New manure process unveiled at Fair Oaks

New manure process unveiled at Fair Oaks

Midwestern BioAg, a Wisconsin-based company, recently unveiled a new manufacturing process that transforms dairy manure into a uniform, dry fertilizer granule

EPA honors CA creamery

EPA honors CA creamery

Crystal Creamery has received a Food Recovery Challenge Innovation Award for its zero waste leadership.

WA dairy trying to keep manure out of groundwater

WA dairy trying to keep manure out of groundwater

Work is reportedly underway at a Lower Valley dairy to ensure cow manure stored in ponds doesn’t seep into groundwater.

Smaller sweet cherry trees

Smaller sweet cherry trees

Bigger may not be better for sweet cherry trees.

VRIC to develop new apple, tomato varieties

VRIC to develop new apple, tomato varieties

The Vineland Research & Innovation Centre is receiving a $920,000 federal investment from the federal government to develop disease-resistant apple varieties

video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 May 11, 2016...
Which glyphosate-resistant weed is most problematic to Ontario growers? Peter Sikkema answers this question and provides control and management strategies for dealing with glyphosate resistance in this exclusive interview from the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit.
video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 May 4, 2016...
How can farmers preserve the herbicides they are so dependant on? Neil Harker, a weed scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lacombe, Alta., suggests strategies to help slow down herbicide resistance in this week’s exclusive video from the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit.
video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 April 27, 2016...
Jason Norsworthy, a professor in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences at the University of Arkansas, spoke at the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit about the status of herbicide resistance in the United States. In this exclusive video, Norsworthy offers insight on the future of herbicide resistance, and suggestions for best management practices.
video
Herbicide Resistance Summit 2016 April 20, 2016...
Harvest weed seed control is a management practice that has seen great success in Australia. In this week’s exclusive video from the 2016 Herbicide Resistance Summit, Breanne Tidemann and Michael Walsh discuss the potential for adapting this strategy to Canada, and the benefits and challenges of harvest weed seed control.

Business/Policy

Global

Everyday, 60 trucks supply approximately 2,000 tonnes of poultry manure to the BMC Moerdijk power plant. Working together, European style

