Category Archives: Alfalfa Hay

At Barr-Ag, we take up to three cuts of the early maturing varieties of alfalfa from our irrigated farms. This alfalfa hay is sought after for its higher protein content. The later maturing variety is grown on our dryland properties and we harvest up to two cuts. All of our alfalfa hay is non-GMO.

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Part 2 – Reducing Risk of Fire on Farm & Ranch

As we discussed in Part 1 of Farm, Ranch & Fire, an agricultural fire tends to be more costly than other industrial fires.  Not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination is a double whammy which increases the commercial value of the loss.

Clearly all the safety precautions in the world won’t help if a wildfire has advanced to the point that evacuation of your farm or ranch is necessary, nonetheless whatever fire prevention precautions can be taken should be.  In Part 1 of this article we looked at some simple steps every farm or ranch can take with a mind to fire prevention.  Now we will take a closer look at ways to reduce the risk of fire to your farm or ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures

Forest Fire.  No one ever wants to have to use it, but it is a good idea to develop an evacuation plan (bearing in mind livestock) and incorporate drills into your staff training and education.

Noncombustible Zones.  Keep dry and flammable vegetation at least 5 feet away from barns, outbuildings and residences.  Establish a noncombustible zone around fuel, chemicals, hay and equipment. Welders/ and cutting torches should only be used in clean areas well away from flammable materials (at least 35 feet). Keep roofs and eaves troughs free of combustible debris.  Maintain appropriate fire guards around crops and pastures.

Equipment.  Replace belts, bearings and electrical components in a timely manner.  Keep engine compartments clean.  Be sure mufflers and manifolds are in proper working order.  Follow maintenance schedules for machinery.  Machinery or vehicles with special hazards should be stored separately. Fire extinguishers should be on tractors, combines and other farm and ranch vehicles.

Buildings.  Be sure to include updating buildings with fire resistant materials (and sprinklers) in your budget and short and long-term planning.  To prevent the spread of fire, construct new buildings away from preexisting ones.  Keep vegetation cut around and between buildings.  Use fire doors and smoke detectors.

Electrical.  Be sure staff and family know how to disconnect main power.  Extension cords are not designed to be permanent wiring solutions.  When you need to use them for a temporary purpose, be sure they are rated appropriately for the task.  Keep an eye out for exposed wiring or frayed insulation around wiring.  Better safe than sorry.  Bring in a licensed contractor for advice, inspections, renovations and new construction.

Heating Sources.  Use dust and moisture resistant covers on lights.  Tank heater cords and heat tapes should be protected against damage by pests or livestock.  Use heaters with tip-over protection and be sure they are not placed in high traffic areas or where combustibles and flammables are stored.  Dispose of oily rags in a timely manner.  Cure hay to the proper moisture content before bailing.

Controlled Burns.  The Government of Saskatchewan has a great little article online entitled “FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices”.  The article has some excellent tips about controlled burns, as well as fire prevention in general for farmers and ranchers.

Farming and ranching may feel a bit like gambling sometimes.  There are many variables at play which can affect the prosperity of an operation from year to year – don’t let careless fire prevention be one of them.  Be vigilant, establish a culture of safety on your farm or ranch.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

References:
The Government of Saskatchewan; Wildfire Education and Prevention; FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices
http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=2116f4ac-765b-4e14-9486-4eb96e9b5e10

Farm Ranch Fire Prevention

Farm, Ranch & Fire Prevention

Part 1 – Simple Steps for Fire Prevention

In terms of forest fires, the summer of 2016 was tough for those living in northern Alberta. “The fire spread across approximately 590,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) before it was declared to be under control on July 5, 2016.” [1]

While damages to Fort McMurray itself, work camps and surrounding boreal forest were extensive, losses in terms of agriculture were not substantial as the areas affected were not primarily agricultural in purpose.  However, the fires in Southern and Central Alberta in the summer of 2017, have had an impact on both farming and ranching. Extremely dry conditions set the stage for the commencement and growth of fires in several areas across Southern and Central Alberta – both prime agricultural regions.

Farming and ranching aren’t without their dangers – even under the best of environmental conditions, but in a dry year it is important to keep vigilant.  Agricultural fires tend to be more costly than other industrial fires because not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination increases the commercial value.

While there is not much that can be done about Mother Nature, we can at least be sure that we take measures to reduce the risk of fire on farm and ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures:

No Smoking.  One of the most preventable causes of fires is the haphazard extinguishing or “flicking” of cigarette butts. Provide safe and dedicated receptacles for butts at designated areas.  Be sure staff, seasonal workers and family are aware that using them is non-negotiable and smoking bans apply everywhere else – around combustible materials, in barns etc. Post “No Smoking” signs.

