RealAgriculture’s top 23 stories of 2023

23

Saskatchewan crops continue steady decline as moisture situation becomes more dire

There are plenty of acres in Western Canada that are seeing significant drought stress. Much of Saskatchewan started the growing season with adequate amounts of precipitation, but then came the heat, and the taps turned off. 85 per cent of the province’s cropland and 92 per cent of hay and pasture land in Saskatchewan is short or very short on moisture, according to weekly crop report released by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture on July 27. Jon Driedger of LeftField Commodity Research joined RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney to discuss the crop report and what it means for yield expectations. “Certainly with a sharp drop like…

22

Canada moves forward on giving gene-editing the conventional plant breeding stamp of approval

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau today announced how Canada will handle crop cultivars that contain gene-editing as part of the breeding process. Bibeau says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has officially published updated guidance for Part V(5) of the Seed Regulations to make it clear which plants — whether developed via conventional breeding or through new plant breeding innovation methods — require assessment from the CFIA before being released into the environment. Last May, Health Canada released guidelines regarding the approval of plants with non-novel traits, prompting the organic sector to ask for more clarification on how gene-edited varieties would be kept separate from genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The announcement means that varieties or cultivars developed with…

21

Senior leadership out at Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

There’s been a major change in the senior leadership team for the Alberta Wheat Commission and the Alberta Barley Commission. The commissions, which are in the process of merging, are not publicly naming which individuals are involved, but RealAgriculture has confirmed that long-time general manager Tom Steve and chief operating officer Syeda Khurram are among those no longer with the commissions. The changes were effective April 26, 2023…

20

Senate rejects amendment to Bill C-234 in pivotal vote on farm carbon tax exemption

The majority of senators rejected an amended version of Bill C-234 in a pivotal vote on Tuesday, clearing the path for the proposed on-farm carbon tax exemption to move ahead for third reading and one step closer to Royal Assent. The private member’s bill, which was introduced by Ontario MP Ben Lobb in February 2022 and approved by the House of Commons in March of this year, would remove the federal carbon levy from natural gas and propane used on farms for activities such as drying grain and heating barns and greenhouses. Senators aligned with the Liberal government pushed an amendment through at the Senate’s agriculture and forestry committee last month, removing farm buildings from the proposed carbon price exemption…

19

Equivalent of fertilizer tariff funds added to OFCAF in federal budget; government commits $333 million to dairy innovation fund

In its brand new budget, the federal government has set out $43 billion in new spending over six years and a predicted $40 billion deficit for the 2023-24 fiscal year (up from $30 billion projected last fall). There are several spending programs aimed at Canadians as a whole, including more money for children’s dental health and a “grocery rebate,” the new name for another GST-rebate bump. Grain farmers in Ontario and Quebec have been waiting to hear how the government planned to return the approximately $34 million collected in tariffs paid on Russian-sourced fertilizer, and it appears that answer is in the budget, as hinted at by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada minister Marie-Claude Bibeau earlier this month. Proposed in the…

18

Three things to watch in commodity markets in 2023

Now is an interesting time to be making decisions on old crop marketing or pulling the trigger on new crop pricing. Some farmers are well set for new crop, but market analyst Jonathon Driedger of Leftfield Commodity Research says there are three key factors that bear watching early in the new year. Looking very big picture, it’s easy to find loud voices on either side of the inflation/deflation debate, Driedger says, and whose outlook is correct will bear out in the coming months. “I don’t know if I can ever remember a time when you have had such starkly different opinions on inflation versus deflation going forward. Some of these inflationary factors are so well entrenched that, you know, inflation…

17

Combyne Ag (formerly FarmLead) acquired by Bayer

Grain marketing app company Combyne Ag has been acquired by Bayer Crop Science, joining Bayer’s suite of digital tools for farmers. Combyne, which was known as FarmLead until 2020, will continue to operate at arms-length to Bayer’s broader business, while benefiting from added resources and association with a partner with a shared vision, says CEO Alain Goubau, in an email sent to users on January 18. The company has largely evolved from an online grain marketplace to focusing on providing tools for tracking grain marketing and inventory, including digitization of grain marketing documents. Bayer says the investment in Combyne is part of an effort “to invest in farmer centric solutions that lead to the best outcomes while reducing complexity and…

16

Plans for 6 million tonnes of new canola crush on their way to becoming reality

It’s been nearly two years since the first in a series of five separate announcements were made regarding plans to build or expand canola crush facilities in Saskatchewan, largely in response to low-carbon fuel policies driving demand for canola oil. Announcements are one thing, but actual construction is another. While Ceres Global Ag has since suspended its plan for a new canola crush plant at Northgate, Cargill, Federated Co-op/AGT, Richardson, and Viterra are all moving ahead with construction. Altogether, the four projects are projected to boost crush capacity in Western Canada by at least six million tonnes per year — a 50 per cent increase. “Some of those announcements are starting to become shovels…

15

Prime Minister Trudeau takes questions at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s annual general meeting

