Success in Agriculture
The Government of Prince Edward Island and the P.E.I. Potato Board are partnering with Island farmers to provide fresh produce to those affected by the devastating Hurricane Irma in Florida.

A tractor trailer with more than 40,000 pounds of fresh produce will leave Prince Edward Island for Georgia where it will be distributed to victims of Hurricane Irma.

"The PEI Potato farmers always rise to a need and this is no exception, even during the busy harvest time," said Rodney Dingwell, chairman of the PEI Potato Board. "We have a very generous industry and it gives me great pride that we are so quick to respond when someone is in need. Not only with our own communities, but as far away as the southern U.S." READ MORE
Published in News
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
A company started by six Mount Allison students sees a place for potato peels in furniture, flooring and ceiling tiles.

Enviroot's goal is to reduce waste by using food remains, especially potato peelings, to make a safe material for use in the home.

The company received a national business prize of $20,000 from Enactus Canada, a student-led entrepreneurial organization, and the McCain Social Enterprise Project Partnership to get the project going this summer.

"We use the potato peels that we get from McCain Foods here in New Brunswick in our particle board as a kind of filler," said Justin Trueman, Enviroot CEO and fourth-year biology student.

The potato peels are plasticized by melting them a little bit, and a bond between the potato peels' particles is created.

This allows them to bind products together without need of formaldehyde, which is the glues of some household furnishings, walls and stairs made from composite wood materials. READ MORE
Published in News
Rob Green, a potato farmer in Bedeque, is taking cover crop rotations to a new level. In the past, he grew barley, canola and hay as his rotational crops.
Published in Soil
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
With planting season just around the corner, researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are reminding home gardeners to take precautions to prevent the infection and spread of late blight. Planting clean and disease-resistant seeds is the best way to prevent the spread of late blight to other gardens and potato farms.

What is late blight?
Late blight is a disease caused by an organism that produces a white fuzz on the underside of leaves which releases millions of spores that float through the air to infect other plants. The spores land on a susceptible leaf, germinate, and cause brown oily lesions. The spores splash on the ground and infect potato tubers, which become brown and rusty looking, with a granular texture. Crop losses due to late blight can cost the Canadian potato industry tens of millions of dollars annually.

Protecting the potato industry
AAFC late blight specialist Rick Peters says taking steps to prevent the disease from infecting potato crops is important to help protect the health of the industry. He advises home gardeners to ensure their tomato seeds are resistant to the US-23 strain of late blight. Resistant seeds can be purchased at most garden centres. Certified disease-free seed potatoes can also be found at garden centres or purchased from a local seed potato grower. Peters says potatoes grown from last year’s garden or those bought from the grocery store are not suitable for planting as these tubers have not been tested and certified as disease-free and could be susceptible to a variety of potato diseases.

AAFC has partnered with industry leaders to identify and track late blight strains in production areas across the country. Scientists are also looking at biological characteristics of the different strains including how they respond to treatments. This knowledge allows for better management and control of the strains in Canadian potato and tomato production areas. While scientists continue to study the disease, they maintain that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and home gardeners have an important role to play.

If you spot a suspected late blight infection in your garden this season, please contact the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries at 1-866-778-3762 for information on how to properly dispose of infected plants.

Published in Diseases

August 23, 2016 - Approximately 250 growers, crop consultants and potato-industry personnel gathered at the 2016 Ontario Potato Field Day on Aug. 18 in Alliston, Ont., to see the latest potato equipment, new potato varieties and a trade show. The day was hosted by HJV Equipment, supported by the Ontario Potato Board and organized by Eugenia Banks, Ontario potato specialist.

There were over 100 new potato varieties on display; varieties for the fresh, processing and specialty markets. For the fresh market, the variety Actrice (Real Potatoes) caught the attention of many growers because of its attractive tubers with smooth, shiny skin. Actrice is an early, yellow-fleshed variety that is very tasty. Primabelle and Panamera (HZPC Americas) are two yellow-fleshed varieties that got good reviews from potato growers.