Remove.  Familiarity can minimize our ability to observe the obvious.  Be on the look-out for potential fire hazards and remove them whenever possible.  If a particular hazard can’t be removed, take necessary steps to mitigate fire risk associated with it.

farm fire prevention

Rooftop Fire Prevention Sprinklers

Education.  Teach staff, seasonal employees and family members to be safety conscious and mindful of fire risk.  Be sure everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are.  Conduct fire drills which include various scenarios.  Come up with a plan of action in the event of a fire and be sure staff and family know what to do.

Equipment. Be sure fire extinguishers, fire and smoke alarms are in proper working order.  Some operations my require the installation of warning systems or water sprinklers in barns or processing facilities.

Safety First.  Employ safe housekeeping practices.  Be intentional so that it will be a habit during busy harvest and planting season.  Put tools, supplies and equipment away properly. Maintain aisles, walkways, entrances and exits free of clutter and obstructions.  Inspect mechanized equipment on a regular basis to ensure things are in proper working order.

The Fire Department.  Maintain a good relationship with your local fire department – in the event of an incident you will be glad that you did.  Try to ensure adequate water supply is available.  Keep an updated list of hazardous materials that are stored on your property.

Fire is just one of the factors that can threaten the productivity and prosperity of a farm, but it is a threat that we have some measure of control over.  Part 2 of Farm, Ranch & Fire will look at other practices and strategies that can be employed to further fire prevention management on farm and ranch.

 

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

 

References:

[1] 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire 

Alberta Alfalfa Hay

Alberta Alfalfa Hay

Medicago sativa is the Latin name for “the Queen of Forages”, alfalfa, the most popular and important forage legume grown in Canada. (Agriculture Canada, 1987) It owes its monarchic nickname to its many virtues and merits. Alberta Alfalfa Hay is considered to be one of the most palatable and nutritious of hays. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, alfalfa hay is one of the chief components of dairy cattle feed, as well as serving as an important dietary ration for milking goats, beef cattle, sheep and horses. Aside from the nutritional advantages that it provides for ruminants and a variety of equine species, alfalfa is also an indirect source for honey as bees gather a substantial amount of nectar from alfalfa flowers. (Alfalfa)  This high-yielding cultivar also has a great ability to improve soil quality and provide weed control for ensuing crops.

The plant itself is a bushy perennial legume which grows to a height of 60-100 cm. Its leaves consist of 3 leaflets which can range in shape from almost round to lanceolate. The stems are slender and may be either hollow or solid. Flowers grow in clusters of 10-20 and the florets are usually blue or purple, white or yellow, occasionally bronze and green and may be variegated with shades of blue and green. (Goplen, 1987) Seed pods are slightly downy and vary from kidney or sickle shaped to single, double or triple-coiled in appearance; however “the sickle pod has been almost eliminated by selection because it contains few seeds and shatters easily”. (Goplen et al., 1987, p.6)

The roots of the alfalfa plant are of four types: tap, branch, rhizomatious and creeping. The majority of roots probably penetrate most soils to a depth of about 2 m. (Fulkerson) Taproots typically penetrate “from 7 to 9 m, but roots have been observed 39 m deep in a mine beneath an alfalfa field”. (Sheaffer & Evers, 2007, p. 182) “Depending on the length of the growing season and maturity at harvest, alfalfa will have from 2 to 10 regrowth cycles”. (Sheaffer & Evers, 2007, p.182)

One of the distinctive characteristics of alfalfa is its ability to tap into the nitrogen supply Alberta Alfalfa Hayin the air. It does this through an especially unique symbiotic relationship with a particular type of soil bacteria. These bacteria produce nodules on the root that convert nitrogen in the air into a form that is readily used by the plant- a process called “nitrogen fixation”. Soil acidity directly affects the growth and survival of these bacteria and can be a significant impediment to high alfalfa yields. Saline soil conditions also deter productivity because salinity adversely affects seed germination and also prevents roots from taking in water and essential nutrients.

