the most affected areas of the province.

“It’s unrealistic that farmers will be able to have any success in 2017 unless the government and AFSC allow for special provisions during this serious situation,” said Greg Sears, chair of Alberta Canola Producers Commission. “

With snow still falling, crop quality will continue to degrade and make it that much harder for farmers to pick up and market what’s left on the ground.

“We must continue to work collaboratively with the government and AFSC, but time is running out for thousands of Alberta farmers,” said D’Arcy Hilgartner, chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission. “We are working to ensure that harvest and seeding can go as smoothly as possible from here on out.”

Team Alberta, government officials and AFSC are committed to ongoing meetings as the spring progresses.

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
tbacque@albertabarley.com
(403) 219-6266

Megan Madden
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Canola Producers Commission
megan@albertacanola.com

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

Amanda Ryan
Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
amanda.ryan@albertawheat.com
(780) 454-0844

Apr 24

Team Alberta calls for immediate provincial government action with unharvested crops

Posted on Apr 24 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) April 24, 2017 – Team Alberta will meet with the province’s agriculture minister and representatives from the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) this Wednesday to request immediate action regarding approximately one million unharvested acres still sitting in farmers’ fields throughout the province.

Team Alberta will continue to recommend that farmers in the hardest hit areas of Alberta be provided with options for removing last year’s crop without having their insurance payout compromised. This recommendation is consistent with the message Team Alberta has carried in discussions with the provincial government throughout the fall and winter of 2016 in anticipation of the spring seeding season.

“In many areas, destroying last year’s crop is the only solution that ensures farmers can seed this year’s crop early enough to avoid fall frost damage,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “We need quick action from the government to ensure farmers avoid a repeat of the circumstances they faced last year.”

The crop insurance program requires that farmers obtain a pre-harvest assessment before putting their crop to another use even though it may not be salvageable. Heavy snowfall over the Easter weekend likely ensured that crops in hardest hit areas will have limited commercial value. Additionally, weather forecasts for this week predict snow in regions throughout the province. Added snowfall will deteriorate conditions even more, making harvest virtually impossible and further jeopardizing the viability of this year’s crop.

“If harvesting simply isn’t an option because of timing and wet conditions, the procedures around crop insurance payouts will need to be adjusted so farmers’ crops aren’t compromised two years in a row,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair.

“Farmers that were hit with more wet weather last week are even worse off since the conditions aren’t conducive to harvesting,” said Greg Sears, Alberta Canola Producers Commission Chair. “With more snowfall predicted this week, the reality is that farmers in certain areas won’t have a viable crop again this year if options aren’t immediately made available to them.”

“Last year’s unseasonably wet conditions led the Alberta Government to declare a state of agricultural disaster,” said D’Arcy Hilgartner, Alberta Pulse Growers Chair. “Our intent with this meeting is to work with the government to find solutions that ensures last year’s disaster doesn’t put this year’s crop at risk.”

Team Alberta will keep farmers updated on potential options for unharvested acres following discussions with the provincial government.


Media Contacts:

Victoria Russell
Alberta Wheat Commission
vrussell@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

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

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

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

Apr 12

Farmer directors deliver Alberta’s grain industry messaging and priorities in Ottawa

Posted on Apr 12 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, Alberta) April 12, 2017 – Team Alberta, along with the Grain Growers of Canada, were in Ottawa last week meeting with various parliamentarians to discuss priorities for Alberta grain farmers to ensure a viable and profitable crop sector.

“This collaborative outreach couldn’t have happened at a better time. There is a lot of good news for agriculture right now, most notably Agriculture’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the federal budget and Canada’s goal to grow agri-food exports to $75 billion annually by 2025,” said Mike Ammeter, a Director for Alberta Canola. “We were pleased by the prospect  that the government views agriculture as an engine for growth and are committed  to collaborate with them to unleash that growth.”