Among the russet potatoes for the French fry market, Alta Strong (Real Potatoes) and Pomerelle Russet (Pommes de Terre Laurentiennes) were well rated by growers.

There was interest in Kalmia (La Patate Lac Saint-Jean) a white-fleshed, fresh-market variety that could also be used as a French fryer.

Double Fun (HZPC Americas) had the nicest skin among the purple-fleshed varieties. It also has very good culinary traits.

Among the trade show exhibitors, the Quebec Company Lab’ Eau-Air-Sol demonstrated the use of spore traps for foliar diseases of vegetables.

Douglas Ag. Services provided the latest information on chloropicrin application to control soil-borne diseases. Maximum H2O System (Mississauga) restructures water and minerals at a molecular level to make them more bio-available to plants.

The displays of Gorman Controls and GRB Ag. Technologies focused on storage management.Potato growers attend this important annual event because they obtain practical, up-to-date information on varieties and the latest potato-production technology that allows them to remain competitive.

The day is also a chance for growers to meet in a friendly, informal setting to discuss problems.

Published in News


Nov. 11, 2015, Guelph, Ont. - The Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (CYSA) Competition named the winners of the 2015 competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on Nov. 7.

  • Senior champion: David MacTaggart from Lacombe, Alta.
  • Senior second place: Simon Greenough from Newport, N.S.
  • Senior third place: Kathryn Ringelberg from Troy, Ont.
  • Junior champion: Denesh Peramakumar form Concord, Ont.
  • Junior second place: Douglas Archer from Mount Pleasant, Ont.
  • Junior third place: Priethu Raveendran from Woodbridge, Ont.

This 31st edition of CYSA welcomed 26 competitors aged 11 to 24 from across Canada who offered their insight and solutions regarding the following topics: 

  • The biggest challenge facing Canadian agriculture today is . . . 
  • What role should government play in assisting young people entering farm businesses? 
  • Here's how our changing climate is affecting Canadian agriculture. 
  • This Canadian has significantly influenced agriculture. 
  • The one thing modern Canadian farmers must have is . . . 


Each year the renowned public speaking competition is held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. The competition is open to youth ages 11 to 24 with a passion for agriculture whether raised on a farm, in the country or in the city. The topics for 2016 will be:


  • What is the impact of public opinion on Canadian farmers?
  • How would you explain a GMO to a non-farmer?
  • What does the next generation of agriculture bring to the table?
  • How can we improve the media's perception of Canadian agriculture?
  • Old MacDonald had a farm...But what about Mrs. MacDonald?

For more information about CYSA visit


Published in News

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 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 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.

Published in Business Management

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  This project is funded by Status of Women Canada.

Published in Business Management

June 12, 2015 - To the world, Canada is considered as a leading agricultural nation.  Not only because of our total agricultural production but also because of advances in agricultural science.  These advances have been helping Canadian farmers and many related sectors for decades. 

From overcoming the challenges that our climate presents to the development of new agricultural technologies, agricultural science has had a profound impact on Canada.

However there has never been a concerted effort to look at how agricultural research benefits our country, the role it plays in our present day agriculture and the path it should take in the future.

The Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) is preparing to do just that by fostering the development of a comprehensive national agricultural research policy.

Scientists, academics, representatives of commodity groups, businesses involved in agriculture, consultants, farmers and others will be travelling to Ottawa in mid-July to help shape what this policy should look like.

The work to be undertaken at the conference follows extensive consultations undertaken by the Agricultural Institute of Canada.  Participants will be able to look at a summary of the consultations and debate various issues with key panellists that will lead the discussions.

Some of the topics to be discussed include:

  • How to balance pure and applied research
  • Fostering interdisciplinary partnerships, collaboration and cooperation
  • Bringing innovation to the market place
  • Issues with public-private partnerships

The intention is to ensure that a realistic policy be developed in order to provide guidance for the foreseeable future.

This policy should be based on an understanding of the opportunities and limitations provided by the public and private sectors as well as the expanded scope of the agricultural sector that now includes natural resources, conservation, climatology, and much more.

