Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hog packing capacity increasing

After worries that there wouldn’t be enough packing plant capacity last fall, this year there are new plants coming on stream, including the Clemens Food Group close by at Coldwater, Michigan.

It will be competing for hogs from Ontario, but will be facing aggressive bidding from Quebec packers who pay the freight to their plants, says Patrick O’Neil, marketing division manager for the Ontario Pork marketing board.

“It’s unambiguously good news to have more processing capacity close to Ontario,” O’Neil is quoted in an article by John Greig of Glacier FarmMedia.

The Clemens Food Group, a vertically integrated pork production company, is building a 550,000-square-foot fresh pork processing plant which is about a four-hour drive from Sarnia or Windsor, making it the closest U.S. plant.

Regulations also allow more weight per axle, or hogs per trailer, in Michigan than in Ohio or Indiana.

The plant will begin buying hogs before end of the year.

Seaboard Triumph Foods is building a new plant at Sioux City, Iowa and Prestage Farms says it wants to build in Iowa, but so far hasn’t been able to nail down a site.

New processing capacity won’t necessarily mean higher pork prices, O’Neil said.

“I still think most packing plants, they’re not wanting to outbid their competitors and pay more than the U.S. average price for hogs,” he told Greig.

The Clemens family also produces hogs and will use much of the plant capacity. It also has commitments from other producers.

“It’s going to be a really good option close by and it’s a big company. To actually gauge the impact, we’re going to have to see what happens,” said O’Neil.

“The distance, especially if you have pigs in London or west, it’s significantly closer to ship the pigs into Coldwater than into Quebec.”

Nigerian wins World Food Prize

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, is this year’s winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize.

He is the son of a farm worker who rose to head the bank where he made sure loans were available to improve agriculture.

He said the future of global food security relies on making farming in Africa a profitable business and developing local food processing. Adding value to agricultural products helps lift farmers out of poverty.

"I believe that what Africa does with agriculture and how it does it is not only important for Africa but it's important for how we're going to feed the world by 2050 because 65 per cent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world is in Africa," he said.

"To help Africa get it right in agriculture is also going to be a key part of securing food for the world."

African nations, such as South Sudan, are now in the midst of the worst famines in 75 years, but it's wars, not farming technology or profitability, that are the reason.

California wants warning on Roundup labels

California is moving to require companies to label Roundup and other weed killers containing glyphosate that the chemical is a potential cause of cancer.

The first step is putting glyphosate on a regulatory list on July 7.

A year later, the listing could come with warning labels on the product, officials said.

But it’s not certain that the regulation will go into effect because Monstanto, maker of Roundup, has filed an appeal.

Environmental regulators in California also conceded that it’s not certain that glyphosate causes cancer.

Chicken’s poisoning some Canadians

Breaded chicken products are poisoning some Canadians with salmonella bacteria.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are seven cases of Salmonella illness in four provinces – one each in Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick and four in Alberta.

Two people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Individuals became sick between April and May of this year. Seventy per cent of the sick people are male and the average age is 26, says the agency.

But it’s not saying whose products are suspected of causing the illnesses, although it does say they are breaded chicken.

They are advising the public to thoroughly cook breaded chicken products since the chicken inside could be contaminated.

Food safety communications expert Dr. Doug Powell writes that the agency misses the point that there could be cross contamination in kitchens before the products are cooked.

He also blasts the agency for failing to identify the company and products involved and for taking more than a month to publish its caution to the public.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Free okra seed available for trials

Ramesh Eerpina is offering free seed to any Ontario farmer who wants to try growing a crop of okra.

It’s a green pod-like vegetable popular in the Southern United States and some other countries.

The Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland has been working on the crop for more than five years, and now thinks that yields of 20,000 kilograms per hectare are possible.

Eerpina, who is the senior research technician of vegetable production with the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, says more than six million kilograms was imported in 2015 for sale in Ontario stores.

There’s okra information on the institute’s webside: VinelandResearch.com.