Business Management
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

 

Covered Bridge Potato Chips has purchased new equipment and expanded its Hartland-area manufacturing facility with $867,000 in federal and provincial funding.

Government officials and company president Ryan Albright did not respond to a request from CBC News for details about when the funding was provided.

The announcement comes less than eight months after a strike and boycott at the plant ended with the signing of a new contract that included a pay increase for workers and more money for boot and clothing allowances.

The contract dispute was settled after a New Brunswick judge rejected an application by Albright to dismantle the union.

The nearly 836-square metre (9,000-square foot) expansion is expected to improve the company's efficiencies and optimize operating space to increase production of its old-fashioned kettle chips, which are made from dark russet potatoes, harvested from the Albright family's local farm. | READ MORE

 

Feb. 26, 2016, Prince Edward Island – Two Island farmers convicted of planting potatoes on a slope that was too steep were granted a partial victory from the P.E.I. Court of Appeal, writes CBC News. | READ MORE

For the past nine years, veteran automotive journalists have donated their time to act as judges in the only annual North American truck competition that tests pickup and van models head to head – while hauling payload and also towing.  

The Canadian Truck King Challenge started in 2006, and each year these writers return because they believe in this straightforward approach to testing and they know their readers want the results it creates.

I started it (and continue to do it) for the same reason – that, and my belief that after 40 years of putting trucks to work I know what’s important to Canadians. Now, that’s a long list of qualifications, but in a nutshell it’s the concept that a truck can be pretty, but that alone is just not enough. It had also better do its job – and do it well.

This year, nine judges travelled from Quebec, Saskatchewan and across Ontario to the Kawartha Lakes Region where we test the trucks each year.  All the entries are delivered to my 70-acre IronWood test site days before the judges arrive so we can prepare them for hauling and towing. In the meantime they are all outfitted with digital data collectors. These gadgets plug into the USB readers on each vehicle and transmit fuel consumption data to a company in Kitchener, Ont. (MyCarma) that records, compiles and translates those readings into fuel economy results that span the almost 4,000 test kilometers we accumulate over two long days.  

These results are as real world as it gets. The numbers are broken into empty runs, loaded results and even consumption while towing. Each segment is measured during test loops with the trucks being driven by five judges – one after the other. That’s five different driving styles, acceleration, braking and idling (we don’t shut the engines down during seat changes).  

The Head River test loop itself is also a combination of road surfaces and speed limits. At 17-kilometres long it runs on gravel, secondary paved road and highway. Speed limits vary from 50 to 80 km/h and the road climbs and drops off an escarpment-like ridgeline several times; plus it crosses the Head River twice at its lowest elevation. The off-road part of our testing is done on my own course at IronWood. Vans are not tested on the off-road course, though it’s noteworthy that the Mercedes Sprinter was equipped with a four-wheel drive system this year.

This is the third year that we have used the data collection system and released the final fuel consumption report that MyCarma prepares for the Truck King Challenge. It’s become one of our most anticipated results.

But how do we decide what to test? Well as anyone who’s bought a truck knows, the manufacturers never sleep, bringing something different to market every year. As the challenge looks to follow market trends, what and how we test must change each year too and the 2016 model year proved no different. We had a field of 14 contenders at IronWood this year covering four categories. They were as follows:

Full-size half-ton pickup truck

  • Ford F-150, Platinum, 3.5L, V6 EcoBoost, gas, 6-speed Auto
  • Ford F-150, XLT, 2.7L, V6 EcoBoost, gas, 6-speed Auto
  • Chevrolet Silverado, High Country, 6.2L, V8, gas, 8-speed Auto
  • Ram 1500, Laramie, 3L EcoDiesel, V6, diesel, 8-speed Auto

Mid-size pickup truck

  • Toyota Tacoma, TRD Off-Road, 3.5L V6, gas, 6-speed Auto
  • GMC Canyon, SLT, 2.8L Duramax, I-4 diesel, 6-speed Auto
  • Chevrolet Colorado, Z71, 3.6L V6, gas, 6-speed Auto

Full-size commercial vans

  • Ford Transit 250, 3.2L Power Stroke I-5 diesel, 6-speed Auto
  • Mercedes Sprinter 2.0L BLUE-Tec I-4 diesel, 2X4
  • Mercedes Sprinter 3.0L BLUE-Tec V6 diesel, 4X4
  • Ram ProMaster 1500, 3.0L I-4 diesel, 6-speed Auto/Manual

Mid-size commercial vans

  • Ram ProMaster City, SLT, 2.4L Tigershark I-4 gas, 9-speed Auto
  • Nissan NV200, 2.0L I-4, gas, Xtronic CVT Auto
  • Mercedes Metris, 2.0L I-4, gas, 7-speed Auto

These vehicles are each all-new – or have had significant changes made to them. However, this year, the Truck King Challenge decided to try something else new by offering a returning champion category.