It is crucial that this policy also consider how to create the best conditions to attract and retain the best agricultural research scientists.

This policy should have a deep impact on how Canada moves forward in the future.  The hope is not to add to the many reports that gather dusts on shelves in offices but rather to have a document that will provide a framework and guidance to decision makers and stakeholders.

This is why it is so important to have the participation of all groups that have a stake in agricultural research.

About a year ago, AIC put out a “tweet” related to a new scientific advance in agriculture.  A few minutes later it was “re-tweeted”.  Our “re-tweeter” was a woman, a farmer working her fields.  She just happened to see our news.  Agriculture has changed.  It continuously does.  Be part of the change. 

To register, visit the AIC conference web site.  Click here.

Published in Business Management

January 29, 2015 - The Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Task Force (LTF) has elected Mark Wales as its new Chairperson and is moving forward with the recommendations of its Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan to address agricultural industry worker shortages.

“It is my pleasure to chair the Labor Task Force. We have a broad-based, growing group representing all commodities and value chains and we are rolling up our sleeves, coming together to work on solutions for agriculture and agri-food labour shortages,” says Wales. “Through the Labour Action Plan we have a roadmap forward addressing our workforce shortages which have been identified as the number one risk affecting the agriculture and agri-food industry today.”

Wales, a horticulture farmer from Elgin County, Ont., is also the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) Chair, representing the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

The Labour Task Force was established by the Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC) Value Chain Roundtables in 2012 to examine issues of agriculture and agri-food labour management and shortages; recently the LTF transitioned to become a CAHRC Committee.  Participation in the AAFC Value Chain Roundtable process and composition of the LTF is made up of a diverse cross-section of agricultural representatives covering everything from primary production, lobster and meat processing to ornamental horticulture production. These agriculture and agri-food value chains are a powerful driver of the Canadian economy representing eight per cent of the GDP. 

The LTF released the Labour Action Plan with practical and achievable recommendations last spring and support for the Plan’s implementation has now grown to 45 industry partners. The group is working on an update to the Policy and Programs section of the Labour Action Plan, including a review of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as it relates to agriculture and agri-food.

“We always recruit and hire Canadian domestic workers first,” says Mark Chambers, the LTF Policy and Programs Working Group Chair, who is Production Manager for Sunterra Farms, a family owned pork operation in Acme, Alberta. “However, finding workers to work and live in small rural communities is very challenging.  We need more workers to meet current production demands and to take advantage of export opportunities offered by new free trade deals.

“Labour shortages are pervasive, affecting current operational success,” says Wales. “Canadian producers’ incomes depend on agriculture’s value-added advantage and Canadian consumers depend on us for healthy, reasonably priced food.  To allow for continued prosperity and growth for our industry and the broader Canadian economy, it is urgent and essential that we continue to move forward with the Labour Action Plan to find short, medium and long term solutions.” 

As the overarching organization for farm labour in Canada, CAHRC is also conducting research on agricultural Labour Market Information (LMI) to identify labour and skill gaps as well as the National Agricultural Occupational Framework (NAOF), an in-depth study of the exact jobs and skills involved in today’s agricultural workforce. These projects will help to better inform and connect industry, governments and academic institutions with agriculture’s workforce requirements which are integral to the success of the Labour Action Plan’s future activities.

“The Canadian Agricultural HR Council is pleased to lead the implementation of the Labour Task Force’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director, CAHRC. “The Labour Task Force is a critically important mechanism that brings industry together to discuss labour related issues, recognize their inter-connectedness and collaborate to develop meaningful solutions.”

