AIC Notes    Top Issue 2011-24       July 7, 2011 
In This Issue
Edmonton Pilot Plant to Test Ag Fibre Extract
Pilot Projects Seek to Help Farmers
National Cattle Record-Keeping System Phase-In Begins
First Female Ag Minister Won't Seek Re-Election
Canadian Organic Sector Celebrates Trade Deal with Europe
Climate Change Forces Early Spring
Fuel from Straw: The Hunt for an Elusive Recipe
Canada, U.S. Downplay Significance of GM Food Labelling Agreement
UN Calls for Greener Food Production to Feed World
Lignin in Trees and Corn Stover Key to Cellulosic Ethanol
Assessing Agroforestry's Advantages
New CFIA Chiefs Named
Coming Events

Edmonton Pilot Plant to Test Ag Fibre Extract


Researchers in Edmonton plan to study the cellulose from flax, hemp and other crop fibres and wood pulp for the use of its extracts in a "super-strong" manufacturing material.


The federal and Alberta governments on Tuesday announced they will underwrite a $5.5 million pilot facility where researchers will process up to 100 kg per week of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) for testing in commercial applications.


NCC, or cellulose in a crystalline form, can be extracted from plant material and processed into solid, liquid and gel forms. The NCC form retains features such as high strength, electromagnetic response and, at a "nano" scale, very large surface area, making it useful in nanotechnology applications, the governments said.


An ounce of NCC added to a pound of plastic can make a composite material up to 3,000 times stronger than the original plastic alone, the governments said, noting possible uses such as composite materials, high-strength fibres and textiles, pharmaceuticals, medical and dental applications, food and cosmetic additives or "enhanced" papers, packaging and building materials.


"With numerous sectors in Alberta that could benefit from NCC applications, this initiative will help increase our competitiveness and create jobs in our communities," Edmonton-area MP Mike Lake said in a release from the federal/provincial Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA).


The project's backers will include Alberta's ministry of advanced education and technology, putting up $2 million; Western Economic Diversification Canada, with $2.5 million; the "Alberta Innovates: Technology Futures" programming framework for commercializing technology, with $850,000; and industry backers such as pulp miller Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries (Al-Pac), with $200,000.


Country Guide, July 6, 2011


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Pilot Projects Seek to Help Farmers


Two pilot projects have been announced that are both working to improve markets and add value to Canadian agriculture.


The Canadian Simmental Association is receiving $1.7 million to operate a three-year project that will use DNA and other genetic data to help cattle breeders identify, select and breed cattle that have higher fertility and mothering ability, growth and feed efficiency and produce a more desirable beef product.


Meanwhile, in Prince Edward Island, environment officials are operating a pilot project to test the effectiveness of ocean nuisance on agriculture crops. Sea lettuce will be harvested from estuaries and compost for use on farmlands.


"The amount of sea lettuce growing in estuaries harms the fishery, tourism, recreational activities and the aesthetic value of our water and our land," says Richard Brown, P.E.I.'s minister of environment, energy and forestry.


If composting of the sea lettuce is successful, it could be used as a nutrient source for the agriculture industry.


"I am very intrigued about the possibility of using sea lettuce as a nutrient for crop production," says Agriculture Minister George Webster. "This will be a very worthwhile pilot project which could result in long-term benefits for the agriculture industry."


A local company has brought in harvesting equipment and an experienced operator from Florida. The operator will provide training to run the equipment and share his expertise harvesting the product. The sea lettuce will be spread on farm fields to explore its value as compost.


The provincial government is partnering with Prince Edward Island Watershed Alliance and the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association to run the pilot project. Funding of $75,000 will be provided to run the three-week pilot project. The trial will examine the effectiveness of removing sea lettuce from estuaries and it will also explore the potential of value-added opportunities that may exist with harvested sea lettuce.


For the Canadian Simmental Association, the results of pilot project on the genetic testing in the cattle industry will be shared through various beef sector groups including the Canadian Beef Breeds Council.