At Barr-Ag, we take up to three cuts of the early maturing varieties of Alberta Alfalfa Hay from our irrigated farms. This alfalfa is sought after for its higher protein content. The later maturing variety is grown on our dryland properties and we harvest up to two cuts. All of our alfalfa hay is non-GMO.(See to the attached article: USDA to OK Genetically Modified Alfalfa )

Barr-Ag’s head office is located at 5837 Imperial Drive, Olds, Alberta, Canada, T4H 1G6. Please visit our website or call or write if you have any questions about our timothy hay, non-GMO alfalfa hay or any of our other products. We can be reached by telephone at: 403 507 8660 or by email at: info@barr-ag.com or haysales@barr-ag.com
References:
Fulkerson, R.S., Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Publication 59
Goplen, B.P, Baenziger, H., Bailey, L.D., Gross, A.T.H., Hanna, M.R., Michaud, R., Richards, K.W., Waddington, J., (1987) Agriculture Canada: Growing and Managing Alfalfa in Canada, Publication 1705/E
McKenzie, Ross H., (2005) Agri-Facts: Soil and Nutrient Management of Alfalfa
Sheaffer, Craig C., Evers, Gerald W., (2007) Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture
Alfalfa: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/botany/alfalfa-info.htm
Forage: http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1174594338500&lang=eng

Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically Modified Crops

Since 1994, GM foods have been permitted to be sold in Canada. Currently, Canada’s growing of genetically modified crops is limited to canola, soybean, corn and sugar beets of which most are exported to foreign countries. The country is one of the largest exporters of GMO crops in the world. Recently, field tests have begun on growing GM alfalfa in Ontario and Quebec that have raised concern over the probable contamination of Canada’s naturally grown alfalfa crop through cross pollination.

Appearance of Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically modified crops were first produced in 1982 and by 1986; the first field trials were done on tobacco for herbicide resistance. In 1994, the United States approved its first food crop, a tomato. Since then, GM crops have exploded in variety and availability.

Claimed Benefits of GMOs

GMO crops do have their advantages:

  • Because they have been engineered to be more drought resistant, they can be grown in borderline areas and places that might not have been usable previously.
  • They can provide more nutrients such as the vitamin A in rice exported to countries with poor populations and malnutrition issues.
  • There is also a larger yield per acre with some crops and they are much more resistant to disease, herbicides and insect infestation.

Why is There Concern over GMOs?

Much discussion  has ensued over GM crops and whether they are environmentally safe. While the subject has been widely researched, there continues to be controversy over whether there has been enough proof found to be certain that GM crops are safe. It is not so much safety for human consumption, as it is safety for our environment.

The biggest issue appears to be cross-contamination of adjacent natural crops, which is almost impossible to control. Is this going to cause the eventual extinction of natural crops within a few decades? No one knows, as there has just not been enough long term research to determine what the outcome will be.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

Forage Trends North America 2016

Forage Trends North America 2016

Canadian alfalfa hay has continued its upward movement for the first quarter of 2016 as we continue to monitor forage trends across North America. Improved demand on a world-wide basis results from a larger demand and smaller supply globally of natural forage. This is an excellent indication of an ongoing upward movement for the year. A lot of this can be attributed to the global market which has a strong bias against GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) crops and Canadian alfalfa hay is completely natural.

Increased Production of GMO Crops

A big issue again this year is GMO crops. There are already test plots in Ontario and Quebec, alfalfa hayand there is a real fear that these will cross pollinate and ruin the natural alfalfa crop which could end up being a disaster of biblical proportion. The United States already has an issue with GMO crops, and China along with other countries, has issued a total ban on the importation of GMO crops. So far, Canada has stayed away from GMO crops, but there appears to be some bleed-over from the border which, if not corralled, will become an issue. Alberta, in particular, is already having a problem with contaminated seed.

 

Increase of Alfalfa Growth

Canada currently has about 32 million acres in forage crops, most of those in the west. Of these millions of acres, only about 25,000 are growing alfalfa seed. However, that’s changing rapidly due to the lack of seed acreage in the United States. Natural alfalfa seed acreage has risen substantially in the last few years and that trend is estimated only to continue. Until GMO crops are better researched and more is understood about their effect on humans, animals, nature, and the environment, natural seed production will only continue to grow.

Corn Silage Growth

If alfalfa is queen of the forage crops, corn silage is king. Corn silage has shown considerable growth in the last few years and it looks to be continuing. This can be attributed to higher yield and continued growth into late harvest which raises the starch content.