For more information on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan or agricultural human resource management contact CAHRC at

Published in Business Management

December 5, 2014 - In a news release issued in early December, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) says it is pleased to see that agriculture is included in the newly released Science and Technology Strategy for Canada. The future success of this large and impactful industry, says the release, is dependent upon a focus on science and innovation. New research is critical to ensuring productivity advances are possible and allows modern agriculture to continue to contribute to the growth of Canada’s economy.
“Agriculture is rooted in science,” says Mark Wales, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council Chair.  Producers have achieved record productivity gains and modern agricultural efficiencies that help the environment due to research and innovation.  Now that agriculture is included within the Science and Technology Strategy, it is recognized as an Industry Canada priority.  This is important for the future of Canadian producers, our agriculture industry, and the future workers we will need for our operations.”  
“Agriculture and agri-food is an exciting career choice and innovation is an important part of the agriculture and agri-food industry,” says Portia Macdonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of the Council.  “This recognition within the Science and Technology Strategy highlights the high level of skill required for agriculture and agri-food workers today.”
“To take advantage of the productivity gains through science and innovation, more highly skilled workers will be needed,” says Doug Chorney, Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council Vice-Chair.  “We have a lot of successes in agriculture and improvement in our modern agriculture production practices is directly connected to technology and research advancements. Access to agriculture labour, however, remains one of the biggest limiting factors to productivity gains for the industry.”
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council conducts labour market research and is responsible for the implementation of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan, a road map for addressing critical labour shortages within the industry.  The report states labour shortages are pervasive across all agriculture and agri-food commodities, affecting current operational success and future growth potential.
“Producers and industry from all regions across the agriculture and agri-food value chain are coming together through the Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan to collectively address worker shortages in the industry,” says MacDonald-Dewhirst. “We are working together as industry professionals to showcase that this is an exciting time to work within the agriculture and agri-food industry, a place where research and innovation connect to feed the world and build a better Canada.”

Published in News

December 4, 2014 - Canada shares the North American continent with the United States, so the climate and ecological effects there have the potential to be felt here at home. It's with this in mind that a new government forecast from the U.S. may be concerning for Canada's farmers.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the long-term effects of climate change have the potential to substantially increase losses to crop insurance programs over the next several decades.

GAO revealed that losses for the programs tracing back to 2008 increased by 8 per cent due in part to population growth and appreciation in property prices for regions at risk of flooding. Furthermore, come 2040, climate change has the potential to increases losses even more, perhaps over 100 per cent by 2100.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the U.S. Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, requested the analysis to be done and remarked how the world can no longer tolerate dithering on climate change's devastating effects.

"It is yet another example of the expense that's caused by our failing to deal with climate change," said Bennett, according to USA Today.

Additionally, after analyzing 20 scientific studies on climate change, the report revealed there could be an uptick in hurricane losses of between 14 per cent and 47 per cent from 2000 to 2040. Losses could be even more significant further out, rising to as much as between 54 per cent and 110 per cent between 2040 and 2100.

Odds of Flooding May Rise
The GAO study also referenced how climate change could lead to an increased prevalence of flooding, which is the No. 1 natural disaster in the U.S.

Flooding has proven to be problematic over the last couple of years in Canada. Manitoba and Saskatchewan both saw severe flood damage this year. Many farmlands were destroyed and an estimated 100,000 people were displaced, according to provincial data records.

Crop insurance is an important protection farmers should have to provide financial cover for themselves when weather doesn't cooperate. With the appropriate documentation, farmers can make a claim if sales numbers are adversely affected by crop damage. Growers who receive insurance proceeds need to remember that this is considered earnings, so during tax season, it should be reported as farm income.

FBC is Canada’s Farm & Small Business Tax Specialist, providing tax accounting and bookkeeping services to over 20,000 farms and small businesses from Ontario to British Columbia. Our complete financial planning for farm and small business owners takes a long-term approach to address your specific needs at all stages of life and business, minimizing your taxes year after year. Year-round services include tax planning, tax optimization, business consulting and audit protection.

For more information, visit

Published in Business Management

December 4, 2014 - In Canada, all farmers must report their net income by year's end. When you report your farming income, you’ll have to track earnings for the entire fiscal period. While the exact timeline can vary - new or recently closed businesses will have slightly different fiscal periods - for the most part self-employed individuals' fiscal period ends on December 31.

For existing farm businesses, the term will typically span 12 months. This means that the months are winding down, and soon you’ll have to report your farming income.