Rick McIntyre, president of the Canadian Simmental Association says the pilot project will let the association continue to work with partners "to ensure Canada's seedstock sector is at the forefront of genetic research and global competitiveness."


The investment is from Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program, a program with the objective of facilitating the agriculture industry's ability to seize opportunities, respond to new and emerging issues and test solutions to new and ongoing issues.


Allison Finnamore, FCC Express, June 30, 2011




National Cattle Record-Keeping System Phase-In Begins


The launch has begun for the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS), a voluntary Canada-wide data recording system for cattle producers.


The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA), which oversees BIXS, said Thursday in a release that a "limited number" of cow-calf producers are to receive invitations to register, log on and submit their individual animals' data to the system.


BIXS' launch will be staged to allow its developers to "test system functionality in real time," thus allowing them to work out any system kinks before a "large-scale roll-out" this fall.


"It's important for us to take small steps out of the gate so we don't have issues impacting potentially hundreds or thousands of BIXS users," Larry Thomas, BIXS' national co-ordinator, said in the release.


"While we anticipate some hiccups, we also have the ability to move pretty quickly through the launch phases if things go well. Our goal remains to have the system rolled out to cow-calf producers across Canada by the fall calf run."


BIXS is expected to help its participating cow-calf operators store and retrieve individual animal data such as vaccination date and product used, or castration and dehorn date. BIXS may also be used to validate animal birthdates against Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) records.


In time, the CCA said, historical carcass data on a herd basis could be displayed in near real-time either before or during sales at auction markets. 


The CCA said it's also developing tools within BIXS tailored to auction markets' use, and has tentative plans to allow markets to provide "strategic messaging" on pending sales and events to producers who have specific animals and protocols, or are in "specified geographical areas."


A feedlot interface with BIXS is also in development, the CCA said. The association said it also plans to keep working with Canadian beef slaughter plants to set up carcass tracking and computer vision grading systems.


Country Guide, July 6, 2011


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First Female Ag Minister Won't Seek Re-Election


Manitoba's deputy premier and finance minister Rosann Wowchuk, the first woman anywhere in Canada to be named as a minister of agriculture, has announced she won't seek re-election this fall.


Wowchuk, who represents the northwestern riding of Swan River, told media as recently as February that she planned to run again in the Oct. 4 provincial election, but "personal issues have arisen that have caused me to reconsider that decision," she said in a release Monday.


Wowchuk, who before entering cabinet farmed with her husband Sylvester at Cowan, about 125 km north of Dauphin, started her political career as deputy reeve for what's now the Rural Municipality of Mountain.


The sister of former provincial NDP cabinet ministers Harry and Len Harapiak, Wowchuk entered provincial politics in 1990 as the MLA for Swan River and was returned in all four subsequent elections.

Then-premier Gary Doer named Wowchuk as his agriculture minister in 1999 and to the additional role of deputy premier in 2003. She also served as minister for intergovernmental affairs and for co-operative development during her tenure in the ag portfolio.


During that time, she represented the province in the development of the federal/provincial Agricultural Policy Framework in 2003 and its successor funding framework, Growing Forward, in 2008, providing risk management programming and other funding for each province's farmers.


Wowchuk's tenure as ag minister also coincided with the discovery of Canada's first case of BSE in an Alberta cow in 2003 -- and the subsequent closure of several international markets, including the U.S., to Canadian beef and cattle.


Manitoba, with a dearth of beef slaughter space at that time, was particularly hard-pressed to find markets or processing space for its cattle during the BSE crisis.


Wowchuk responded by establishing the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council in 2006, funded in part by what's now a refundable levy on cattle sales, to help finance development of beef slaughter capacity in the province.


Her tenure in the ag file also coincided with the province imposing an indefinite moratorium on development of the hog sector in the main livestock production corridor in the province's southeast as well as the Interlake and Red River Valley.


