Friday, February 23, 2018

Plan to reduce phosphorous needs funding

The Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative (PRC) has a plan to reduce farm-generated phosphorous pollution of Lake Erie. Now it needs money.

“We have involved a lot of skilled people who are eager to do their part to improve local water quality and help resolve this issue,” said Randy Hope, Mayor of Chatham-Kent and the project’s co-chair. “What we need is financial backing so we can get on with the job.”

The PRC steering committee, meeting recently in Woodstock, approved the proposed implementation plan, budget and financing strategy.

Next the PRC will proceed with nine demonstration projects, subject to financing, including:

 - Three edge of field phosphorus removal projects;

 - Three in-field blind inlet phosphorus removal  project, and

 - Three treatment technologies in the municipal drain system.

The western basin of Lake Erie has experienced several algal bloom incidents in recent years, disrupting the ecosystem, causing the closure of beaches and even, in Toledo, Ohio, a ban on city drinking water for two days. 

Lake St. Clair, which is an indirect pathway, has also been experiencing problems with near-shore algal blooms, and last year, they were discovered in the Thames River at Chatham.

The PRC is among the principal voluntary initiatives included in the Canada-Ontario Action Plan released recently.

The Action Plan is aimed at meeting the 2016 commitment between Canada and the U.S. to a 40 per cent reduction in the total phosphorus entering Lake Erie.

There is also a commitment among Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to reduce phosphorus to the western basin by 40 per cent by 2025.

“As farmers, our commitment to taking care of the land and water is strong, which is why we’re working collaboratively to find and use the best, most affordable and practical drainage and water management solutions,” said Mark Reusser, co-chair of the PRC and vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

The PRC represents agricultural organizations, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations, drainage professionals,  and environmental non-governmental organizations.


U.S. poultry farmers sue Koch, Sanderson

A group of poultry growers have sued Sanderson Farms and Koch Foods over “anticompetitive, collusive, predatory, unfair, and bad faith conduct in the domestic (United States) market for broiler growing services.”

The farmers' claims against Koch and Sanderson are spelled out in court documents claiming the two have had agreements for at least 10 years not to compete with one another for growers’ services, preventing the growers from seeking better contracts with other companies and with the “purpose and effect of fixing, maintaining, and/or stabilizing grower compensation below competitive levels.”

Of course, this could not happen in Canada's supply management system, although it could be possible for processors to collude to avoid competition in wholesale markets. I haven't got a shred of evidence that's what happens.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina by Haff Poultry Inc.; Nancy Butler; Johnny Upchurch; Jonathan Walters; Myles B. Weaver and Melissa Weaver. They are asking for a jury trial.

Sanderson Farms and Koch are the two named defendants, howeverf, in the court filing the growers allege that Agri Stats of Fort Wayne, Ind. and nearly every major poultry integrator in the country are “agents and co-conspirators.”

The suit claims that the integrators, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Packers and Stockyards Act, shared detailed information about how much and how each grower was compensated by way of data provided to Agri Stats, a third-party data aggregation and consulting firm.

Because the data was identified down to the plant location and the flock characteristics, the plaintiffs say companies could easily figure out the details of their contracts with integrators even though names and companies aren’t specifically disclosed.

The plaintiffs also said the companies’ highest-ranking executives exchange pertinent information directly with one another at meetings of the National Chicken Council, but that the information is never disclosed to the growers.

The plaintiffs are asking for the defendants to pay treble damages. plus interest, and for the court to bar the alleged behavior among poultry companies in the future.

Executives at Sanderson Farms and Koch Foods have not yet commented on the lawsuit.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Chinese use cameras to track pigs

China’s leading technology company, Alibaba, is working with Chinese pig producer Dekon Group and feed manufacturer Tequ Group to develop artificial intelligence systems to track pigs.

The deal announced earlier this month is worth tens of millions of dollars and will rely on video monitoring to replace radio-frequency ID (RFID) tags.

The cameras will identify and track numbers tattooed on the animals’ bodies.

It will not only count pigs, but also in Alibaba’s plans is monitoring temperature readings from infrared sensors, daily movement and sound sensors to detect coughing to alert staff to the potential outbreak of diseases.

The aim is to lower production costs, and ensure production of “safe, tasty pork,” said Zhang Sheng with Alibaba.

The advancement of technology in agriculture is leap frogging.

Cargill recently started testing facial recognition for dairy and beef cows.

Blue River Technology’s See and Spray can detect and identify weeds in the field, spraying one and avoiding another.

Hendrix finds resistance gene

Hendrix genetics researchers have found a gene that triggers chicken’s immune response.

The news from Wageningen University in the Netherlands says the discovery is a receptor that is an important sensor for activating the chicken’s immune system, specifically natural antibodies that fight pathogens and viruses.

The team says this discovery may lead to improved vaccines, health-promoting nutrition and breeding of birds and animals with a higher general disease resistance.

They said the benefits would include less antibiotic use, lower costs for farmers, and improved animal welfare.

Hendrix develops Hypor hogs, Hybrid turkeys, trout and salmon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Funds for produce disputes-settlement body

The federal government is investing more than $175,000 in the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC).

The DRC acts as a third party financial dispute resolution body for fruit and vegetable growers. It is getting $118,795 to deliver an outreach and education initiative on the impending Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and Regulations.

An additional $58,807 goes to support the industry to initiate work toward updating the Canadian grade standards for fresh fruits and vegetables in order to reflect current market and consumer preferences.