Using the Form T2042
The Canada Revenue Agency designed a form to assist farmers with reporting their income. The Form T2042, or a Statement of Farming Activities, was put together in order to assist individuals with adding up their income and expenses for the year, to assist with income tax preparation. One of these forms, or another type of financial statement, will be required for each business that you run.

The identification section of the form is self-explanatory, though there are a few details you'll need to remember. You’ll need to include your program account number, assigned by the CRA, the fiscal period covered and your industry code. The CRA provides a list defining the codes for each farming sub-sector.

CRA states that if a single activity makes up 50 per cent of your farming business or more, then that should be the code you list on the Form T2042. For example, if 60 per cent of your business involves hog and pig farming, then you write '112210' in the industry code section. There are also combination industry codes, should no one activity make up more than 50 per cent of your business.

Following the identification section, the Form T2042 includes a box that allows you to track Internet-based earnings. This section simply requires you to state income from the Internet, and the websites on which transactions took place. You’ll also have to identify the percentage of your income derived from Internet activities.
The next section will require a statement of farming income. Every possible source of earnings from wheat sales to rebates is listed in this section of the Form T2042. When you have listed all revenue sources, you’ll have to add your gross income to the section - or how much money you made without taking into account expenses.

The expenses section of the form comes after the income box. Make sure that you separate your expense types into two categories - current and capital.

  • Capital expenses provide long lasting benefits and extend the life of your property.
  • Current expenses will bring property back to original condition, but won't actually improve it.

Finally there will be a section for net income or loss, a combination of income and expenses during the fiscal period.
Using the Form T2042 in order to break down income and expenses makes the process easier.

FBC is Canada’s Farm & Small Business Tax Specialist, providing tax accounting and bookkeeping services to over 20,000 farms and small businesses from Ontario to British Columbia. Our complete financial planning for farm and small business owners takes a long-term approach to address your specific needs at all stages of life and business, minimizing your taxes year after year. Year-round services include tax planning, tax optimization, business consulting and audit protection.

For more information, visit

Published in Business Management

OYF National Winners: From left to right:  Komie Hossini, Bayer CropScience, Jack Thomson, President Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers, Myron & Jill Krahn, National Winner from Carman, Manitoba, Heidi & Andrew Lawless, National Winner from Kinkora, PEI, Jan Kennema, John Deere Ltd., Darryl Worsley, CIBC.

Dec. 2, 2014 - Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers for 2014 are grain farmers Myron and Jill Krahn of Carman, Man., and potato farmers Andrew and Heidi Lawless of Kinkora, P.E.I. These two farm families were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada, at the OYF annual national event held recently in Quebec City, Que. Special guests at the event included Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Quebec Minister of Agriculture Pierre Paradis and UPA President Marcel Groleau.

A strong entrepreneurial drive, together with a passion for family and farming, are common drivers for both farm couples, who are the newest additions to the family of OYF ambassadors for Canadian agriculture. The Krahn's have realized tremendous growth and diversity in the grain, seed production and seed retail outlet operation they took over from the last generation about 10 years ago. The Lawless's, together with family, operate a large potato operation that includes the first joint venture potato operation on Prince Edward Island.

"Every year, our organization recognizes and welcomes more innovation and more passion with farm families who are helping shape the dynamic future of Canada's agri-food sector," says OYF President Jack Thomson. "The Krahn's and Lawless's are carrying on family operations, taking their sectors to new levels and helping raise the next generation who are experiencing the values this industry is built on. OYF is so proud to showcase their accomplishments."

MB familyMyron and Jill Krahn (left) farm for one simple reason – they love it. After they both completed agriculture degrees from the University of Manitoba, they took over the farm from Myron's parents in 2003. Krahn Agri Farms Ltd. of Carman, Man., has grown into a 3,000-acre grain farm with an independent seed retail arm and new on-site seed treating system. Custom seeding, harvesting and grain drying have been added to round out the diversified farm operation. Taking over the family farm required significant changes to maintain profitability. Myron and Jill have seen their family farm thrive through hard work, determination and dedication. They share their passion and work ethic with their two daughters, Cadence and Keira, and an appreciation for where their food comes from.

