AIC Notes Top         Issue 2012-13        March 29, 2012 
In This Issue
Hiking Agriculture Research Key to Food Security
Report Confirms Agriculture's Contribution to Jobs and the Economy
FCC Names Five Outstanding Canadian Female Leaders in Agriculture
New Federal Seed Rules Regulate 'Refuge in a Bag'
Organic Crop Shortages Predicted
Hog Sector Changes Announced in Manitoba
Basics Agreed to for NSAC Merger into Dalhousie
CFIA Seeks Input on Health of Animals Act
Mustard - Not Just For Hotdogs Anymore, Research Shows
Application Deadline Nears for Guelph's Ag MBA
'Insurance' Rather Than IPM the Norm
Food Demand Spiking Crop Chemical Use?
World Scientists Define United Approach to Tackling Food Insecurity
Women from Monsanto Canada Running to Help Empower Girls and Women in the Developing World
Invitation to Participate in CFPF Fertilizer Regulatory Modernization Working Groups
Career Openings
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
Coming Events

Hiking Agriculture Research Key to Food Security


by John Kennelly and Alastair Cribb 


Kennelly is dean of the faculty of agricultural, life and environmental sciences at the University of Alberta. Cribb is dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary. They submitted this viewpoint to the StarPhoenix on behalf of Canada's 13 deans of agriculture and veterinary medicine.


Producing more food with the same or fewer resources has been one of humankind's most remarkable accomplishments.


From 1950 to 1990, yield improvements in global food production enabled farmers to feed a population that doubled to 5.3 billion people, with food prices declining by one per cent per year during that time.


But since 1990, the rate of yield improvements has slowed in most countries including Canada.


This pervasive slowdown is reflected in record high food prices and elevated concerns about food security. If we don't reverse that trend, we're in trouble.


World food demand is expected to double again in the next 40 years. And with climate change, new crop varieties are needed that can adapt to changing weather patterns and resist invasive plants, insects and disease. Rising incomes also increase demand for livestock products and for non-food bio-products such as biofuels, biofibres, biopharmaceuticals and bioplastics.


Meeting these needs without destroying the Earth's resource base depends on growth in agricultural productivity and efficiency.


To help meet these challenges, Canada must invest more in agricultural and food research - the principal source of new technologies, environmental efficiencies, agricultural yield growth and nutritionally superior foods, such as those enriched with Omega 3, and gluten-free products.


Studies show that investments in agricultural and food research have high internal rates of return and create benefits that generally exceed costs by 10 to one or more. Despite such evidence, agricultural and food research investment in Canada continues to languish.


Such investment can come from three sources: The public, through taxes; producers, through commodity levies or "checkoffs"; and the private sector, through product sales levies. What's needed is a holistic approach that encompasses all three sources. It's been used effectively in Australia, where investment in wheat research is now four times higher than in Canada.


Public funding is ideally suited to research with inadequate producer and private funding, and to situations where the benefits of research go well beyond a specific product made for a marketplace - such as for basic scientific research where discoveries can have broad applications, and research that creates health and environmental benefits.


But while the return on publicly funded research is very high, this type of investment must always compete with other uses of treasury funds.


Private research investment has been a powerful tool to improve yields when research firms can capture the value of their research through intellectual property rights (IPRs), such as has occurred with advances in proprietary poultry and hog genetics research.


In North American hybrid crops (corn, canola, cotton) and biotech crops (soybeans, corn, canola), patent protections have stimulated a great deal of private research by global life science firms.


With IPRs, producers pay upwards of 10 per cent of their expected gross income each year for the latest seed varieties. In turn, companies reinvest about 10 per cent of their seed sale revenue into research.

The result has been a rapid improvement in crop performance and widespread producer adoption of these crops.


But with non-biotech and non-hybrid crops where IPRs are weaker (wheat, barley, oats, lentils, peas, flax etc.), there has been limited private investment, and generally slower gains in yields.


Producer-funded research plays an important role for livestock and some crops.


Levies are collected on farm product sales and then reinvested in research by producer-managed boards.


The levy is equitable because the cost is borne by consumers and producers who most directly benefit from productivity improvement.


