Business/Policy
Irving-owned Cavendish Farms is opening a new $360-million frozen potato-processing plant in Lethbridge, bringing about 400 jobs to southern Alberta.

Company president Robert K. Irving said it is a big deal for agriculture in Alberta.

"Our business will grow from 6,000 acres of potatoes today, with our present land, up to over 15,000 acres," Irving said at the new plant's groundbreaking earlier this month. "Those 9,000 acres, it's an opportunity for the local farmers, the growers in the region, to really look at the opportunity to grow and expand their operations here and have a long-term future with potatoes." READ MORE
Published in News
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (CNA) have sent a joint letter to Canadian, American and Mexican government officials, reiterating their calls that re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should aim to modernize the agreement, rather than dismantle it.
Published in Business & Policy
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.
Published in Business Management
Last month Statistics Canada released the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Like many of you, I was eager to read up on the results and discover how our industry has changed in the five years since the last survey was conducted. 
Published in News

Cavendish Farms will begin construction of a new multimillion-dollar facility in north Lethbridge next spring, the largest private investment ever in the city’s history. It’s the first step towards construction of a new $350-million state-of-the-art frozen potato processing plant that will replace its aging facility in the industrial area.| READ MORE

Published in News

Nov. 28, 2016, Prince Edward Island – Health Canada's proposal to phase out a pesticide over three years will have a significant impact on Island farmers looking to control the Colorado potato beetle, says the P.E.I. Potato Board. | READ MORE

Published in Pest Control

As part of the regular review process, Health Canada has completed its re-evaluation of imidacloprid, and has published its draft risk assessment for public comment. The assessment proposes current use of imidacloprid is not sustainable, and the levels of this pesticide that are being found in waterways and aquatic environments are harmful to aquatic insects, such as mayflies and midges, which are important food sources for fish, birds and other animals.



Concentrations of imidacloprid in surface water can range from non-detectable to, in some rare cases, levels as high as 11.9 parts per billion, according to Health Canada. Scientific evidence indicates levels above 0.041 parts per billion are a concern.

To address the risks identified, Health Canada has published a proposed risk management plan for public comment, which includes a proposed three-year phase-out of agricultural uses of imidacloprid in order to address risks to aquatic insects. In some cases, where there are no alternative pest control products available, a longer phase-out transition period of five years is being proposed.

In a press release, Health Canada said it is consulting on these proposed mitigation measures, and the final re-evaluation decision and risk management plan will take into consideration any comments received during the consultations. 

The consultation phase includes a 90-day commentary period in addition to a multi-stakeholder forum that will discuss any proposals for potential alternative mitigation strategies that would achieve the same outcomes in a similar timeframe. 

Any proposals for continued registration will need to clearly demonstrate concrete actions to ensure levels of imidacloprid in water will be reduced below the level of concern.

Based on the findings of the re-evaluation assessment on imidacloprid, Health Canada is also launching special reviews for two other widely used neonicotinoids: clothianidin and thiamethoxam. These special reviews will examine any potential risks these pesticides may pose to aquatic invertebrates, including insects, as they are also being detected frequently in aquatic environments.

In the press release, Health Canada said it will provide updates as new information becomes available.

Published in Pest Control

Nov. 21, 2016, Prince Edward Island – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board says the high price for potatoes will put millions of extra dollars into the provincial economy this winter. | READ MORE

Published in News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has deregulated the Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the second generation genetically modified Innate potato developed by J.R. Simplot.

They join the Innate second generation Russet Burbank potato, deregulated last year, according to a news release. The Packer reports. | READ MORE
Published in Traits and Genetics

June 23, 2016, New Brunswick – McCain Foods Canada has announced a major investment in its French fry plant in Florenceville-Bristol, N.B. This investment is expected to expand capability and create 40 to 50 new jobs. | READ MORE

Published in News

May 19, 2016, Prince Edward Island – Potato farmers across P.E.I. are busy planting this year's crop, but those who used to sell to McCain Foods have the added worry of wondering where next year's crop will be heading, writes the Guardian. | READ MORE

Published in News

April 15, 2016, Edmonton – Edmonton’s Little Potato Company is eyeing a major expansion with its first plant in the United States. The homegrown success story is building a processing, packing and storage facility that will also serve as its U.S. headquarters in DeForest, Wis., about 25 kilometres north of the capital in Madison. | READ MORE

Published in News

March 31, 2016, Canada – The organization that represents Canada’s major grocery chains says it has full confidence in selling genetically engineered foods that have been approved by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. | READ MORE

Published in News

March 22, 2016, Canada – Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have approved a genetically engineered potato for sale, said a U.S.-based company on Monday in announcing that its non-browning spuds could be in Canadian supermarkets by Thanksgiving. | READ MORE

 

Published in Traits and Genetics

March 9, 2016, Prince Edward Island – The Island’s staple potato industry may be experiencing a slump, writes The Guardian. At least one Island potato grower who recently attended the International Potato Expo says farms like his are struggling to sell potatoes because there are just too many of them. | READ MORE

Published in Markets and Marketing

March 3, 2016, Charlottetown, PEI – With its highest attendance in a decade, the 2016 edition of the International Potato Technology Expo – held Feb. 26-27 – was a resounding success.

Approximately 3,200 industry professionals walked the show floor to check out the diverse grouping of local, regional, national, and international exhibitors. Potato growers, together with the leading manufacturers of equipment and product solutions from across the Maritimes and beyond were in attendance.

Matt Mitchell, show manager, said he was very pleased with the outcome of the event.

“We were happy to see that this year’s edition drew the show’s highest attendance since 2006,” he said. “I think the excellent conference program really contributed to that, given that it was so well attended. Likewise, we certainly couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the addition of the tractors was a great draw for potato farmers.”