The provincial government, citing protection of Lake Winnipeg in its decision, drew substantial political fire from Manitoba's hog producers before it passed the related legislation in mid-2008.




Premier Greg Selinger shuffled Wowchuk from the ag portfolio to the finance ministry in 2009, making her the first woman to hold the post of finance minister in Manitoba history.


"Her grassroots and no-nonsense approach coupled with her experience and energy made her a formidable minister, not only in this province but across Canada," Selinger said in Monday's release.

"Her experience has proved successful and can already be seen in the development and growth both in urban and rural communities," he said. "She has been an advocate for every Manitoban in this province."


Wowchuk didn't provide any specifics on what "personal issues" drove her decision, but said in the release she plans on spending time with her family and continuing her activism and advocacy in her community.


Manitoba Co-operator, July 4, 2011


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Canadian Organic Sector Celebrates Trade Deal with Europe


Canada and the European Union have reached an historic agreement to recognize each other's organic standards and laws, after nearly four years of formal negotiation.


This is the world's second such agreement. In June 2009, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture signed the very first "organic equivalency arrangement," which opened the significant U.S. organic market to Canadian exports.


The global organic trade is now estimated at over $55 billion per year, with 96% of this represented by the U.S. and EU markets. Canada is now the only country in the world able to deal directly with these two key markets through its domestic standards.


"This is an absolute game-changer for Canadian farmers and food manufacturers," said Matthew Holmes, Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade Association, and an organic sector advisor to the Government of Canada on international trade and market access. "With full access to European markets, suppliers, and ingredients, Canada's organic sector now has a strategic edge. This agreement will increase trade and boost Canada's organic sector, from the farm to the consumer."


COTA calculates the Canadian organic market has grown from $2 billion in 2008 to over $2.6 billion in 2010.  Canadian companies annually export over $390 million worth of organic commodities, ingredients and products to the U.S., EU and other parts of the world. Since 2008, COTA has coordinated a Long-Term International Strategy for the organic sector, with roughly $500,000 in cumulative matching funds contributed through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriMarketing Program to support Canadian companies branding and marketing their organic products around the world.


"This recognition of Canada's organic standards by both the EU and U.S. shows that Canada's organic standards are among the best in the world," said Holmes. "This agreement also means consumers at home will know that strong organic standards have been followed in order to enter our country, while eliminating the burdensome costs of multiple organic certifications now carried by farmers, processors and traders."


In 2009, Canada implemented the Organic Products Regulations, which make Canada's organic standards mandatory for domestic and imported products. Under the OPR, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency oversees and enforces the organic certification system as well as organic claims in the marketplace. The new "Canada Organic" logo allows consumers to identify products that meet Canada's new organic requirements.


Canada Organic Trade Association Press Release, July 5, 2011


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Climate Change Forces Early Spring


Spring is hailed as the season of rebirth, but if it comes too early, it can threaten the plants it is meant to welcome.


A University of Alberta study shows that climate change over the past 70 years has pushed some of the province's native wildflowers and trees into earlier blooming times, making them more vulnerable to damaging frosts, and ultimately, threatening reproduction.


U of A PhD candidate Elisabeth Beaubien and her supervisor, professor Andreas Hamann of the Department of Renewable Resources, studied the life cycle of central Alberta spring blooms, spanning 1936 to 2006, evaluating climate trends and the corresponding changes in bloom times for seven plant species.


Using thermal time models, the researchers found that the bloom dates for early spring species such as prairie crocuses and aspen trees had advanced by two weeks over the stretch of seven decades, with later-blooming species such as saskatoon and chokecherry bushes being pushed ahead by up to six days.

The average winter monthly temperature increased considerably over 70 years, with the greatest change noted in February, which warmed by 5.3 degrees Celsius.


The study, funded by grants from NSERC and Alberta Ingenuity, appears in the July issue of Bioscience.