In conclusion, Canadian alfalfa hay looks to be fairly strong this year partially due to the GMO issue. Until further research is conducted on the effects that GMO crops have on humans, animals, and the environment, the increase of alfalfa crop production will only continue.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

Canadian Alfalfa Hay and Its Many Benefits

Canadian Alfalfa Hay

Over the past four decades, the Canadian Alfalfa processing industry has experienced tremendous growth. Today, it ranks as one of the top five largest exporters of Alfalfa in the world. Alberta-grown Alfalfa hay offers many benefits and advantages when compared to hay grown in other parts of the world. Canadian Alfalfa hay provides farmers with a consistently higher quality product, while also offering a more rapid harvesting time than many other types of hay.

Because of its high protein content, farmers across Canada and the United States use dehydrated Alfalfa hay as food for their livestock. The soil on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is rich in calcium and magnesium, which helps to produce a more robust, nutrient rich hay.

The clean air, long warm days, and cool nights in Canada ensure a vigorous production Canadian Alfalfa Hayduring the shorter growing season. Dry land alfalfa hay may be harvested up to twice per season, while irrigated alfalfa hay can be harvested up to three times each season. Because of it has a deep perennial root system, Alfalfa hay is a high water use forage crop. Although it optimally requires 540 to 680 mm of water per growing season in Alberta, the crop is relatively drought tolerant.

The long Canadian winters allow farmers to grow Alfalfa hay using more natural methods. This significantly reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, as the cold temperatures effectively discourage pests and most weeds. The shorter growing season allows the land a greater resting period to recuperate. This recovery time helps eliminate the need for artificial fertilizers to coax more production, as is commonly necessary in areas with warmer climates.

This non-GMO crop also offers more stringent quality control guidelines. Instead of being graded by observation and smell the way Timothy hay is, Alfalfa hay is tested and graded by independent labs. Canadian Alfalfa hay promises a more consistent product, year after year.

Barr-Ag is a family-owned operation with a farm-to-farm business model. This allows them the unique ability to maintain much tighter control over the product they export. Barr-Ag’s farms and producers are strategically positioned near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains where they are fortunate to have clean air, long warm days with cool nights, soil rich in calcium and magnesium and a pristine environment in which to grow their non-GMO alfalfa hay.

Growing 60% of all exported hay ensures that they can set high standards in place at each stage of their product, from planting to packaging. The remaining 40% of their stock is purchased from local growers with the same dedication to quality. Barr-Ag’s quality standards allow them to guarantee mold-free hay with less than 12% moisture content.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse corps.

U.S. Alfalfa Hay Exports Contaminated

LocationChina

China has rejected alfalfa hay from the United States due to genetically modified forage contamination. Hay exported from our southern neighbours is in quarantine after detection of GMO traits showed up.

Cross contamination from nearby fields growing Roundup Ready alfalfa, developed by Forage Genetics International for Monsanto Co., is the culprit. This genetically modified alfalfa hay was deregulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2011 and caused a lot of controversy. Many feared it would have a negative effect on the export of forage products from North America as the international marketplace does not want genetically modified hay.

All imports to China are supposed to be GMO-free. This could cause China to avoid purchasing US grown hay entirely as they are not interested in feeding their livestock RoundUp Ready. Fortunately, the Western Canadian production of GMO-free alfalfa hay is still safe and free of all RoundUp Ready traits. Customers from overseas can be confident that the GMO-free alfalfa hay from Canadian growers like Barr-Ag has no trace of genetic modifications or any traits that come with it.

A spokesperson from the USDA stated that the organization has been working with authorities and U.S. alfalfa growers to find out why imported hay is coming up with GM traits after being through China’s genetically engineered testing. They want to find out why this ‘certified’ forage came up positive for GM traits and come to an agreement.

“The current threshold of acceptance is 5% GMO by Chinese importers, but this could be tightened to 0.2%, and growers would be hard pressed to meet these standards with unintended cross-pollination along with the shady practices of GM companies who often grow ‘test’ fields of GM crops without regulatory approval.” – Natural Society article

China refused shipments of U.S. grown corn this past summer. The Chinese were concerned that the product contained a genetically modified strain call MIR 162. According to an article from Farm Futures the corn did indeed contain large traces MIR 162. The rejection of this corn cost at least $1 billion to the export economy.

It seems that China has no problem rejecting GM products from the United States. In fact, they even incinerated 3 massive shipments of GM produce from the United States. A passionate journalist shares his thoughts on China vs. Monsanto in this article.

Barr-Ag is proud to offer pure GMO-free alfalfa hay and other products that are far from potential contamination. Learn more about our Canadian grown alfalfa hay.

