Friday, May 26, 2017

Woman embezzled $2.7 million

Melissa Day Morton of Edmond, Okla., has admitted she embezzled $2,681,400.73 from the Oklahoma Beef Council.

One way she stole money was by making out cheques to herself and forging the signature of the executive director.

She was the council’s accountant from October, 1995, until late July last year.

She also admitted guilt in filing false income tax returns.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New risk assessment tool coming

The federal government is investing $786,921 in Farm Management Canada to develop a new online agricultural risk-management tool called “AgriShield”. 

It will provide real-time assessments of the potential negative impact of risks to farm businesses and provide an outline of measures that could be taken to reduce the impact on their finances.

“For example,” says the government ‘if an overland flood situation is imminent, the tool can help farmers to assess the degree of risk they face and potential mitigation measures that they can adopt, such as tile draining or insurance coverage.”

Of course, if a flood is imminent, it would be too late to adopt those suggestions. One can only hope AgriShield works better in practice than the example provided.

Animal welfare goes global

Members of the World Organisation on Animal Health (OIE) have adopted a global strategy on animal welfare.

It began during the fourth OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare last December in Guadalajara, Mexico, and was adopted this week, says the OIE on its website.

The strategy aims to achieve “a world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced, in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, 
socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.”

The strategy has four elements:

Development of international animal welfare standards. They will involve leading researchers, “relevant scientific research’ and take into account ethics and practical experience. Pigs and the harvesting of reptiles for their skins will be a high priority

Enhancement of capacity building and training of veterinary services.

Communication with governments, national and international organisations, and the public to raise awareness on animal welfare. “Member countries are therefore highly encouraged to support the development of national programs for raising awareness of animal welfare and educating key players, particularly livestock owners, animal handlers, religious and community leaders and other key groups, such as school students.”

Progressive implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and their corresponding policies. “Member countries are urged to integrate OIE standards into their national legislations."

Jim McIntosh named to appeals tribunal

Jim McIntosh of Maberley has been appointed a member of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal.

He is a prominent egg farmer and philanthropist who has been active in many farm organizations.

He has been appointed for two years.

He has also been appointed to OMAFRA’s Board of Negotiation which deals with settlements for owners of livestock or crops damaged by contaminants.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Black counters supply management boasting

This is a letter to the editor of the Daily News from Glenn Black of Providence Bay, Manitoulin Island. He is one of the few campaigners to have persuaded a marketing board to reform.

Dear Editor:

(Sheri) Cooper's article on May 18, 2017, Chicken farming a major industry, can help educate consumers, as well as mislead them by errors of omission.

There are about 1,400 commercial chicken farmers under Ontario's Supply Management (SM) system, and about 2,700 Canada-wide; who are only four per cent of all Canadian chicken farmers.
Cooper failed to mention there are about 16,000 small flock chicken farmers in Ontario, and 65,000 across Canada who are non-SM.

SM imposes a "chicken apartheid" system where the minority rules the roost by stripping away to rights and freedoms of the 96 per cent majority of Canadian chicken farmers.

Cooper didn’t mention that SM farms (dairy, chicken, turkey, eggs) are just eight per cent of all Canadian farms, but SM farmers are the best paid of all Canadian farmers, earning 21 per cent more than non-SM farmers.

SM was invented to protect the small independent family run chicken farms. However, under SM’s jaded eye from 1966-2016 (the full reign of SM for chicken), 88 per cent of Canada's chicken farms have disappeared.

SM sets wholesale prices, which indirectly cause Canadians to pay between 50-300 per cent more for chicken in Canada as compared to most other countries around the world.

SM tries to claim those higher prices ensure Canadians get high quality chicken. In reality, many tests over many years by Public Health Canada, CFIA, University of Guelph and others have proved that 30-80 per cent of chicken sold in Canadian grocery stores are seriously contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, Heidelberg, campylobacteria, listeria, etc. superbugs (resistant to one or more antibiotics) make up about 50 per cent of those bacteria. This contamination can kill you, or make you seriously ill.

Frankenstein chemicals and antibiotics fed to the chickens behind closed barn doors, or the injection of drugs into hatching eggs even before the chicken has hatched has caused or contributed to this bacterial epidemic.

Before SM, Canada had one of the best quality, most efficient chicken production systems in the world. Over the last 50 years of SM, we have become mediocre. For example, free trade New Zealand chicken farmers have a chicken feed conversion ratio (FCR) that is 25 per cent better than Canada’s average FCR.

Since FCR accounts for about 60 per cent of the total cost of producing chicken, fat dumb and happy under the monopolistic, no competition SM system has caused the Canadian chicken industry to require intensive care protection on a chronic basis; unable to survive in the real world. Contrast that with Canadian beef, pork, grains, vegetable, and all other non-SM farmers who can compete with the best in the world, and do so every day.

Cooper correctly claims Canada exports chicken. What he didn't tell consumers is that SM is seen as an unfair subsidy by most of our trading partners, and world trade rules therefore limit the amount of government subsidized chicken that Canada can export. Canada has only four per cent of the OECD market share for exported chicken.

If SM was removed, and we regained our pre-SM productivity, Canada’s chicken industry could grow by 500 per cent through exports.

Glenn Black, president

Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump wants to cut farm subsidies

United States President Donald Trump wants to cut farm subsidies by $38 billion over the next 10 years, but is already running into stiff opposition.

The companies that market crop insurance said Trump is copying budget cuts proposed by Barrack Obama and others, but Congress has always rejected those cuts.

And the association representing soybean growers said it will fight the proposal to cut price supports.

But one of the big cuts is to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) which helps low-income families buy good nutrition and provides school lunches and similar programs.

That program was heavily criticized by the General Accounting Office, which operates in the U.S. much like the Auditor-General in Ottawa.

Glencore eying Bunge

Glencore Plc, the miner and commodities trader led by billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, has made a takeover approach for U.S. grain trader Bunge Ltd., reports Bloomberg news agency.

It’s not saying how it found out, other than from “a person with knowledge of the situation, asking not to be named discussing a private matter.”

Bunge, based in White Plains, New York, has a market value of about $11.3 billion.

The shares jumped as much as 17 percent Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal reported Glencore’s approach.

Bunge didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A Glencore official declined to comment.

Last month, Chris Mahoney, who runs Glencore’s agriculture unit, said in an interview that the company was trying to expand in the U.S., the world’s largest grain market.

"If we could fill the gap and adhere to our returns threshold, we will do it, but it’s proving not so easy," he said.

“We have looked in the U.S., it’s no secret. There aren’t any willing sellers.”

Last year Glencore was talking about selling its agriculture operations to reduce its debts in the face of declining fortunes in mining.

It bought Viterra, which rolled three Prairie wheat pools – the Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta wheat pools - into one company.

Little more than a year ago, the Canada Pension Plan paid $2.5 billion for 40 per cent of Glencore’s agriculture division.