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s annual general meeting in Ottawa on Monday, delivering a 10 minute speech before taking questions from the audience for approximately half an hour. Trudeau was asked about a wide range of topics, including helping farmers cope with the increased production costs, grassland preservation, the fertilizer emissions reduction target, recognizing how innovative Canadian farmers are, public perception of agriculture, and how the CFIA has handled the potato wart disease in Prince Edward Island. The government has said it plans to announce a program to compensate Eastern Canadian farmers for tariffs paid on fertilizer from Russia, but Trudeau did not announce any new initiatives in his speech. He was accompanied and introduced…

14

Ag Minister MacAulay drives combine on Saskatchewan farm

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay took the opportunity to drive a combine while visiting a Saskatchewan grain farm between Regina and Saskatoon this week. MacAulay and some of his staff dropped in at Stone Farms near Davidson, Sask., for about an hour and half on Tuesday. “I’ve been inviting the minister of the portfolio to come and see what we’re all about. I’ve been working on that for a while…and we got the visit,” says Rob Stone, recapping MacAulay’s visit in the interview below. “We had a great chat about lots of stuff.” Stone, who also serves as a director for Sask Wheat, says they set up several stations on the farm to showcase the technology and practices that are used…

13

Bayer considering spinning off crop science business

Bayer’s new CEO says the company’s management is evaluating whether to spin off its crop science division as part of a company-wide restructuring process. A German news outlet reported in July that Bill Anderson was considering divesting the company’s agriculture business — one of Bayer’s three divisions, along with Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Consumer Health — on the stock market. In a Nov. 8 earnings call with investors, Anderson confirmed a spinoff of Bayer Crop Science is one of several structural changes that are under consideration. “Beyond maintaining three divisions, the main options would be a separation of either consumer health or crop science, and both of those remain under evaluation,” he said. “We continue to assess them seriously and…

12

Corn School: The consequences of uneven corn

Research has repeatedly shown corn’s yield potential starts declining if plants don’t emerge within a tight timeframe, but dry conditions following planting can wreak havoc on best-laid plans for uniform emergence. If one in six corn plants is two leaf stages behind the rest, expect a four per cent yield reduction, says Morgan Cott, agronomy extension specialist with the Manitoba Crop Alliance, in this Corn School video. If there’s a four leaf stage difference, the yield impact doubles to an eight per cent reduction, she notes, citing research done several years ago in Ontario. “We’re definitely still seeing it. Some corn seeds have germinated with the last rain a couple of weeks ago, and some is looking to start tasseling…

11

The big canola bear and the small wheat cub: a very grizzly crop price outlook

What on earth is happening right now with canola and spring wheat prices? Call it a 2021 hangover or the cruelest of come-downs, but many farmers are watching crop prices with just a pinch of melancholy as the bears seem to be making themselves at home again in the canola and spring wheat markets. To unpack this pic-a-nic basket of bad news (see what we did there?), Shaun Haney is joined by Brian Voth of IntelliFARM Inc. Looking at ’21 prices, those sky-high values did what they needed to, which was rationing demand because there just wasn’t enough out there to go around. The trouble is, Voth notes, is that demand goes elsewhere and it doesn’t always come back —…

10

Sparks fly at Wool Growers’ AGM

The Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers (CCWG or Wool Growers) held its 105th annual general meeting October 14, 2023 near Carleton Place, Ont. The meeting was tense, given the months-long uncertainty after long-time general manager Eric Bjergso was placed on paid leave in March 2023, following what the Wool Growers’ board calls “undisclosed liabilities” and “corporate processes” not approved by the board of directors. It took over an hour in to the meeting before acting general manager, Morgan Moore, disclosed that Bjergso had also filed a statement of claim for nearly $2.5 million, naming Moore, current chair Allan Ribbink, and the Wool Growers in the lawsuit. There are three components to the suit — including defamation of character and wrongful dismissal….

9

Soybean School: 15? versus 30? rows — the great debate

Should growers plant soybeans in narrower 15-inch rows or should they go wide and plant at 30 inches? Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soybean specialist Horst Bohner has been listening to the debate for years, and rather than taking sides, he likes to focus on the fact that growers can choose an option that’s best for their farm. On this episode the RealAgriculture Soybean School, Bohner notes that Ontario row-width research conducted over the years does show narrow rows typically out-yield wide rows by about four bushels per acre. But research also indicates that the yield gap closes when growers “do things right” when managing 30-inch rows. That includes feeding the crop, choosing the right variety, planting…

8

Kubota LX20 compact tractors coming to Canada

Kubota plans to bring its new LX20 Series tractors, featuring 35- and 40-hp engines, to Canadian dealer lots in December. The company showed off the compact tractors at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show at Woodstock, Ont., last month. Kubota compact utility tractor product manager Chris Isaac says a key feature that catches farmers’s attention is the redesigned transmission, which significantly reduces hydrostatic (HST) noise for the operator. The transmission also delivers an auto throttle that makes the tractor easier to drive. The LX20 Series comes with a dual engine memory switch, allowing the operator to preset their preferred RPMs and have the engine match that speed at the push of a button. There’s also an updated loader to match the power…