Alfalfa-Hay

 

 

Sources:

http://hayandforage.com/alfalfa/alfalfa-rejected-export-gmo-contaminated

http://farmfutures.com/story-ngfa-chinas-mir-162-rejection-has-significant-impact-grain-sector-0-111508

http://naturalsociety.com/gm-alfalfa-found-hay-exports-china/

Learning About Canadian Forage

Cutting canadian forage

Canadian forage has a good reputation

Canada is the premier supplier of hay, straw and other forage domestically and internationally. According to the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Canada exports approximately 600,000 tonnes of forage annually. This Canadian growth forage is valued at about $150 million and is shipped primarily to the Asia and the United States. Recently, markets for Canadian forage have started to emerge in parts of Mexico and the Middle East.

The Canadian Prairies have developed a good reputation for producing high quality forage such as Timothy and Alfalfa hay. Clean air, long warm days, cool nights and soil rich in calcium and magnesium all contribute to ideal growing conditions.

In an article published in Country Guide, Glenn Friesen of Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development commented that these growing conditions are conducive to producing forages that increase animal performance.

High Quality Forage Dairy CowsFeeding your cattle high quality forage is essential for weight gain, producing higher levels of milk, and increasing reproduction success. In the end, all of these things add up to increasing profits for the cattle producer. For Canadian forage producers, this means keeping domestic and international customers happy.

Learning About Canadian Forage

Forages are plants used to feed livestock and can include Alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, pasture and browse plants, cereals and straw. In Canada, forages are the basis of our livestock industry. They also help conserve the rich soil as they add nitrogen to the soil and crop rotations improve the overall soil structure.

Alfalfa-HayAlfalfa hay is considered the one of the best quality forages available in the market and it is the most widely grown in Canada. Farmers from Asia and the United States purchase Canadian alfalfa for their dairy cattle and horses. It will grow under most conditions, can be adapted to many different climatic regions and does especially well in Western Canada.

The quality of the forage is dependent on the following factors:

  • Management of the soil
  • Nutrient composition
  • Seeding rates
  • Timing of cutting, raking and baling
  • Storage of the forage

Young forage is higher in protein and energy that older flowering forage, which is why cutting it at the right time is crucial to its quality.

Purchasing Canadian Forage

Barr-Ag Hay & Grain Exporters are positioned near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a location that provides a pristine environment for growing quality hay and other forages.  Among our most sought after products are Timothy hay, alfalfa hay, mixed hay, oaten hay, sweet hay, as well as various straws and our Canadian Grain Exports.

Unlike crops grown in countries with longer growing seasons and milder climates, our harsh Canadian winters help us to raise our hay crops using more natural methods. There is little to no need for pesticides and herbicides because prolonged cold weather acts as a natural pesticide and herbicide.

Because of the shorter growing season we get 1 or 2 cuttings in a season thereby giving the land ample time to rest and rejuvenate without excessive use of fertilizers. The availability of high quality hay, forage and grain, as well as Barr-Ag’s crop production methods are two reasons our customers have sought us out and helped make us Canada’s leading exporter of hay and forage.

To purchase Canadian forage contact Barr-Ag today!

Sources: http://www.country-guide.ca/2014/03/25/putting-prairie-forages-on-americas-stage/43638/

http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/statistics-and-market-information/by-product-sector/crops/pulses-and-special-crops-canadian-industry/forage/?id=1174594338500

Canadian Hay Certification Program

Canadian HayCanadian hay that is exported to international markets goes through the Canadian Hay Certification Program (CHCP).  This allows approved facilities like Barr-Ag to export Canadian hay that meets requirements for foreign phytosanitary import and is issued a Phytosanitary Certificate.

A Phytosanitary Certificate ensures that the hay has been inspected according to the required procedures and makes sure the product is free from quarantine pests, practically free from injurious pests and conforms to the regulations of the importing country.

In the 1980’s the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) teamed up with the Canadian hay industry to develop the CHCP.  The market for exporting Canadian hay was experiencing considerable growth and there was a need for phytosanitary certification to ensure quality control as more and more compressed, baled hay was being exported from Canada to international markets.

Approved processors and exporters of Canadian hay must go through the CHCP and meet the specific phytosanitary import requirements of each importing country.  To be approved as a certified hay processing facility, a facility must apply to the CFIA with a quality management system in place.

Quality Management System

The CHCP requires processing facilities like Barr-Ag to create and execute a Quality Management System.  This system includes, but is not limited to:

  • Creating a Quality Management System Manual outlining specific quality management procedures that must be followed.
  • Employee training program
  • Quality control protocol
  • Hay examination
  • Audit procedures

A proper Quality Management System will make certain that the product imported from a Canadian hay processing facility meets phytosanitary standards and follows required regulations throughout the processing procedures including quality control, storage, and shipping.