A second related study, published in the International Journal of Biometeorology, describes the development of the Alberta and Canada PlantWatch programs, which coordinate networks of citizen scientists who track spring development timing for common plants.


In gathering their data, Beaubien and Hamann built on a network of information about phenology-the study of the timing of life cycle events-that was started in 1936 by the federal agriculture department and has since been supplemented by the collaborative efforts of university biologists, government researchers and more than 650 volunteers from the general public.


University of Alberta Press Release, July 6, 2011 


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Fuel from Straw: The Hunt for an Elusive Recipe


For years, workers at Iogen Energy Corp. have sought to perfect the 21st-century alchemy of cellulosic ethanol - the art of turning agriculture waste into motor fuel.


In 2007, the Ottawa-based company, which was touting plans to build cellulosic ethanol plants in Canada, the United States and Germany, was singled out in the federal budget as a prime candidate for the $500-million "next generation biofuels" fund established to help the fledgling industry build commercial plants.


But then Iogen and its joint venture partner, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, decided there were just too many risks to commit to such a major investment. Iogen put the brakes on its application for the federal funding even as several competitors plan to proceed.


Since then, the company has boosted its research effort - looking for the right cocktail of enzymes that will most efficiently break down straw into the sugars needed to produce ethanol. It is also working to perfect its logistics as workers process 20 tonnes a day of straw bales - complete with rocks, field mice and baler twine.


But Iogen, which brought in a new chief executive officer to attack the nagging problems and bring down costs, continues to struggle with commercial realities. The company's problems highlight the uphill battle faced by many renewable energy companies. Indeed, the landscape is full of technology companies that promise dramatic breakthroughs but have trouble delivering real-world results.


Obtaining ethanol from straw through the use of enzymes is considered a key technology in the hunt for a sustainable and growing source of renewable transportation fuel that would avoid the controversial competition for use of food crops like corn and wheat.


But producers of cellulosic ethanol are taking much longer to achieve commercial success than had been anticipated only five years ago. In the U.S., the federal government has had to dramatically ratchet back its mandate for cellulosic ethanol, and recently slashed its 2012 goal from 500 million gallons to just 13 million.


"I think it is the wise thing to do - not to rush after the Canadian government money and [to] delay building the thing until we're really sure we have everything sorted out," Iogen Energy CEO Duncan Macleod said in an interview.


"I don't think we'd win any friends if we rushed in and spent hundreds of millions on a big plant and then discovered it didn't work."


Still, governments around the world are pinning huge hopes on advanced biofuels.


To combat climate change, the International Energy Agency recently set a target that would see renewable fuels supply 27 per cent of the world's transportation need by 2050, up from 2 per cent currently. The U.S. remains committed to its own long-term target of 36 billion gallons per year of ethanol by 2022, with half of that volume coming from cellulosic variety.


Despite its long-term goal, the Paris-based IEA is skeptical about the near-term potential for advanced biofuels, saying the outlook for commercialization "remains highly uncertain, notably regarding financing and production economics."


The IEA - which advises rich countries on energy policy - said the industry can expect delays and cancellations to projects that are currently in the planning stage, and that it will be at least 10 years before cellulosic ethanol is widely available as a fuel source.


But the economics of cellulosic ethanol are improving rapidly, said Justin Rose, a principal at the Boston Consulting Group in Chicago, and co-author of a recent report on the future of alternative energy.

The cost of enzymes is falling and their efficiency is climbing as global companies pour resources into research and development, Mr. Rose said. At the same time, he expects the agricultural industry to produce better-quality feedstock for the advanced biofuels sector as demand grows.


He said cellulosic ethanol should soon be competitive with gasoline at $2.50 to $4.00 (U.S.) per gallon, well within the range of today's pump prices. And within 10 years, he expects advanced biofuels to have a significant share of the fuel market, especially in North America, where demand for transportation fuel is expected to grow slowly, if at all.


