Friday, April 28, 2017

Alberta names new leader to its “AgriCorp”

Alberta says it will soon appoint eight directors who will work under new oversight rules for the agency that handles crop insurance, disaster aid and farm loans. It’s somewhat like AgriCorp in Ontario.

Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier appointed professional agrologist Jennifer Wood to chair the new board of the Agriculture Financial Services Corp.

Carlier sacked the old six-member board about a year ago and suspended three top executives.

"I lost confidence in the last board after an investigation of staff expenses left me seriously concerned that there was a culture of entitlement at AFSC," Carlier said Thursday.

An audit found the executives engaged in questionable purchasing practices and racked up lavish expenses for trips, dinners and limousine rides. The executives were suspended with pay.

Carlier said two of the executives have retired while the former president, Brad Klak, did not have his contract renewed.

Carlier says a police investigation continues, and says the new board will now hire a permanent CEO.

The corporation has 600 employees spread over 46 offices with a head office in Lacombe.

An internal audit, delivered to Carlier a year ago, focused on the preceding four years and found numerous irregularities.

Many of the problems surrounded the broker hired by the corporation.

Despite rules forbidding gifts from vendors, the report says the three executives received "meals, alcohol, paid entertainment (including theatre and concert tickets and sporting event admissions), rounds of golf and gifts on a frequent basis over four years from the broker.''

The report said executives racked up unjustified expenses including a return trip limousine ride from Lacombe to Edmonton for the president to attend the company Christmas party.

There was $5,108 for a dinner for the executives in Tokyo and $19,144 paid to a consultant in return for a share of a luxury suite at Edmonton Oilers hockey games.

The audit also found procurement rules weren't followed and that the broker was paid almost $300,000 more than the official agreed-upon price.

But the truth is that the NDP government was anxious to sack the Tory hacks.

Feds donate $1.5 million for maple syrup marketing

The federal government is helping the Quebec maple syrup marketing board to bail out of a huge surplus by giving it $1.5 million to research new uses and to improve marketing.

The Quebec maple syrup association will be working with Royaume Uni et de l’Inde.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ag Canada tops up greenhouse gas research

The federal agriculture department is adding $2.2 million to a $27-million program to research ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to farming.

The University of Guelph is working with funding from 47 countries involved in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

The research is in four areas -  livestock systems, cropping systems, agricultural water use efficiency and agro-forestry.


Potash Corp posts a profit

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan posted a profit of $149 million for its first quarter, almost double the amount a year ago.

Revenues declined by eight per cent to $1.11-billion, despite a 13.4 per cent increase in potash sales.

The company continues discussions with governments, aiming to complete its purchase of Agrium, the world’s largest retailer of fertilizers. Potash Corp. is the world’s largest potash company.

 “We continue to work through the regulatory process in key jurisdictions and remain confident the transaction will close mid-2017,” said Jochen Tilk, the chief executive officer.

Maple Leaf profit plunges

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. reports a 29 per cent decline in profits from $42 to $30 million for its first quarter.

Sales increased by 1.8 per cent from $796 to $811 million.

The company did not, as has been its usual practice, break down financial results by divisions, so it has not disclosed whether it made or lost money on its hog-farming operations and pork-slaughter plant in Manitoba.