The success of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, and the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation research program demonstrates how powerful this producer-funded model can be.


But unfortunately, most Canadian research checkoffs are set at levels far too low to provide adequate industry-driven research funding.


The social imperative to invest in improving the world's food production capacity in a sustainable way is clear.


Now we need greater long-term public funding commitments to plant, animal and food research, a modern investment climate for private firms to benefit from their own research, and enhancements to increase use of the producer-controlled checkoff funding model.


Through increased research investment, Canada can "do well by doing good" - creating economic benefits at home while helping to address pressing global food security challenges.

Star-Phoenix, March 29, 2012


Editor's Note:  To read AIC's March 6th presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry for their report on research and innovation efforts in the agricultural sector, which addresses many of the same themes, please click here.

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Report Confirms Agriculture's Contribution to Jobs and the Economy 


The agriculture and agri-food sector is becoming increasingly modern, innovative, and competitive, and it is becoming a more significant part of Canada's economy. As illustrated in An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System, an economic report released today by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Canada's agriculture industry is turning the corner from facing unprecedented challenges to meeting exciting opportunities.


"We have plenty to be proud of here in Canada when it comes to the sector," said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "If we look back a few years, we see that our farms have become more modern, more productive, and more innovative. We see that the industry has been restructuring and adapting to consumer demands, advancing technology, and other global trends."


  • In 2010, the agriculture and agri-food industry directly provided 1 in 8jobs, employed more than 2 million people, and accounted for more than 8 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The food and beverage processing sector was one of the top manufacturing industries in Canada in 2010.
  • The agriculture and agri-food sector has become increasingly internationally focused over the past 15 years. In 2010, Canada was thefifth-largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products in the   world, with exports valued at more than $35 billion.
  • Canadians still enjoy some of the lowest food costs in the world, with food spending from stores accounting for almost 10 per cent of personal household expenditures in recent years.
  • The increase in total government expenditures in support of the agriculture and agri-food sector was 9.5 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11, from $7.2 billion to $7.9 billion.


"It wasn't that long ago that producers and processors were reeling from BSE, H1N1, reduced market access, and weather-related disasters," continued Minister Ritz. "As farm businesses evolve to meet changing demand or issues, so too must government adapt its approach to support industry's need for increased innovation, market access, and reduction of red tape."


The annual overview report provides basic information about the agriculture and agri-food sector, tracks how the sector has been performing over time, and reflects the challenges and changes that have occurred in recent years. It reviews in detail all segments of the sector, covering not only primary agriculture and input suppliers, but also food and beverage processing, food distribution, consumer trends, and government investment. This year's report also included a special feature on employment trends in Canada's agriculture and agri-food system.


The report is produced by AAFC's Research and Analysis Directorate. A more detailed abstract can be found online at Overview of Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System 2012.


AAFC Press Release, March 26, 2012


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FCC Names Five Outstanding Canadian Female Leaders in Agriculture 


Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 FCC Rosemary Davis Award, which recognizes five outstanding Canadian women for their leadership and commitment to the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry.


The 2012 winners are:

  • Betty Lou Scott - a cattle producer, 4-H leader and volunteer from Mount Thom, Nova Scotia
  • Bonnie Spragg - a hog producer, food processor and rural developer from Rosemary, Alberta
  • Judy Shaw - an agriculture industry leader, communicator and visionary from Guelph, Ontario
  • Katherine Elaine Buckley - a research scientist, green champion and educator from Brandon, Manitoba
  • Martine Bourgeois - an agrologist, egg producer and poultry industry leader from Saint-Ours, Quebec

"Each of our winners is a great role model in the agriculture industry. The variety of their work demonstrates the diverse and important roles women hold in this important industry," says Kellie Garrett, FCC Senior Vice-President, Strategy, Knowledge and Reputation. "These women are making a difference to Canadian agriculture and agri-food - a system that employs one in eight Canadians."