This idea had been growing for a while and had everything to do with the engineering cycles that each manufacturer follows. Simply put, trucks are not significantly updated each year and to date we have only included “new” iron in each year’s competition. However, we started to think that just because a truck is in the second or third year of its current generational life shouldn’t make it non-competitive. Certainly if you watch the builders’ ads it doesn’t!  

So, this spring we decided that for the first time the immediate previous year’s winner (in each category) would be offered the chance to send its current truck back to IronWood to compete against what’s new on the market.  

This year the invitation was sent to the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Ford Transit 250 and Nissan NV200 – all previous winners that accepted the offer to return and fight for their crowns.

They, along with the new vehicles, took the tests over two days with the judges evaluating everything from towing feel to interior features.

The judges score each vehicle in 20 different categories; these scores are then averaged across the field of judges and converted to a score out of 100. Finally the “as tested” price of each vehicle is also weighted against the average (adding or subtracting points) for the final outcome.

And this year’s segment winners are...

  • Full-Size Half-Ton Pickup Truck – Ram 1500 EcoDiesel – 82.97 per cent
  • Mid-Size Pickup Truck – GMC Canyon Duramax – 76.30 per cent
  • Full-Size Commercial Van – Ford Transit 250 – 73.90 per cent
  • Mid-Size Commercial Van – Mercedes Metris – 75.69 per cent

The overall top scoring 2016 Canadian Truck King Challenge winner is the Ram 1500, Laramie, 3L EcoDiesel, V6 diesel, 8-speed Auto.

Congratulations to all the winners and to the two repeating champions – the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and the Ford Transit 250.

Jan. 25, 2016, Guelph, Ont. – Registration is now open for the 2016 Ontario Potato Conference, to be held March 1 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph. 

 

The deadline for the early bird registration at the reduced fee of $50 is Feb. 25. Lunch, coffee breaks and parking are included in the registration fee. The agenda and registration information can be found here

 

Jan. 11, 2016, Prince Edward Island – The P.E.I. Potato Board is moving to train the Island's potato growers and exporters on how to disinfect trucks before loading them, with five workshops being offered across the province, reports CBC News. | READ MORE

Nov. 18, 2015, Charlottetown – The International Potato Technology Expo returns to the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown on Feb. 26 and 27, 2016.

This biennial event welcomes potato growers and manufacturers of equipment and product solutions from across the Maritimes and beyond.

Registration is now open for the 2016 edition of the show. For a limited time, visitors can pre-register for just $5 and fast-track their entrance to the show. Registration is $10 at the door. Convenient online registration is available on the show website: www.PotatoExpo.ca.

November 11, 2015, Charlottetown, PEI – The end of a subsidy that provides disinfectant services to Island potato growers is a threat to the sector’s future, an industry spokesman says.

Members of the P.E.I. Potato Board recently discovered that as of Dec. 31, the province would be cutting funding to a 30-year-old disinfection service aimed at controlling potato ring rot. READ MORE

 

Small potato production is expanding in Saskatchewan to meet increased market demand for “creamer” potatoes with a target size of 20 mm to 40 mm in diameter. Specialty potato companies, such as The Little Potato Company of Edmonton,  have found new culinary markets for so-called “little” potatoes. Now growers in Saskatchewan are taking notice, particularly in the irrigated region of Outlook.

However, small potato production is markedly different from conventional potato production and has a unique set of requirements, including suitable varieties, special equipment and agronomic practices that differ from large potato production in several key ways.

According to Jazeem Wahab, horticultural crops agronomist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Saskatoon Research Centre, small potatoes are emerging as a higher-value option for the producer and another culinary choice for the consumer. However, growing small potatoes presents challenges to growers. “We have to develop cost-effective agronomic production practices that can produce the size and grade of small potatoes the market demands,” Wahab says.