Exhibitors echoed the positive sentiments.

“This year’s show was another very successful event,” said Brian Beaton, potato industry coordinator with the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. “All the major suppliers to the potato industry were there and attendance by potato growers was very high. I heard many positive comments about the speakers at the conference and many said that they picked up some valuable information for their farm.”

“The potato expo provided an excellent opportunity to connect with our customers and others in the ag industry,” said Karen MacInnis Larter, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) marketing program manager.

“We were proud to be the major sponsor for this year’s event,” she added. “It was a great showcase and an excellent learning event for producers. They could find industry related information pertinent to their operations and hear top-notch speakers. It was a quality event from start to finish.”

“We found the expo extremely beneficial,” said Trent Cousins, Allan Potato Handling Equipment Ltd. “We feel there was a huge attendance from our industry. Having our exhibit in the show put us in touch with many customers, both new and existing, that we may not have had the chance to meet with. We will definitely be attending again in the future.”

“I can honestly say that this year show was by far better for us in quality lead generation and people coming to visit our booth; industry interest was like we haven’t seen in a few years,” said Marco Gagnon, GOW Group Inc. “All in all, we qualify this event a success for us.”

This year, a full educational conference program was offered alongside the tradeshow portion of the event. It featured seminar presentations from leading experts, including Dr. Tom Wolf, Agrimetrix Research & Training, Saskatoon, SK; Dr. Bernie Zebarth, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fredericton, NB; Dr. Gefu Wang-Pruski, Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus, Truro, NS; and Lane Stockbrugger, Farm Credit Canada, Englefeld, SK. The conference was well attended with 173 registrants and strong attendance for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

The next edition of the International Potato Technology Expo will occur in February 2018 and information will be posted online at www.PotatoExpo.ca as it becomes available.

Published in Machinery

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

Published in Business Management

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.

Published in Business Management

Feb. 3, 2016, Ontario – Eugenia Banks recently received the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association (OFVGA) 2016 Award of Merit at the OFVGA annual general meeting in January.

Banks hails from Santiago, Chile where she completed her bachelor of science degree at the University of Chile. She studied further at the University of Guelph where she completed her masters and PhD. Her connection to the potato industry started in 1990, when she began working for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) as a potato specialist.

In those years, Banks made herself available to growers whenever needed, tirelessly identifying problems with unique solutions. Her first battle was against the Colorado potato beetle, which was resistant to all pesticides that were registered to control it. For five years, Banks and potato growers would use propane flamers, vacuums, and plastic line trenches to control the pest into control by 1995. What started as very little knowledge of the potato industry grew exponentially over the years with dedication, commitment, and a desire to learn. Today, Banks is a respected potato expert. Her most successful endeavours include the evaluation of new potato varieties through practical field trials, tackling the aggressive strain of late blight that originally caused the Irish Famine, scout training days, and the Ontario Potato Conference held annually.

“Each year brought new challenges, but by working together we got positive results,” Banks said of her work with farmers in a press release. “Ontario potato growers are knowledgeable, innovative, hard working, and resilient. I will share this award with them.”

Published in Research

Jan. 27, 2016, Lethbridge, Alta. – Funded by a consortium of association and industry partners, the University of Lethbridge has appointed Dr. Dmytro Yevtushenko as research chair in potato science.

The local potato industry is poised to benefit from Yevtushenko’s experience as a plant biologist and from his expertise in potatoes, a plant he has studied for more than 25 years.

The PGA, McCain Foods, Lamb Weston and Cavendish Farms made a $1 million investment over five years to establish the chair in potato science. Western Canada has few researchers dedicated to the potato industry and the new chair will enhance and expand the current capacity.

“Dmytro’s arrival in southern Alberta is a result of unprecedented collaboration between the potato industry and the University,” says David Hill, director of development, Southern Alberta Agriculture Program, in a press release. “For the potato growers and processors to have had the long-term vision, insight and dedication to work with the U of L to enable a potato research program focused on the needs of the industry is significant. This initiative is a key element of the renewed focus on agriculture and agri-business that is being pursued by the University and its partners. It is an exciting time for the University and the students who will benefit from participation in this program.”

Yevtushenko plans to co-ordinate his research programs with the needs of the local industry. His major research interests are in the areas of plant biotechnology and breeding, with focus on crop improvement and food safety using modern techniques that involve molecular biology, plant tissue culture, and genetics. While he has researched many plant species, he prefers working with potatoes. His experience working in the plant biotechnology industry has given him an appreciation for the concerns of producers. He has a broad range of research expertise, including development of potato genotypes with wide-spectrum disease resistance and large-scale production of virus-free seed potatoes in vitro. Among other projects, his research plans include improvement of tuber yields through epigenetic enhancement of current potato cultivars and speeding up the potato breeding process using innovative methods.

Yevtushenko is eager to get started and he’ll be visiting local potato farms and facilities in the next few weeks. His lab is being retrofitted in a construction trailer near Hepler Hall, where he will conduct research until lab space becomes available through the Destination Project construction. After it opens this summer, he’ll be starting his research projects. In September, Yevtushenko will teach a course in plant breeding and genetics with a component specific to potato agriculture. He also plans to have students working in his lab and, in the future, he hopes to develop co-operative opportunities for students.

Yevtushenko was born in central Ukraine and attended Kiev State University, as it was then called. He’d wanted to be a scientist ever since he was in middle school and he arrived at university wanting to study nature and the environment. He discovered a passion for plant biology and completed a PhD at the Institute of Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering in Kiev. He came to Canada for a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph. Since then, he’s worked at the University of Victoria and held various positions in private industry, gaining a broad range of experience in business and research in the process. 

Published in News
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