Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Farm group seeks alliance with Gray eggs

Three Ontario egg farmers are heading an effort to develop an alliance with Bill Gray and his Gray Ridge Eggs egg-grading business.

They have e-mailed a number of egg producers, inviting them to meet with Gray on the afternoon of April 26 at the St. Mary’s Golf and Country Club.

This initiative comes in the context of two other developments – the establishment of a new egg-grading business by the Nutri Group in Kitchener and a new statement of claim by Sweda Farms Ltd. against Gray and the Ontario egg marketing board.

The Sweda lawsuit is now more than five years old, but still active, although the courts have dismissed the claims against Joe Hudson and his Burnbrae and Maple Lynn Foods businesses.

Nutri Group set up its Kitchener site last year, competing directly with Gray’s operations in nearby Listowel and Elmira and further north-west in Strathroy. 

There had been no significant competition in the area after Burnbrae and Gray together bought Metzger Produce, based just west of Elmira and split its suppliers and clients between themselves.

In their e-mailed invitation, Veldman, Helps and McKillop say they recently met with Gray and “have developed a much better appreciation of the grading and distribution side of the egg business.”

They say they “asked Bill (Gray) to consider becoming financial partners in Gray Ridge Eggs” and said he agreed to attend a question-and-answer session during the April 26 meeting.

In the new statement of claim, Sweda lays out a history of Burnbrae and Gray trying to both buy and/or destroy its Best Choice Eggs business. 

The egg board got involved by claiming that farmers supplying Best Choice Eggs were cheating on levies because Sweda’s percentage of Grade A eggs was lower than the provincial average.

The new statement of claim seeks $32 million in damages and another $10 million in aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages.

It also seeks a declaration that the Ontario egg board is not entitled to payment of an invoice for about $45-million. 

If the case proceeds to trial, it will likely be in Toronto.

Sweda is located at Blackstock near Peterborough, Burnbrae at Lyn, east of Kingston, and Gray at Strathroy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Twenty meat inspection violations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has revealed information pertaining to 20 warnings and fines it issued to Ontario meat packers between January, 2016, and Oct. 27, 2017, but not the names of the companies.

An unidentified applicant sought the information via the Access to Information process and the CFIA response is now open to anybody who wants it.

But none of the companies are identified and only bare-bones information remains after censorship.

For example, a company in Brampton was fined $7,800 in January, 2016, but there is no information to indicate what violation led to the fine, nor the company involved.

In a similar vein, a company in Guelph was fined $7,800.

There were two fines of $6,000 each, another two of $7,800 each and one of $10,000, but no indication left after censorship to indicate where the companies are located, what the companies are, nor what the violations were.

Pure timothy, alfalfa export market’s hot

Water scarcity in the Middle East is prompting a new and keen demand for pure timothy and pure alfalfa hay, a market that could be tapped by Ontario farmers.

A couple of farmers have tried growing pure timothy, seeding a variety that has larger heads, can be planted like winter wheat in the fall and harvested early the following year.

The Ontario Hay and Forage Council is inviting participation to build a compactor in Southwestern Ontario that will cost $10 to $15 million and will squeeze dried and baled hay to about half its size so more can be packed into a container to ship from Montreal.

The key is harvesting peak-quality hay and getting moisture content to less than 18 per cent, usually requiring an on-farm investment in a drier so hay can be harvested quickly before rains reduce quality.

Fritz Trauttmansdorff says the Middle East opportunity is timely because the governments are rationing water to farmers, cutting off irrigation for forages so there’s enough to grow the crops that humans consume.

That has dairy herd and camel owners scouting for imported forages and because their demands are relatively new, it’s simply a matter of selling hay to them without having to compete to wedge a way into markets where competitors are well established.

Feed markets hit by Chinese tariff

China is imposing a 179 per cent tariff on sorghum from the United States, a hit that will back up sorghum in the North American feed markets.

That will likely ripple through to all grains used in feed rations.
The Chinese response answers a move by United States President Donald Trump to ban American companies from selling parts and services to ZTE for seven years. 

The US threatened the ban in 2017 after ZTE illegally shipped equipment to Iran and North Korea. 

Further misconduct led the Commerce Department to impose the ban, according to a statement from the agency. 

ZTE buys microchips from Qualcomm (QCOM) and glass from Corning (CNIG), and the company is the fourth biggest smartphone supplier in the United States.

This is the latest in a string of tariffs the United States and China have imposed in tit-for-tat moves that began early in the month.

First the U.S. slapped a 25 per cent tariff on steel snd aluminum. China countered with tariffs on imports worth about $3 billion last year, including pork.
Trump then imposed tariffs on more Chinese products and China answered with a much bigger round of tariffs that includes beef, fruits, nuts and cotton.

China offered an olive branch by reducing tariffs on autos, but Trump’s response was the ban on selling to ZTE.

Two Perth County farms hit by PED

Two finisher barns in Perth County have had outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

They follow close on the heels of two other outbreaks three days earlier, one in a Perth County farrow-to-finish operation, the other in a Huron County nursery.

These outbreaks bring the total experienced in Ontario to 111 since the first outbreak Jan. 22, 2014, in Middlesex County.

The virus is believed to have come to Canada from the United States, including a number of outbreaks related to blood plasma that Grand Valley Fortifiers of Cambridge incorporated in rations for weaners.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hepatitis A prompts berry recall

The federal and Quebec governments are alerting the public to avoid eating Montana brand frozen strawberries from Groupe Adonis Inc. because they might catch hepatitis A virus.

Some people have been infected after consuming the berries, says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on its website.

The ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) transmitted an alert to the news media late last week.

The berries were only sold at Adonis stores in Quebec and Ontario.

Massive U.S egg recall

The U.S. government has ordered an Indiana business to recall about 200 million eggs after 22 consumers fell ill with salmonella food poisoning.

The eggs were widely distributed, including to Walmart and Food Lion supermarkets.

The eggs came from the company’s farm in Hyde Park, North Carolina.

The head office for the egg business is at Seymour, Indiana.

The farm has three million hens producing about 2.3 million eggs per day.

The bacterium strain involved is Salmonella braenderup.