  In Europe, where intensive livestock production is common in countries like the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, concern has been raised about its environmental consequences, including runoff of excessively applied nitrate and phosphate contamination of surface water and soil. Manure produced by intensive livestock production can lead to atmospheric emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide, and mono-nitrogen oxides, like NO and NO2, especially when directly spread on cropland. In the 1990s, EU council, parliament and commission met to discuss possible solutions. Those discussions led to the implementation of new, more stringent regulations, including the nitrates directive – better known as 91/676/EEC – which limits application rates of livestock manure to arable land. These restrictions led farmers to look for alternatives, such as composting and biogas production. In the Netherlands, where agricultural production is especially intensive, the issue prompted poultry farmers into action. Together, they came up with a unique solution – convert poultry manure into electricity. “We were producing too much manure in comparison to the arable land we had,” explained Wil van der Heijden MBA, director at Duurzame Energieproductie Pluimveehouderij (DEP), a co-operative of more than 600 Dutch poultry farmers who supply the Moerdijk-based power plant with poultry manure for fuel. “We also had a problem with too much phosphate in the soil and nitrogen in the water.” Van der Heijden is right; Dutch farmers do produce more manure than the arable land around them can use. The issue doesn’t just affect poultry farmers either. In fact, Dutch dairy farmers were recently told they have to reduce herd size in order to comply with EU phosphate regulations. Overproduction of manure has also been a problem for Dutch poultry farmers. Each year, poultry in the Netherlands produce approximately 1.3 million tonnes of litter. Of that, 650,000 tonnes is exported to Germany, Belgium and France for use as fertilizer – a job that is facilitated by traders who make money by taking manure out of the hands of farmers and putting it into the hands of other farmers. For decades, Dutch poultry farmers were at the mercy of these traders, who charged €30-35 ($33.34 to $38.90 US) per tonne for removal. For a 100,000-bird broiler farm, this amounted to €30,000 to €35,000 ($33,350 to $38,900 US) each year, a hefty fee that left many struggling. In 1998, Dutch poultry farmers met to discuss how they could separate themselves from the traders, as well as regulations and borders. Their solution was to join forces with a power plant and turn poultry manure into electricity. In 1999, the farmers formed DEP. The farmer members supply litter to BMC Moerdijk, a company that produces electricity using a fluidized bed combustor. “They wanted to be independent from traders, from the weather, from the borders, and the regulations in Germany and France,” said Van der Heijden. “They learned that poultry manure could be used as fuel for electricity production and they found that there was some experience in the U.K., although very small scale.” From conceptualization to the plant’s opening, it took 10 years for their plan to become a reality. First, explained DEP co-operative director Wil van der Heijden, they had to find the right location, which turned out to be Moerdijk, a town in the south of the Netherlands in the province of North Brabant. Then they had to apply for permissions and subsidies, look for partners and financing, and finally draw up fair contracts, which Van der Heijden said were crucial for reducing risk. Construction on BMC Moerdijk began in 2006 and concluded in 2008. Financing for the plant came from the bank, which fronted 80 percent of the overall cost. The rest came from BMC Moerdijk’s shareholders. Delta, the company that buys the electricity BMC produces, owns 50 percent of the shares. The farmers association ZLTO and DEP own the remaining shares at 33 and 17 percent respectively. While Dutch poultry farmers were once paying €30 to €35 ($33.34 to $38.90 US) per tonne to traders for removal, in 2008, when BMC started production, farmers who joined the co-operative were contracted at €20 ($22 US) per tonne. Immediately, the traders dropped their rate to match that of BMC’s, said Van der Heijden. “We told farmers that we could process their manure for 10 years for between €15 and €20 ($16.65 US to $22 US) [per tonne],” he said. “That’s why they signed the contract. But immediately after that, the traders dropped the price to €20 ($22 US) – and then even dropped to €10 ($11 US) two years later. You can imagine that all the members in 2012 were very angry.” Today, the farmers are happy. They now pay just €11.50 to €12 ($12.75 US to $13.30 US) per tonne. “We dropped the price in 2013,”explained Van der Heijden. “We had to drop the price from €20 to €11 ($22 US to $12.20 US) or €12 ($12.75 US) because they were so pissed off… because they all wanted to move. And if there is no fuel, there is no possibility to produce electricity. So, we had to join them.” Today, BMC processes some 430,000 tonnes of poultry manure – one-third of the total amount of poultry manure produced in the Netherlands – each year. Everyday, 60 trucks supply approximately 2,000 tonnes to the power plant. Using that manure, BMC generates 285,000 MWh of power each year. The plant uses a small amount of the electricity it produces and supplies approximately 245,000 MWh to the electrical grid. The electricity the company produces is enough to meet the needs of 80 percent of all Dutch poultry farmers for one year. BMC Moerdijk doesn’t just produce electricity, though. It also produces ash, which is a by-product of the incineration process. The ash contains highly valuable minerals, like potassium and phosphorus. It is sold to customers in the agricultural and horticultural sectors outside of the Netherlands. Those customers use the ash, sold under the name PeaKsoil, as a fertilizer to improve soil. In its first years of operation, BMC Moerdijk learned several important lessons. First, not all types of manure are suitable for processing. “We thought poultry manure is poultry manure, but it isn’t,” said Van der Heijden. “There are a lot of differences between manure from layer hens and broilers, and turkeys and breeders.” Storage was also an issue. Without storage the company sometimes had to work 15 days off and 15 days on. Today, BMC can store 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes. “It is very important to have stable supply and demand,” explained Van der Heijden. “We also learned that the cooperative structure was useful for this type of corporation. We also learned that fixed contracts are very crucial because otherwise halfway all of the members would have left the co-operative. The fixed contracts were very useful for us and the bank to reduce the risks.” Electricity from poultry manure is a cleaner alternative to direct land application, explained Gerd-Jan de Leeuw, MSc, at a recent visit to the plant. De Leeuw is responsible for the fuel and PeaKsoil at BMC Moerdijk. Electricity production from poultry manure saves on emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Spreading poultry manure on the land also causes larger emissions of NH3, N2O and NOx than combustion does. Finally, the ash that’s recovered has a lower mass and volume than the manure, making it more suitable for export to regions that require phosphate. “All of the minerals, except nitrogen and organic matter, are in the PeaKsoil, so in the ash,” said De Leeuw. “We can sell it as a fertilizer. We sell it to countries where they have a phosphate demand.” Those countries include Belgium, France and the United Kingdom where it has been especially useful in corn and wheat crops. All in all, BMC has proven itself as a sustainable and reliable electricity producer. Dutch poultry farmers, as a result of their cooperation with BMC, have not only complied with their obligation to process poultry manure, but also helped reduce the Dutch phosphorus surplus by approximately 8,000,000 kg P2O5 each year. The company also contributes to the Netherlands’ goal of lowering CO2 emissions and using 14 percent renewable energy by 2020. Finally, BMC has helped reduce poultry farmers’ NH3 emissions by 25 percent since 2008. This summer, BMC was in heavy discussion with DEP, as the 10-year contracts with its members are up at the end of 2017. The discussions were a great success with 87 percent of poultry farmer members renewing their contracts, which will start January 1, 2018. Those contracts expire at the end of 2029. On average, members will pay €6.50 ($7.20 US) per tonne, an amazing reduction since 2007.      