Alberta’s four major crop commissions that make up Team Alberta agree that aggressive progress in transportation, trade, research  and innovation are not only needed  to achieve Canada’s ambitious growth plan, but they are essential for our competitiveness. While in Ottawa, Team Alberta also raised the issue of cash ticket deferrals and the impact it may have on their membership.

“As farmers, our success is directly tied to the effectiveness  of Canada’s transportation system and the ability to get our product to market, so we continue to share the message that accountability is the only way to make real gains,” added Jeff Nielsen, President of Grain Growers of Canada. “It is imperative a system is put in place that gives shippers the ability to negotiate meaningful, reciprocal, service level agreements and ensure a basic level of accountability for rail companies.”

“Alberta grain farmers are major exporters  and to grow our exports we need free trade agreements with key global markets, such as the United States (U.S.), China, European Union (E.U.) and Japan,” added Warren Sekulic, Director with the Alberta Wheat Commission. “Non- tariff barriers to trade are our number one concern for market access. Biotech and pesticide regulations, and phytosanitary measures continue to impede our crops from getting into foreign markets.”

Alberta’s farmers are among the most innovative and sustainable  in the world. They adopt and invest in technology, research  and innovation that will increase efficiency and reduce costs, but also have tremendous benefits to the environment.  Many of these practices stem from investment by growers in science and research.

“Team Alberta recommended that the federal government put peer reviewed science and risk based approach at the core of its regulatory decisions and future investments in innovation,” said Tim van der Hoek, Director with the Alberta Pulse Growers.

The Team Alberta outreach mission included a delegation  of Directors and staff from the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Wheat Commission, and Grain Growers of Canada. The delegation met with representatives from all political parties and shared a united message about how the government can support Canadian farmers.

“Alberta is a significant contributor to Canada’s agricultural economy and Team Alberta saw tremendous value for our members  sitting down with officials in Ottawa to discuss how the Canadian government could have a role to help achieve greater  success for Alberta’s agriculture industry,” said Dave Bishop, Vice-Chair of Alberta Barley.

Media Contacts:

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

Lindsey Ehman
Public Affairs Manager
Grain Growers of Canada
(613)-233-9954
lehman@ggc-pgc.ca

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

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

Mar 27

Termination of the cash ticket deferral program would have significant consequences for Alberta barley farmers

Posted on Mar 27 By: Ellen Cottee

(Calgary, AB) March 27, 2017 – Alberta barley farmers are extremely concerned at the prospect of the federal Liberals’ proposal to scrap the long-standing cash ticket deferral program, announced last week in the 2017 federal budget.

An estimated 80 per cent of Alberta farmers participate in the deferred payment program on sales for barley, wheat, oats, flaxseed, canola and rye. Farmers have used the program for more than 40 years, as a way of ensuring they have appropriate cash flow year-to-year.

Alberta Barley is working hard to help the federal government understand the potentially significant harmful impacts associated with the elimination of the ability to defer payment for grain sales.

“This isn’t just a program used by one or two farmers. Deferring payments is very common and used by an overwhelming majority of Alberta farmers,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair and Bentley-area farmer. “If you do away with deferred cash purchase tickets, an inordinate number of farmers are going to be negatively impacted.”

Due to the uneven nature of the timing of grain sales from year to year based on end users’ needs, farmers have, for decades, been allowed to defer portions of their income into the following year in order to balance farm revenue. The net effect on the federal treasury would appear to be neutral, however the impact on farm businesses from year-to-year would be significant.

By ending the deferral program, farmers would immediately be forced to restructure marketing and purchasing plans that are core to their businesses, and potentially drive decisions that are not market focused.

“Both capital and operating expenses are often planned around the ability to normalize income year-to-year. There will be significant impact on farmers if they are forced to revise a long-standing business practice,” said Lenz.

With spring planting rapidly approaching, the May 24, 2017, deadline for comments is not adequate for Alberta farmers to properly weigh in. Alberta Barley will strongly advocate on farmers’ behalf to address their concerns.

Anyone wishing to provide feedback to the government may do so by emailing consultation_tax_2017@canada.ca.

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

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