Since 2006, Wahab has headed up a long-term study analyzing the effects of seed tuber size, seed spacing and harvest timing on growth and yield of small potatoes in Saskatchewan. He says many factors influence production of high-quality small potatoes, including weather, irrigation, harvest timing and variety. “Not one factor operates independently – we have to take a holistic approach,” he says.

The project received support from Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund from 2007 to 2009, as well as some funding from The Little Potato Company. Wahab hopes to continue the study this year with AAFC funding.

According to Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture, the project was initially aimed at “finding the best small potato germplasm and developing cost-effective and cultivar-specific agronomic practices for producing small potatoes,” as well as determining the potential for producing small potatoes from commercial table potato cultivars.

Studies under the project’s umbrella included the screening of creamer clones developed by AAFC potato breeders and identifying commercial potato cultivars suited for small potato production.

The project aims to benefit Saskatchewan’s potato industry by bringing greater revenue to the province’s producers through the higher-value small potatoes, which also increase the accessibility of lucrative urban markets. Small potato production is also more cost-effective, as small potatoes are harvested earlier than conventional large potatoes, and thus require fewer inputs such as pesticides.

Wahab and his team of researchers analyzed the impact of seed tuber size, seed spacing, harvest and top kill timing under irrigated conditions on three proprietary small potato varieties – Baby Boomer, Piccolo and Blushing Belle – as well as a few commercial and table standard large potato varieties, including AC Peregrine and Norland.

Larger tuber seeds for bigger yields
In one study, six seed tuber sizes were used in the study’s treatments, ranging in size from as small as 20 mm to as large as 50 mm in diameter. “In general, we found the larger the seed tuber, the bigger the yields,” Wahab says. Larger seed tubers also tended to decrease tuber size.

Two seed spacings were studied: 15 cm and 20 cm, respectively, between seed piece plantings. In general terms, closer spacings resulted in higher marketable yields, although Wahab says more data is needed. “I’ll be working on consolidating data from the years of the study to come up with recommendations,” he says. “What I can say is that some years, closer spacing yielded significantly higher, and some years it did not. The year that it did not respond well, it was very hot – weather can have a significant impact.”

In another study focused on harvest timing, one top-kill stage was used in the first year, based on tuber development of the different cultivars. Three top-kill stages were used in the second year, at 10, 11 and 12 weeks after planting.

Wahab says harvest timing depends on variables such as weather, but harvesting after 10 weeks usually results in a reasonably good small potato yield. “A nine-week harvest results in very low yields, a 10-week harvest in fairly good yields. At 11 weeks you get some larger potatoes, depending on the variety,” he says.

The team also studied the effects of harvest timing on some standard commercial varieties, such as Norland and AC Peregrine red potato varieties. What they discovered was AC Peregrine could also be grown for the small potato market if harvested early. But even though such adaptability would seem to make varieties like AC Peregrine attractive for commercial growers hoping to break into the small potato market, Wahab says most growers cannot afford to grow potatoes for both markets, as small potato production requires specialized equipment.

Before small potato production can grow into a major player in Canada’s potato industry, more suitable varieties will be needed, Wahab says. “The traditional varieties that are grown on a commercial scale have been bred to grow large. The number one thing we need is the best varieties for this particular purpose.”

Wahab believes small potatoes have a bright future in Canada, even though small potato production is still considered “niche.”

 

 

 

September 17, 2015 - Six entrepreneurial farm couples from across Canada are travelling to Edmonton in November to vie for top recognition as Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) at the organization’s annual national event. 

These regional honourees have been chosen from their home regions, and will present highlights of their operations at the national event. Bringing together OYF alumni and the larger agricultural industry, OYF’s event includes a special forum and concludes with a gala banquet to announce Canada’s 2015 national OYF winners. 

The day-long OYF event is open to the public and includes an information forum entitled “Working with the ones you love” and will be at the Marriott River Cree Resort & Casino at Enoch, Alberta on the outskirts of Edmonton.