While the sector faces continuing challenges, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) - the federal funding body - has more than a half dozen project proposals seeking financing of new plants, and expects to announce funding decisions in the coming months.


In contrast to the IEA's glum assessment, the SDTC president Vicky Sharpe said the industry will be producing "significant amounts of next-generation biofuels way before the 10-year time horizon."


While SDTC won't name its applicants, several have come forward on their own. They include Montreal-based Enerkem Inc. - which has two heavily-subsidized, commercial-scale plants going into production in the U.S. and Canada - and Los Angeles-based Rentech Inc., which plans to make jet fuel from forestry waste in Ontario.


Meanwhile, Iogen continues to pursue the dream. With $30-million in early federal funding, Iogen and Shell have invested a total of $300-million in the Ottawa plant, which now has an operating budget of $50-million a year. There are now 300 employees at the facility, up from only 100 just a few years ago.

The company remains confident that with the help of the SDTC it will be ready to build a new plant within two years.


Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, July 4, 2011


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Canada, U.S. Downplay Significance of GM Food Labelling Agreement


The first international guidance document on labelling genetically modified foods - approved by consensus Tuesday by a body composed of the world's food safety regulators - prompted bickering Wednesday over whether it represents a boost for countries wanting to bring in mandatory GM food labelling.


The international summit involving more than 100 countries, including Canada, produced the consensus guide on GM labelling in Geneva after two decades of political wrangling among countries that pitted the United States and Canada against Europe and many developing countries.


But the significance of the new Codex commission text emerged as a hugely divisive issue a day later, when consumer groups heralded the document as a consumer-rights milestone while longtime biotechnology proponents said it was no big deal. The world's largest biotechnology organization even suggested the text could make some nations and international bodies, such as the European Union, more vulnerable to a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge.


Under WTO rules, national measures based on Codex guidance or official texts are protected if they are challenged as a barrier to trade.


Citing an explicit mention of "guidance" for labelling and "different approaches" regarding the labelling of GM foods in the purpose and considerations section, consumer groups are hailing the new document as a major breakthrough, especially for developing countries - many of them keen to move on mandatory labelling but fearful of trade challenges until now.


The European Union already has in place traceability and compulsory labelling rules for GM foods, and European countries were vulnerable to trade challenges from the United States or Canada.


"It's clear that Codex has agreed that GE foods can be labelled. That's totally new. This is a major victory," said Phil Bereano, an activist and professor emeritus at the University of Washington who has attended Codex sessions for the past decade.


"The WTO shield is completely new. That's why the industry and the U.S. fought against such a guidance document for 18 years."


Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, added that while any Codex guidance is voluntary, this development puts pressure on countries like Canada and the United States, where companies are seeking approval to sell genetically modified pigs and salmon for human consumption.

The public debate over labelling GM salmon is particularly lively in the U.S., and she said North America risks becoming even more isolated if more and more consumers elsewhere get transparent information about the presence of GM foods or ingredients.


Amid the bickering over the new Codex guidance, clarity emerged for Canadian consumers. Health Canada, a longtime opponent of mandatory labelling for GM foods, said the voluntary guidance doesn't change the department's position.


And an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture told Postmedia News that there is nothing in this compilation document that shields countries that bring in mandatory GM labelling from a WTO challenge.


"This is a document of pre-existing language that has already been approved. Nothing new is in the document with regard to the pre-approved language, and all that language is being gathered and filed in one document," the official said.


Karen Batra, director of food and agriculture communications at Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), added: "Nothing changes as far as the guideline. It still does not mandate labelling. It encourages companies and countries to be consistent with the Codex guideline, which simply says biotech foods don't need to labelled any more than conventional foods need to be labelled."


Tom Heilandt, a senior food standards officer at the Codex secretariat, said he can't speak for the WTO, but said the debate about the collection of existing Codex texts relevant to the labelling of biotech foods was focused on a few key points.


