Grown-Up Bullying Alive and Well in Ontario as Farmers Get Steamrolled Over Neonics

By: Lyndsey Smith, reprinted with permission

Yesterday, the Ontario premier’s office and the ministry of the environment and climate change revealed its plan to restrict the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. The goal, referred to as “aspirational,” is to reduce the number of Ontario corn and soybean acres planted with the seed treatment by 80% by the year 2017. The details of the new rules, regulations and certification for using the pesticide will be determined by July of 2015, the province says, following a two month consultation process running through December, 2014, and January, 2015.

You’ll note I didn’t say that the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs is proposing this plan, even though, yes, technically it is. Want to know why? Because from what I saw yesterday, OMAFRA isn’t the lead on this even a little — premier Kathleen Wynne and her environment minister, Glen Murray, are. And if I were Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, or an Ontario farmer, I’d be feeling more than a little bullied at this point.

That this isn’t being driven by OMAFRA is a significant point, and speaks to the challenge ahead for farmers. It’s one thing to have to deal with changes and increased regulation stemming from your own ministry — a ministry that should understand and respect the complexity of your industry. It’s another beast to be expected to morph and fall in line with the demands of a ministry that is only handing down demands and not offering up any help on the solutions side. Mix in a bit of blatant ignorance of (or disregard for, I can’t tell which it is) farming and agriculture, and we’ve got ourselves a hot mess.

Farmers are, understandably, upset over the coming regulations. Wynne and Murray are busy patting themselves on the back and reminding voters how great they are, while simultaneously disregarding what it means on the ground for farmers and the environment. How so? Read on.

Access the full article here.

October Faces of Farming

Darcy, Lyndsay, Austyn, Oliver, Sadie and Dylan Smith

Take a glimpse into Darcy Smith’s world and it’s hard to believe he has time for anything extra. He’s a proud dad to four young children, full time farmer, sportsman and active volunteer with several community groups.

He’s also now the face of October in the 2014 Faces of Farming calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. He was nominated by Grain Farmers of Ontario for the honour and participated in a photo shoot in the summer of 2013 with his family. Continue reading

Inside Farming: View from an Iowa Farm

By: Brendan Louwagie, CanACT Member, University of Guelph

Misconceptions in agriculture in choosing seeds, ‘I’m no pawn of Monsanto’

Farm & Food Care Ontario photo

Winter allows a bit of downtime for most farmers. We use it to look back on the prior year and to make plans for the next. We learn from mistakes, failures, and successes, and attempt to make sense of it all. Personally, I think of each growing season as a clean slate to test out theories and debunk some popular myths about how a corn or soybean plant creates maximum yield. It’s also a time when we get to make choices about what to plant, where to plant it, and what seed to use in each situation. It’s often a very personal and private decision. Continue reading

A history of environmental responsibility

Effective use of resources at Kaiser Lake Farms

By Treena Hein

Eric and Max Kaiser

At Kaiser Lake Farms in the Bay of Quinte peninsula near Napanee Ontario, care for the land goes back many decades. Father and son Eric and Max (vice president and president of the farm) are building on a long history of environmental stewardship as they work the farm today – and look to the future.

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New company offers local, healthy snack options

By Jeanine Moyer

Becky Smollett is shown with two of her Ontario popcorn products

(Cambridge) – Have you ever heard of a popcorn farmer? We’ve got them right here in Ontario, and a new local business is bringing customers the flavour and healthy goodness of whole grain popcorn sourced directly from the farm. From Farm to Table, located in Cambridge, ON, is marketing fresh, seasoned Ontario popcorn across Canada to school children and snackers of all ages.

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Wingham grain farmer in 2014 Faces of Farming calendar

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Cheryl, Ainsley, Evelyn and Adam Garniss, grain farmers from Wingham

Wingham – When Cheryl Garniss left her family’s farm to study geography and environmental studies at Trent University she was considering a career in law, but her love of farming brought her back to agriculture.

After graduating, Cheryl first worked in agronomy at a crop supply centre, and later became manager there.  Since then, she and her husband, Adam, have moved to her husband’s family’s farm.  Cheryl loves what being a farmer has to offer, and the opportunity to have the whole family working together. Continue reading

Delivering flavours of the season to customers

By Jeanine Moyer

Braeside – Freshness and flavour are just a few reasons consumers purchase local Ontario produce. And for customers of McGregor’s Produce, they can add quality and taste to that list too because the McGregor family has built their business and reputation on those two traits.

“We only sell what we grow when it’s in season, and we won’t compromise on taste, quality or flavour,” says Ian McGregor of McGregor’s Produce, a multi-generation family produce farm located in Braeside, ON. The family grows strawberries, green and yellow beans, sweet corn, tomatoes and raspberries. Everything grown on the farm is sold directly to consumers through farm markets and roadside stands throughout the Ottawa Valley region.

Cam and Ian McGregor of McGregor’s Produce

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New technology assists in project’s goal of reducing fertilizer use

By Bruce Kelly, Farm & Food Care Ontario

At a farm near Woodstock Ontario, the Oxford County Soil and Crop Improvement Association is undertaking an innovative project using variable nitrogen application rates on corn.

At this point in the growing season, very few fields have even plant growth. Differences in soil type and precipitation can leave corn fields looking an uneven green or pale in colour and in need of nitrogen (N) to promote proper growth.  But it can be difficult for farmers to determine how much to apply.

Green Seeker technology is designed to help farmers to apply fertilizers more efficiently.

A project receiving funding from the Water Resource Adaptation Management Initiative (WRAMI) uses Green Seeker technology for zone management of nitrogen application. Rather than apply fertilizer at a uniform rate over an entire field, the system, mounted to the front of a tractor, measures the “greenness” of the corn plant (its chlorophyll content) as it drives along the field. It then directs the nitrogen applicator towed behind the tractor to apply nitrogen only where and at what rate it is needed. Continue reading

Researching the benefits of drip irrigation for corn crops

Over the next 18 months, a program called WRAMI (Water Resource Adaptation and Management Initiative) will allocate approximately $1,000,000 to various demonstration and pilot scale projects designed to help Ontario farmers be better prepared for low water response and drought preparedness and adapt their water use practices to deal with the growing impacts of climate change.

One project receiving funding involves collecting data from recently installed subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) equipment at three sites in corn fields in Ontario. Soil moisture sensors will identify when and how much water to apply. Irrigation will be applied at approximately 1’” per week (including rainfall).  Soil moisture monitoring will continue throughout the summer and at harvest, the yield of the corn will be recorded.

To see drip tape being installed and to learn how it works, check out Farm & Food Care’s YouTube video at