Atlantic familyFarming has been part of Andrew and Heidi Lawless' family (right) for the past four generations. In 2007, Andrew and Heidi formed a partnership with Andrew's parents, and today, the partnership farms as Hilltop Produce Ltd. With a four million pound potato storage facility and contracts for an increase to 12 million pounds, they extended their operation to include 400 acres of cereal grains. Most recently, Andrew initiated R&L Farms – a joint venture potato farm operated together with neighbouring potato farmers. Through every part of their operation, Andrew and Heidi value family, a respect for the land, best practices and a strong work ethic. And they are sharing those values with their growing family, Vance, Max and Maeve.

Myron and Jill Krahn from Manitoba, and Andrew and Heidi Lawless from Prince Edward Island were chosen from the seven 2014 regional finalists – that included the following honourees from the other five regions – Bruno Soucy and Hélène St-Pierre (Quebec region), Jason and Amanda O'Connell (Ontario region), Aaron and Adrienne Ivey (Saskatchewan region), Richard and Nicole Brousseau (Alberta region), and Lydia Ryall (British Columbia, Yukon region).

Celebrating 34 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.



Published in News

Aug. 29, 2014 – Unique, innovative and very successful are three terms that well describe S. Fett Farms. They sell a whopping 27 potato varieties, including several fingerlings (Russian, Apple, French and Peruvian) and ‘Round All Blue’ (blue skin and blue flesh). They are a highly mechanized and lean operation, employing innovative value-added cultivation techniques such as green sprouting and mist irrigation. They sell their harvest all over Ontario, with a bit of U.S. sales as well.

It was back in 1983 that Steve Fett Jr. married Paula and the couple started their own 50-acre potato farm on a new property in LaSalette, Ont. Over the years, the farm grew to its present 600 acres, becoming more and more mechanized all the while.

“Automation is extremely important to our farm,” says Paula. “With minimum wage up from $10.25 to $11 per hour, the cost of paper bags and boxes up eight per cent, and chain stores demanding a one-per-cent decline in prices, we must mechanize in order to make any money.”

The Fetts employ a computer-controlled planter to control seed potato placement. After harvesting, the potatoes are automatically sorted at their washing and sorting facility into jumbos, selects, minis and creamers. At this point, the potatoes go to a state-of-the-art computerized machine that achieves precise pre-determined container weights. The same machine also packages the tubers in bags. “Our building, machinery and storage bins are all made of tin, aluminum, stainless steel or plastic,” says Steve. “We’ve moved away from wood because wood holds bacteria, and having stainless steel means no rust. Everything is very easy to clean.”

A decade after starting their farm in 1983, Steve and Paula decided to use green sprouting to accelerate the growth process. “It speeds up the harvest by three to four weeks,” says Steve. “Consumers like eating early local potatoes – the minis and the creamers – and we can get an increased price that’s about 15 per cent higher. This offsets the added work and cost of the green sprouting.”

The Fetts used to use greenhouses to start the process, but five years ago, they switched to using barns with grow lights instead. “The barns are insulated and can maintain a constant temperature in any weather,” Steve explains. “It’s definitely more cost-efficient.”

Once the green-sprouted plants are in the field, some years the Fetts use floating fibre as a cover to keep the new crop warm. Some years, the ground is warm enough. Should there be worry about a frost, they use solid set sprinklers (mist irrigation), which are removed at harvest time.

Eugenia Banks, a potato specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs, studied green sprouting in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The study was funded in part by the Ontario Potato Board and involved several private growers. Banks kept tubers in plastic trays under indirect light at 16 C for about three weeks prior to planting, stimulating the growth of short, thick sprouts. Field trials conducted in 2010 and 2011 in partnership with several potato growers showed Dakota Pearl processing potatoes planted using green sprouting were ready for harvest 12 days ahead of the conventionally-planted crop. Similar results were obtained with Superior and Yukon Gold potatoes. “The early hard frost is the big concern,” Banks notes.