"The main points of dispute in the discussion were in the purpose and considerations and on whether Codex should adopt any guidance at all. It was a big step forward for Codex to find a consensus on this issue," said Heilandt, heralding the facilitation work of a Canadian committee chairman.


In Canada, there is no produce on the market that is genetically modified, but GM corn, canola, soy and sugar beets grown in Canada end up in products like cornflakes, corn chips, sweeteners, eggs, milk, meat, canola oil, tofu and sugar. Genetically modified cottonseed oil, papaya and squash imported from the United States can also end up on store shelves in Canada in the form of vegetable oil in products and fruit juices.


Since there are no mandatory labelling rules, there are no statistics on the percentage of processed foods containing GM ingredients, but groups estimate that about 70 per cent of processed foods on grocery store shelves in North America contain GM ingredients.


Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News, July 6, 2011


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UN Calls for Greener Food Production to Feed World 


World food production will have to increase by up to 100 percent by 2050 and focus on greener methods to sustain an expected 9 billion population, the U.N. said Tuesday in its annual survey of economic and social trends.


The U.N.'s annual World Economic and Social Survey called for governments to invest nearly $2 trillion (about 1.3 trillion euros) a year to help small-scale farming and to reduce environmental harm.


Only a fraction of the small investment goal has been reached so far through allocations from $20 billion in climate change funds managed by the World Bank aimed at helping developing countries boost clean energy technology, sustainable farming and other initiatives, the survey said.


The survey said the 2007-2008 food crisis and higher food prices "revealed deep structural problems in the global food system" that produce high carbon emissions and lead to a warmer climate, as well as more polluted land and water.


It also said 925 million people - more than one of every seven in the world - are undernourished and nearly all live in developing countries. Two-thirds are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.


Associated Press, July 5, 2011


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Lignin in Trees and Corn Stover Key to Cellulosic Ethanol


Research into the lignin in plant cells is determining a lot about the specific plants that can be used for cellulosic ethanol production in the future. Research with poplar trees shows lignin blocks extracting the sugars, but the research also is making progress for solutions in identifying specific poplar strains/varieties that more easily release sugars.


All of this research could be used to some extent with corn hybrids as corn stover becomes a cellulosic ethanol feedstock in the future. 


The Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center has already, though major cooperative efforts of several research teams, narrowed down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identified winners for future use in biofuel production.


The research was published as "Lignin content in natural Populus variants affects sugar release," in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Lignin serves as a major roadblock for biofuel production because it forms strong bonds with sugars and interferes with access to these carbohydrates, making it difficult to extract the plant's sugars contained in cellulose and hemicellulose.


"The real driver for bioenergy is how to get sugar as cheaply as possible from these recalcitrant materials," said Charles Wyman of the Bourns College of Engineering's Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the University of California, Riverside, "We're looking for clues as to which traits in these poplar materials will lead to better sugar release."


The analysis has revealed a correlation between one plant trait, the S/G ratio, and increased sugar yields. The ratio refers to the two main building blocks of lignin - syringyl and guaiacyl subunits, the research scientists noted in the published report.


The team's research also pinpointed certain poplar samples that produced unusually high sugar yields with no pretreatment. Biofuel production typically requires various pretreatments, such as applying high temperature and pressure to the biomass. Reducing pretreatment would represent a substantial decrease in the price of ethanol produced from lignocellulosic feedstocks.


From this work, "superior poplar cultivars" may soon be available for commercial testing and propagation as part of the nation's move forward to low-cost cellulosic ethanol production


Rich Keller, Editor, AgProfessional,  July 1, 2011


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Assessing Agroforestry's Advantages 


Agroforestry, the deliberate placement of trees into crop and livestock operations, can help capture substantial amounts of carbon on agricultural lands while providing production and conservation benefits. However, we currently lack tools for accurately estimating current and projected carbon values in these systems.