Canadian Hay Eligible for Certification

The following Canadian hay forages are eligible for certification:

If you are looking to purchase a different species of hay from Canada, the CFIA must verify the acceptability of the species to the importing country.

Review the Canadian Hay Certification Program Standards

International importers of Canadian hay are able to review the minimum standards that must be met by all approved processing facilities in Canada.  Documentation is available that outlines proper quality management systems, the process of conducting hay examinations for the purpose of CFIA certification, and administrative activities required of them by the CHCP.

Review the Canadian Hay Certification Program documents.

Barr-Ag processing facility in Arrowwood, AB.

Barr-Ag’s processing facility in Arrowwood, AB.

Quality Control – Canada’s Leading Exporter of Hay & Forage

At Barr-Ag, we keep a close watch on every aspect of our production, from growing conditions and harvest through to storage, processing and shipping.  Barr-Ag is approved by the CFIA and Phytosanitary Certificates are issued.

Barr-Ag is only as successful as our customer satisfaction; our customers have helped make us Canada’s leading exporter of hay and forage.

Contact Barr-Ag if you have specific questions about our hay and forage or want to place an order.

Sources:  

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/plants/exports/phytosanitary-certificates/eng/1299872808479/1299872974262

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/eng/1297964599443/1297965645317

Agricultural Growth Act

Late last year the Harper Government proposed the Agricultural Growth Act, a new bill that will encourage investment and modern innovation in the Canadian agriculture industry.  By increasing farmers’ access to new crop varieties, trade opportunities and reducing some red tape that caused difficulty in the past, this new bill will equip Canadian farmers with the tools needed to more successfully compete in national and international marketplace, contributing to Canada’s overall economic growth.

Changes to nine pieces of Canadian food and agriculture legislation are pending including changes to seven acts under the control of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and two by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  Read a detailed summary of the new agriculture bill.

Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz also stated at a press conference in Winnipeg that these changes will “modernize” and “streamline” these acts, providing more opportunities for Canadian farmers and ensuring they remain competitive in world markets.

One of the biggest changes is amendments to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act (PBR Act) to line up with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV ’91) agreement.  This includes a change to the Farmers’ Privilege that would allow farmers to use seeds from their own crops, encouraging more private sector breeding.  This could also lead to farmers paying breeders more in royalties.  Ritz stated he wants to bring Canada under the UPOV ’91 agreement by August 1, 2014.

Strengthening intellectual property rights for plant breeding could encourage investment in Canadian research and development.  By giving Canadian farmers access to a wider variety of seeds, the agriculture industry should see an enhanced crop yield, improved drought and disease resistance and will be able to keep up with worldwide trade demands.

“Agriculture worldwide is evolving in response to growing global populations and demand,” said Bev Shipley, MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Knowing that, our government will continue to provide better tools and services to help Canadian farmers prosper on world markets and serve the needs of Canadians.”

The Grain Growers of Canada are behind the new bill.  Gary Standford, President of the GCC wrote a letter to Ritz stating “We think UPOV ’91 will help pave the way for much greater investment in the development of new seed varieties for Canadian farmers, which will be needed to meet the greatly increasing global demand for food.”

The Alberta Wheat Board supports the changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights but have a few concerns.  They wrote a letter of support for these amendments to Agriculture and Agrid-Food Canada with the following conditions:  farmers must be able to save seed, Ottawa continues to fund pre-breeding genetic research, and that there is recognition of a public equity stake in Canada’s proprietary cereal’s germplasm, which has been developed and funded by producer and tax payers dollars for the past 100 years.

According to the Alberta Farm Express, the National Farmers Union opposes the bill.  NFU president Terry Boehm believes UPOV ’91 is not needed and was quoted, “Our plant breeders’ rights legislation conforms with all of our international trade obligations. This is simply a mechanism to extract more dollars out of the farmers’ pockets. Full stop.”

Learn more about the proposed changes to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, UPOV ’91 and the Farmers Privilege:  Questions & Answers on the Agricultural Growth Act.

 

Sources:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/news-releases/2013-12-09/eng/1386435526001/1386435540960

http://newsadvertiser.com/wordpressmu/blog/2013/12/09/alberta-wheat-commission-supports-modernization-of-plant-breeders-rights/

http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=6378152&File=19

UPOV ’91 coming through ‘Agricultural Growth Act’