Profiles

Pictured (left to right): Komie Hossini (Bayer), Teresa Garside (John Deere), Jennifer and Andrew Lovell (Atlantic Canada winners), Célia Neault & Dominic Drapeau (Quebec winners), Arvid Dhar (CIBC) and Luanne Lynn (COYF president). Quebec and Atlantic families named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016

  Dec. 7, 2016 - Andrew and Jennifer Lovell of Keswick Ridge, N.B. and Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Ste-Françoise-de-Lotbinière, Que. have been named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016. These two farm families were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada at OYF’s national event last week in Niagara Falls, Ont. Both families have dreamed of owning their own farm since they were young and were not afraid to make changes and embrace technology along the way. Their entrepreneurial spirits and adaptability has made them successful both on and off the farm. “All of this year’s regional honourees have shown us their incredible passion for agriculture,” OYF president Luanne Lynn says. “It was extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision, but ultimately our winners stood out for their state-of-the art thinking and commitment to the future of Canadian agriculture.” The Lovell’s story is different than most because neither of them grew up on a farm. In 2012 they purchased their farm River View Orchards with roots tracing back to 1784, and created a diversified u-pick farm market operation. It wasn’t an easy start as they suffered $100,000 in damage in 2014, but they persevered and adapted their plans until they were able to begin full production again. By offering fence and trellis construction services and building attractions which brought over 1,400 visitors to their farm they were able to carry on with the farm they have always dreamed of. Drapeau and Neault are third-generation dairy and field crop farmers who are not afraid to make changes and embrace technology. Raised in a farming family, Dominic got involved in the family business at a young age. When he was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities.  In the barn they use genomic testing on young animals, motion detectors for reproduction, a smart scale on the mixer-feeder and temperature probes close to calving. In the fields, the farm uses a satellite navigation system for levelling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year. “The national event in Niagara Falls this year was a great opportunity to showcase all of the great contributions to Canadian agriculture,” Lynn says. “All of the regional OYF honourees really went outside of the box and pushed the boundaries this year.” Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farm couples in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. The Lovell’s and Drapeau/Neault were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions: Brian and Jewel Pauls, Chilliwack B.C. Shane and Kristin Schooten, Diamond City, Alta. Dan and Chelsea Erlandson, Outlook, Sask. Jason and Laura Kehler, Carman, Man. Adrian and Jodi Roelands, Lambton Shores, Ont. Celebrating 36 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, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.  

Human Resources

Ag sector’s reliance on temporary foreign workers is growing Ag sector’s reliance on temporary foreign workers is growing