7

Turkish manufacturer Basak Traktör reaches deal to buy 97% of Versatile parent Buhler Industries

The parent company of Basak Traktör — an agricultural manufacturer based in Turkey — has reached a deal to acquire 97 per cent of the shares in Manitoba-based Buhler Industries from Russia’s largest agricultural manufacturer, Rostselmash. Buhler, which employs around 800 people building Versatile tractors and Farm King equipment, has been majority-owned by Rostselmash since 2007. The terms of the agreement would see Basak Traktör’s parent — ASKO Holding — pay C$60.5 million for the company, including all the outstanding debt owed to Rostselmash. “We are very excited to partner with ASKO Holding. We believe that ASKO Holding’s deep understanding and involvement in the agricultural equipment industry, will assist the company in achieving its immense potential for future growth and…

6

Case IH Steiger Quadtrac delivers huge power with 715 HP engine

A new Steiger tractor with more power and speed leads the 2024 Case IH lineup as the machinery manufacturer looks to deliver more purposeful design, technology, and performance. This week at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, farmers will get their first look at the most powerful tractor Case IH has ever produced — the Steiger 715 Quadtrac. With a 715 horsepower-rated, 778 peak horsepower engine, the tractor delivers built-in power and speed to cover more ground in less time, but it’s also nimble enough for any challenge, says Tom Curley, Case IH global product manager for Steiger. “The Steiger 715 Quadtrac is not just our most powerful tractor to date – it delivers power with purpose. It puts…

5

New Holland unveils the CR11 combine at Agritechnica ’23

The brand-new CR11 New Holland combine made its debut this week at Agritechnica in Hannover, Germany. RealAgriculture’s Bern Tobin was there to speak with Lars Sorensen, global product manager for New Holland combines, and captures all the details in the video below. Sorensen says this combine is a complete redesign of the machine, where the goal of productivity and driving down costs meant re-thinking so many components and aspects of the machine. The CR11 features a 775-horsepower C16 engine, with 2×24-inch rotors, a 567-bushel (20,000 litre) grain tank and a six bushels (210 litres) per second unload rate. Sorensen says that this combine is the answer for producers looking for more capacity, lower grains loss, and a high quality sample…

4

No, WD-40 won’t be banned in Canada

New regulations aimed at reducing gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in household and commercial products have resulted in some confusion about the future availability of WD-40 in Canada. The company that makes the popular penetrating oil spray issued a statement late last week clarifying that WD-40 will still be available in Canadian stores after the new regulations take effect on January 1, 2024. “It has recently come to our attention that false information is circulating online that WD-40 Brand products are being banned in Canada. This is not a true statement. Although there are currently regulatory changes taking place in Canada, we have been aware of these regulatory changes and have been preparing for them for some time,”…

3

Plans announced to build new Big Bud tractors

Big Equipment Co., based at Havre, Montana, has announced plans to bring back its well-known Big Bud tractors. Working in partnership with Rome Agricultural and Construction Equipment in Cedartown, Georgia, the company is planning to release the new HD Big Bud in March at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG International Construction Trade show at Las Vegas. Around 500 Big Bud tractors, known for having the highest horsepower on the market, were originally built in Montana from the late ’60s until the early ’90s. In an announcement shared January 16, Big Equipment says the new 640 Big Bud will feature the following: all Caterpillar drive components; 1.5″ thick frame with an approximate weight of 70,000 Ibs; CAT C18 Engine with a horsepower range between…

2

Creditors ask court to appoint receiver for Merit Functional Foods

Update: Merit Functional Foods was placed in receivership on March 1. Read more here. Creditors for Merit Functional Foods are asking the Court of King’s Bench in Manitoba to appoint a receiver for the plant protein processing company. Export Development Canada and Farm Credit Canada have filed an application for the appointment of a receiver, according to a notice distributed by Burcon NutraScience Corporation, which owns a 31.6 per cent share of Merit. The court hearing is scheduled to take place on March 1. Merit was founded in 2019 as a joint venture between Burcon, which owns a patented protein extraction technology, and several food industry veterans. Construction on a 94-thousand square foot plant on the west side of Winnipeg…

1

Research for the real world: why a Manitoba farmer opened up his 6,000-acre farm and turned it into an industry testing ground

New technologies may work in the lab or in a research setting, but can they provide value in the real-world on a modern, large-scale commercial farm? That’s the basic premise behind a unique arrangement that has come to be known as “Innovation Farms,” just northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Grosse Isle-area farmer and long-time seed grower Rick Rutherford has opened up Rutherford Farms to industry, government, and academic partners, turning his six thousand acre grain farm northwest of Winnipeg into a massive testing ground for companies looking to prove and commercialize their new products and technologies in a real-world environment. Partners that are conducting or contributing to research on the farm include Farm Credit Canada’s AgExpert software group, John Deere, equipment…

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