Saturday, October 22, 2016

Soylent food bars recalled

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Rosa Foods Inc. is recalling Soylent food bars after some consumers became sick.

It doesn’t say what caused the illnesses, how many people are involved or how serious their illnesses are.

Soylent is an engineered food that is marketed via the internet as a drink, as powder, coffee or food bar.

The company website says “all of our products use bioengineered algae as a source of lipids and essential omega fatty acids. Produced efficiently in bioreactors, rather than on farmland, these single-celled organisms require far less resources than traditional agriculture.”

Only the food bars are under recall now.

There is nothing about the recall on the website of the Public Health Canada Agency.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fowl importers lose licences

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAuley says five Canadian companies have lost their licences to import spent fowl from the United States.

But he did not name the companies, nor did he reveal the length of their licence losses.

The Canada Border Services Agency administers the licensing.

Chicken Farmers of Canada and other provincial chicken marketing boards have been complaining for years that not all of the chicken declared as spent fowl, and therefore exempt from hefty tariffs, are what the importers claim. They believe many of the chickens are broilers which should be subject to the tariffs of more than 260 per cent.

The national agency said two years ago that the volume of imports of spent fowl exceeded the total U.S. volume of spent fowl.

I am asking the Canada Border Services Agency for the names of the companies and the length of time for which they lost their licences. I'm not holding my breath while I await an answer.

But I am pretty sure that at least one of Ontario's two largest poultry processors is guilty.

BAT bids $47 billion US for Reynolds

British American Tobacco (BAT) is bidding $47 billion US to buy the remaining shares it does not already own of Reynolds American Inc.

The logic of the deal, analysts say, is to make up for a decline in smoking in the firms' home markets of the U.S. and Britain as they look to developing countries and new products, such as electronic cigarettes.

The London-based company offered to buy the 57.8 per cent of Reynolds it doesn't already own for the equivalent of $56.50 per share, 20 per cent more than Thursday's closing price. Investors would receive $24.13 in cash and 0.5502 of a BAT share for each Reynolds share they own.

Imperial Tobacco is the largest in Canada, but ranks fourth in the world. Phillip Morris is the largest with BAT and Reynolds in second and third positions before this deal.

But in Canada, more than half the market is being captured by black-market cigarettes.

Poultry council speaks on antibiotic resistance

The International Poultry Council says it’s committed to addressing antimicrobial resistance, but it’s far from clear what that means.

The 20 nations that are partners in the council are responding to the United Nations’ report on antimicrobial resistance related to agriculture.

While most think the biggest issue is using low levels of antibiotics in feed to boost productivity, others think the biggest issue is maintaining the health of animals and birds.

The council’s news release talks about health, but not about using antibiotics to promote growth.
“The International Poultry Council shares the public’s concern about antibiotic resistance, which is an issue of global significance,” IPC President Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said in a news release.

“IPC recognizes the need for collaborative efforts among governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the poultry sector to minimize the development and transfer of antibiotic resistance.”

Recent IPC action on antibiotic resistance has included last year's issuance of a position statement on the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry production. Sumner said that the recent United Nations ministerial meeting on antimicrobial resistance has increased global visibility on the issue, particularly among international livestock organizations.

The discussion in Portugal included member countries' obligation to ensure that animals in their care are free from disease and as healthy as possible. Sumner said that the veterinary use of antibiotics and other interventions are effective and necessary tools to keep birds healthy.

“It’s important that our industry maintain access to these forms of treatment, to ensure that they are used responsibly under veterinary supervision, and only when necessary,” he said.

“Responsible use of antibiotics when treating not only poultry but all livestock is critical to minimize agriculture’s potential contribution to antibiotic resistance.”

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Foodgrains Bank is 40

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is celebrating its 40th birthday this month of helping hungry people around the world.

It was started by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Winnipeg and has expanded to become the most ecumenical Christian organization in North America, spanning denominations from Mennonite and Baptist to Roman Catholic and Salvation Army.

The first call put out by the MCC brought in 1,442 tonnes of grain from farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the grain went to India.

Today the 15 partner organizations attract donations from farmers, urbanites, churches, businesses, the Canadian government, and others from coast-to-coast. More than one million people in 40 countries were helped in fiscal 2015-16.

Corny Petkau, 72, was involved in that first collection of grain. He remembers driving from farm to farm in southern Manitoba, sticking his augur into grain bins and auguring out bushels of grain.

“I was glad to be a small part of that beginning,” he says. “We knew it was going where it was needed.”

Donating grain was also personal for Petkau, whose father emigrated from Russia in 1926.

“He was helped to get started in his new country, Canada, and he passed along to his children the message that we also needed to whatever we could to help others,” Petkau says.

Once collected, the grain was taken to Rosenort Seeds, owned by brothers Ben and Jake Friesen, where it was cleaned, processed and bagged before being loaded into a boxcar.

“When were asked, we were glad to offer our services,” says Ben of how he and Jake, now deceased, provided the services of their company to the first grain gathering effort.

“We were happy to be part of it, never realizing how big it would grow. We just wanted to do something to help.”

Ben, 78, is now retired but still involved with the Foodgrains Bank through the Scratching River Growing Project.  So is Petkau, who is part of the Living Grains Growing Project.

The projects are an idea that became popular, especially in Ontario where rural and urban congregations joined to plant mainly corn or soybeans, usually on donated land. Supply companies often conated fertilizers, seeds and pesticides.

Harvest time is often a co-ordinated effort of farmers, grain companies and the urban and rural congregations who come together to celebrate what they will be giving to feed needy people.

Donors can give to any one of the 15 partner organizations who put the grain or money into their “account” at the bank. Donors can also give to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank itself.

When disaster strikes, such as drought in East Africa, a partner organization working in a country in that area can draw from its account. Others can choose to lend support from their accounts.

Volunteers are drawn from the member churches to provide project supervision and liaison for relief efforts.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank works better than many global agencies which work with governments, too often resulting in frustrating bureaucracy and corruption.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank bypasses those bureaucratic structures to put resources directly into the stricken communities.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hydro promises to fix stray voltage

After years of denials, Hydro One is now promising to fix stray voltage issues that impact livestock performance.

Earlier this year it announced that it has a rapid response team.

Now it is telling farmers that if they have livestock issues, and have ruled out other causes, their rapid response team will investigate for stray voltage.

The team says if you feel you may have an issue, you can call the Farm Rapid Response Team, Monday to Friday between 8:30 and 4, at 1-888-405-3778.

Emails can also be sent to