December 5, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Canada’s agriculture sector faces a persistent lack of sufficient workers with the right skills and in the right places. Labour shortages have doubled over the last decade and are projected to double again to 113,800 positions before 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report. This report relies on research findings from a three-year agriculture labour market research project conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in collaboration with the Conference Board. “The agriculture sector is having difficulty recruiting and retaining domestic workers. As labour shortages have expanded, the sector has increasingly turned to temporary foreign workers to fill the labour gap,” said Michael Burt, director of industrial economic trends with the Conference Board of Canada. “Finding solutions to the labour shortages in the years to come is critical for the future growth of the sector.” The report – Sowing the Seeds of Growth: Temporary Foreign Workers in Agriculture – examines why temporary foreign workers (TFWs) play such an important role in the agriculture sector’s workforce. It finds that the industry faces unique recruitment and retention challenges that are contributing to its growing labour shortages. These challenges include an aging workforce, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector. Highlights of the report include: Labour shortages within Canada’s agriculture sector have doubled over the past decade and are expected to double again by 2025. At its seasonal peak, the sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at seasonal lows. Three-quarters of the sector’s labour gap has been filled by temporary foreign workers. The most prominent challenge is the large seasonal fluctuations in employment. At its seasonal peak, the agriculture sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at its seasonal lows, which represents a 30 per cent fluctuation. The average difference between the seasonal peak and low in employment for all other sectors is just four per cent. These seasonal fluctuations are why more than three quarters of agricultural TFWs arrive as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. TFWs have become a key part of the sector’s continued operations and will likely continue to play a growing role in the future. TFWs have been able to fill three-quarters of the industry’s labour shortage gap and now represent one-in-10 workers in the sector. In addition to easing much of the sector’s labour shortages, TFWs have contributed to the growth in agricultural production over the past decade and have supported the employment of Canadians in the sector. Many farm operators indicate that they would have closed, leading to Canadian job losses, had they not had access to TFWs. Finding solutions to the sector’s growing labour gap in the years to come is important. However, just paying more or buying more machines are not the panacea they would seem. For example, wages in agriculture have risen relative to the average for all sectors over the past 15 years, but the number of Canadians willing to work in agriculture has shrunk. At the same time, a dramatic increase in the amount of machinery employed per worker has contributed to agriculture experiencing the strongest labour productivity gains of any major sector over the past 20 years. Yet, the sector’s labour gap has continued to expand. One potential solution may be re-evaluating the effectiveness of Canada’s immigration programs so that they better meet the needs of the agriculture sector. With federal immigration policies geared toward attracting high-skilled workers, they offer few pathways for permanent residency for lower-skilled workers, even though agriculture has a critical need for them. A path toward permanent residency for migrant workers, who are filling a permanent market need, would assist farm operators in finding a permanent solution to their labour challenges. This research was funded by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

Financial Planning

Tax obligations as a farm business operator Tax obligations as a farm business operator

August 3, 2016 - Running a farm can be a 24-hour job. You likely don’t have time for all the tax filings, paperwork and payments required by the government let alone trying to keep track of all the deadlines. To ensure you have everything on your calendar, here is a list of tax dates including remittance payments, payroll deductions and GST/HST filings. Tax deadlines and payments January 16 - December or quarterly payroll deduction payment due January 31 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period
 February 15 - January payroll deduction payment due February 28- Deadline for filing T4 Summary and supplementary slips. Deadline to make RRSP contributions for the previous tax year. March 15 – If you pay taxes by instalments, a payment is due before this date. Also February Payroll Deduction payment due
 April 15 - March or quarterly payroll deductions payment due April 30, 2016 - Deadline for individual T1 tax returns. Even if you’re self-employed, you must pay any taxes owing by this date or you will be charged interest. Also deadline to apply for AgriStability and submit program fees.
 May 1 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period May 15 - April payroll deduction payment due
 June 15- Deadline for self-employed persons to file tax return. If you or your spouse or common-law partner carried on a business your tax return has to be filed on or before June 15. However, if you have a balance owing, you still have to pay it on or before April 30. If you pay taxes by instalments, a quarterly tax payment is due also May payroll deduction payment due.
 July 15 - June or quarterly payroll deduction payment due July 31 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period
 August 15 - July Payroll Deduction payment due
 September 15 – If you pay taxes by instalments, a payment is due before this date. August payroll deduction payment also due September 30 – Deadline to submit the previous year’s AgriInvest application without penalty
 October 15 - September payroll deduction payment due
 November 15 - October payroll deduction payment due
 November 30 - Due date for filing and remitting (GST/HST) for the prior quarterly reporting period
 December 15 – If you pay taxes by instalments, a payment is due before this date. November payroll deduction payment also due December 31 - If your main source of income is self-employment income from farming or fishing, you have to make only one instalment payment by December 31. It’s also the deadline to submit AgriStability/AgriInvest Harmonized form with penalty. Other obligationsIf you’re incorporated, your corporation income tax return is due no later than 6 months after the end of the corporation tax year. The tax year of a corporation is its fiscal period. If you hire contractors, the T5018 Statement of Contract Payments information return is due 6 months after the end of the reporting period you have chosen. It can seem overwhelming. Your best decision may be to hire a bookkeeper and small business tax specialist to take care of this for you. Hiring a small business tax professional will allow you to focus on more important things and maybe even allow a bit of free time to spend with family and on leisure activities. 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.