In North America, windbreaks are an effective carbon-capturing option. Only occupying about 2 to 5% of the land, windbreaks also help protect crops and livestock, as well as reduce wind erosion. They provide a means to increase production while reducing greenhouse gases.


James Brandle, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor, explains that unlike forests, the linear design of windbreaks creates a more open environment with different light and climate conditions. As a result, agroforestry trees usually have different characteristics than trees grown under forest conditions. New tools specifically designed for windbreak trees are needed to determine current or future amounts of carbon contained in agroforestry practices.


Researchers at the University of Florida, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska and the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) have developed a model to predict the amount of carbon contained by agroforestry systems. This modeling approach uses detailed web-available data for windbreak, soils and climate.


While this research focused only on green ash windbreak growth in Nebraska, it provides a good basis for determining agroforestry's contributions in farming operations.


This research was supported by the Research Joint Venture Agreement through the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Service, and the McIntyre-Stennis Forestry Research Program at the University of Nebraska. The complete results from this study were published in the May/June 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Society of Agronomy.

American Society of Agronomy (2011, June 30). Assessing agroforestry's advantages: Scientists develop model to assess the impact agroforestry windbreaks have on farming operations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 6, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/06/110630171725.htm  


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New CFIA Chiefs Named 


Retirements and career moves have led to new appointments on the way up two farm- and food-related chains of command in the senior federal public service, including a new president for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.


George Da Pont, currently the CFIA's executive vice-president, was named to the president's post Thursday in an announcement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


The CFIA's president is responsible for delivering the agency's mandate of safeguarding Canada's food supply and the plants and livestock on which those foods rely.


Effective July 11, Da Pont replaces the retiring Carole Swan, who had served in a junior deputy minister's role with Industry Canada before being named to the CFIA post in 2007.


Before joining CFIA as executive vice-president in 2010, Da Pont worked as commissioner, and as acting commissioner, for the Canadian Coast Guard since 2005, and in a number of federal departments starting with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in 1987.


Replacing Da Pont as CFIA's executive vice-president will be Mary Komarynsky, currently an assistant deputy minister with Transport Canada.


Komarynsky's career in the federal civil service has included stints as an assistant deputy minister with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's farm financial programs branch (2004-05) and as AAFC's director general of adaptation and financial guarantee programs (2001-04).


Ag ADM named


Harper on Thursday also announced the appointment of Claude Carriere as associate deputy minister of agriculture and agri-food, replacing Andrea Lyon, also effective July 11.


Both civil servants' career backgrounds have involved foreign policy, as Carriere comes to AAFC having worked since 2008 as foreign and defence policy advisor to the prime minister and as deputy secretary to Cabinet in the Privy Council Office.


His resume before that post includes stints with the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. as deputy head of mission (2004-08) and as a counsellor on trade policy (1990-94).


Lyon, who now moves laterally to become associate deputy minister of the environment, had previously served as chief trade negotiator for North America at the federal department of foreign affairs and international trade (2006-08) and as assistant deputy minister for strategic and program policy at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.


Country Guide, July 4, 2011


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Coming Events


2011 CSBE/SCGAB Annual Conference, Growing Renewable Energy, Winnipeg, July 10-13, 2011 

Plant Canada Conference, Plant Adaptation to Environmental Change, hosted by the Canadian Society of Agronomy and the Canadian Society of Horticultural Science, Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 17-21, 2011

Canadian Society of Soil Science and Soil Science Society of America joint conference, Fundamental for Life: Soil, Crop, & Environmental Sciences, San Antonio, Texas, October 16-20, 2011


Feeding a Hungry World: A Summit for Animal Agriculture, Ottawa, Ontario, October 17-18, 2011 


Catalyst Canada Honours Celebrating Champions of Women in Business, Toronto, Ontario, October 18, 2011


Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, National Hemp Convention, Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 22-23, 2011 


Canadian Organic Science Conference, February 21-23, 2012, Winnipeg, Manitoba 




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Frances Rodenburg, Editor