Specialty focus
The Fetts started growing specialty varieties in 1998. They ship these and regular varieties to distributors, restaurants and markets all over Ontario, with a small amount to the U.S. Steve says it’s difficult to make export worthwhile because orders are not large enough to cover the costs of the inspection, transport and brokerage fees.

Since most of fingerling are usually small in size, have different maturity, tuber set and vine growth, they require different management than regular potatoes, says Dr. Benoit Bizimungu, a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The Fetts note that as fingerling varieties stay in dormancy longer and mature later, green sprouting is a must for them. They use a specialty planter to prevent the sprouts from breaking off, but say crop protection product use is the same.

Demand for various nonconventional varieties is on the upswing. “The market for some varieties of fingerling and coloured potatoes has increased between 10 to 15 per cent over the last few years,” Paula notes. “There are more food-conscious consumers out there than ever before, and these varieties are beginning to be used within the service industry, restaurants and at home. People want the anti-oxidants from the coloured parts, and are interested in unconventional colours of peel and flesh and different shapes.”

Steve believes sales for the fingerling and coloured potatoes will continue to increase, but that there may be a decrease in the round potato market. “People don't cook the large meals that they used to as much anymore,” he observes. “Carb consumption has also gone down, so we’re looking at smaller packaging. Part of the move to smaller – and more packaging as well – is for food safety reasons and not to meet consumer demand, so that means added cost without any added sales. But it’s the cost of doing business.”

A good percentage of the varieties that the Fetts grow were developed in Canada, but Steve says there is not much breeding done in Canada compared to that occurring in the U.S. or Europe. “Seed is very expensive and hard to acquire,” he notes. “Most varieties are market-driven and customers demand a smooth skin, no eyes and a clean appearance along with priority for a lower price.”

With taking Yukon Gold as an example, Steve explains that while this is a Canadian variety that people like to buy, it doesn’t provide growers like him with a high yield. “Consumers want these, but they won't pay a price higher than what other yellow-flesh varieties are going for,” he notes. “These other varieties from Europe provide double the yield. People don’t understand this. They just want the Canadian-bred variety, and don’t see why they should have to pay extra.”

Among the things Steve says he likes best about potato farming, is being able to be his own boss and the feeling of accomplishment he gets from growing food for his own family and others. “The saying, 'farmers feed cities,' is so true,” he says.

“Farming potatoes is very competitive,” he adds. “I’d like to see some changes in the marketing system, such as more advertising for local food. The consumers need to know where their food is coming from.”

In terms of future plans, the Fetts plan to go with the flow, grow the profitable varieties and sell to the consumers who are knowledgeable. “We’ll keep a close watch on the trends,” Stever says, “and grow what the buyers want.”

Published in Markets and Marketing

Aug. 29, 2014, Prince Edward Island – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board and the Canadian Potato Museum have collaborated on a project to share the history of the P.E.I. potato industry.

With the assistance of funding from the PEI 2014 Fund, the Canadian Potato Museum and the PEI Potato Board acquired the services of Ian Petrie to record interviews with a number of men and women who have been leaders in the Prince Edward Island potato industry. Interview subjects included mixed farmers, potato exporters, pioneers in certified seed production, entrepreneurs in potato equipment manufacturing, and growers who specialized in selling tablestock potatoes to retail in Canada and the United States, as well as those involved in the beginning and the expansion of the processing industry.

From these interviews, a series of videos were completed in an effort to share some of these stories with both today’s potato growers as well as the general public. A half-hour video touching on all parts of the PEI potato industry is available for viewing at the Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary, where Islanders and visitors can learn about the history of growing potatoes each year. This video is also available on the PEI Potatoes YouTube channel, along with a series of shorter videos that touch on individual subjects such as the establishment of a certified seed industry that saw Prince Edward Island potatoes travel around the globe, as well as looking at the advances in specialized potato equipment over the years.

Videos are available to view at or by visiting the Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary. 


Published in Markets and Marketing

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