Pre-registration is available at www.oyfcanada.com and includes the forum, lunch, honouree presentations and awards gala. Honourees presenting for the 2015 event include: David and Sara Simmons, Little Rapid, NL; Mike and Amy Cronin, Bluevale, ON; Christian Bilodeau and Annie Sirois, St-Odilon-de-Cranbourne, QC; Mark and Cori Pawluk, Birtle, MB; Jeff and Ebony Prosko, Rose Valley, SK and Patrick and Cherylynn Bos, Ponoka, AB. Two of these regional winners will be chosen at the awards gala as Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2015.

Tickets must be purchased to attend the awards gala. Pre-registration is required to attend the OYF event in person – forum/lunch/presentations are $75 per person, awards gala are $100 per person, and forum/lunch/presentations/awards gala are $175 per person.

Ticket prices do not include applicable tax and can be ordered at www.oyfcanada.com. Celebrating 35 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year.

The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer CropScience, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.

 

Aug. 11, 2015, Mosca, CO – What do you get when you combine an abandoned rural high school, two Colorado farm families and potatoes? White Rock Specialties.

July 28, 2015 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is pleased to announce the formation of the Advisory Group for the Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture project. This project will examine and address critical barriers to advancement facing women in the industry. Based on these results, there will be a strategic program developed and implemented to support improved access to leadership opportunities and strengthened business success for women working in agriculture.

As the project moves forward, the Advisory Group will provide feedback around key lines of enquiry to ensure meaningful outcomes for the agricultural community. This includes identifying subject matter experts to participate in the research, development and validation activities. Members will also assist in guiding the progress of the project for the next two years and as findings come in will provide feedback on proposed research instruments, tool drafts, report drafts, and other project elements.

The Advisory Group is comprised of professional and entrepreneurial women and men in the agriculture industry with an interest in advancing women in leadership roles. Members were drawn from senior management and executive positions in farm businesses, agricultural associations and agribusiness. They provide a balance of representation from across Canada as well as a cross-section of production areas, business focus and industry associations. The members include:

  • Heather Broughton, Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta, Agri-Food Management Excellence Inc.
  • Chantelle Donahue, Vice-President Corporate Affairs, Cargill Limited
  • Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • Susan Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald & Co, Canadian AgriWomen Network
  • Rebecca Hannam, Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program, Rural Ontario Institute,
  • Dr. Laura Halfyard, Sunrise and Connaigre Mussel Farms, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Association
  • Brenda Lammens, Agri-Food Management Institute, Canadian AgriWomen Network
  • Geneviève Lemonde, AGRIcarrières
  • Iris Meck, Iris Meck Communications
  • Debra Pretty-Straathof, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, World Farmers Organization (WFO) Standing Committee on Women in Agriculture
  • Lis Robertson, Canadian Association of Farm Advisors
  • Kim Shukla, Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance

There will be ways for others to get involved in the project as well. In the near future CAHRC will be announcing sub-groups focused on specific areas. There will also be social media groups through Linked-In and Facebook formed to allow for greater connection and communication throughout the project.

For more information or to get involved with Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture, please contact Jennifer Wright, HR Consultant at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Debra Hauer, Project Manager at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit CAHRC at www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.  This project is funded by Status of Women Canada.

July 20, 2015, Ottawa – Potato farmers planted 349,005 acres of potatoes across the country this year.

That’s up 0.4 per cent over last year, which saw the lowest level of planted area in 20 years.

However, despite this slight increase, total planted area remains significantly lower compared with the 2003 peak of 457,500 acres.

Planted area by province is as follows:

Province Seeded area (acres) Percentage of national planted area
Newfoundland and Labrador *Too unreliable to publish *Too unreliable to publish
Prince Edward Island 89,500 26%
Nova Scotia 1,624 0.4%
New Brunswick 47,885 14%
Quebec 42,749 12%
Ontario 34,750 10%
Manitoba 67,000 19%
Saskatchewan 6,000 2%
Alberta 53,459 15%
British Columbia 5,700 2%

 

June 23, 2015, Boise, Idaho – A federal judge has signed off on a $25 million settlement in a lawsuit between wholesale grocers and potato farming associations accused of forming a price-fixing cartel. The Winnipeg Free Press reports. | READ MORE

June 18, 2015, Alberton, PEI – About 95 per cent of the Island’s 2015 potato crop is now in the ground, estimates the general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, Greg Donald. The Journal Pioneer reports. | READ MORE

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