The Rosemary Davis Award was created in 2005 to honour the first female FCC board chair. Rosemary was a successful agribusiness owner and operator for many years. Thirty Rosemary Davis Awards have been presented to outstanding women and leaders in the agricultural industry since 2005. Judging criteria include demonstrated leadership, community involvement, and making a difference in agriculture by displaying passion for the industry and a clear vision for its future. Each winner has recorded impressive achievements and taken the time to share her knowledge with others. Full biographies are available at


FCC Press Release, March 27, 2012


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New Federal Seed Rules Regulate 'Refuge in a Bag' 


Federal regulations on the sale of certified seed have been clarified to allow for "refuge in a bag" blends combining pedigreed insect-resistant seed with non-resistant seed.


Canadian seed companies already have federal approval to sell wheat blends and corn blends that allow insect pests to survive at low levels and prolong the useful life of insect-resistant genetics.


Having such a "refuge" for a targeted pest cuts down on the probability that random mutations in the pest would otherwise allow it to overcome the tolerance characteristic in the plants would become persistent and widespread.


Canada's wheat sector was the first crop sector in the world to set up such a strategy, for management of the characteristic that confers tolerance to orange blossom wheat midge in varieties such as AC Goodeve and AC Unity.


Seed companies have since picked up CFIA approval for sale of insect-resistant corn varieties that contain a required five per cent refuge in the same bag, such as Monsanto's Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete and Pioneer Hi-Bred's Optimum AcreMax.


Such varieties were previously sold by themselves and required growers to plant a certain percentage of their acres to a structured refuge in bars or strips. A pre-blended refuge, on the other hand, helps ensure the "optimal proportion" of the refuge variety within an insect-resistant crop.


"Works best"


The amendments to the federal Seeds Regulations -- pre-published for comment in November 2010, then published Feb. 29 this year in the Canada Gazette and in force as of Feb. 9 -- clarify that a Canada pedigreed grade name -- for example, "Canada Certified No. 1" -- and official certification tags can be applied to plant pest tolerance management (PPTM) varietal blends.


They also clarify the requirements for the grading and labelling of pedigreed seed of PPTM varietal blends, to ensure their "truthful representation in the marketplace," the federal government said.


Previous versions of the Seeds Regulations didn't "clearly define" the requirements for the grading and labelling of seed of varietal blends of two varieties of the same species for the major agricultural crop kinds such as wheat, corn and soybeans.


"It is expected that the amendments will, in the long run, enhance uptake of the PPTM varietal blend strategy, thereby prolonging the efficacy of plant pest tolerance characteristics to the benefit of the agriculture sector as a whole," the government said in its regulatory impact analysis statement.


Without a refuge strategy, for instance, it's estimated that orange blossom wheat midge would overcome midge-tolerant wheat in less than 10 years.


"These amendments will help producers choose the pest management strategy that works best for their crops and allows seed producers to better market their innovative products," Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a release Tuesday.


"Blends intended to manage pests can help increase crop yields, maintain crop quality and improve a producer's bottom line, benefiting the entire Canadian agriculture sector."


Country Guide, March 29, 2012



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Organic Crop Shortages Predicted 


Canada could soon experience an organic commodity shortage because of a sudden drop in the number of certified growers, industry officials warn.

Domestic supplies of organic grain and other commodities could start tightening up as early as this summer because many growers have left the industry during the last three years, says Matthew Holmes, Canada Organic Trade Association executive director.

A lot will depend on the weather, he says.

"If we have a bad growing year, for example, supply could be very strained in Canada."

Holmes told a recent provincial organic marketing workshop in Winnipeg that the number of certified organic producers in Canada fell by 4.5 per cent between 2009 and 2010.

The drop was particularly severe on the Prairies. Saskatchewan lost 16 per cent of its organic growers, while the numbers in Alberta and Manitoba fell by 11 and five per cent respectively.

The main reason is a boom in market prices for conventionally grown crops, Holmes explains.

Up until 2008, organic crops had always fetched a price premium over conventional crops. But then market prices for wheat, canola, corn and other commodities took off and organic crops lost their advantage. A number of certified growers reverted to conventional crops in order to cash in and immediately lost their organic status.

It takes three years to achieve organic certification. Producers who want to return to organic production will have to start the certification process all over again, says Holmes.

Meanwhile, the demand for organic commodities is increasing. Holmes says organic sales in Canada grew from $2 billion in 2008 to $2.6 billion in 2010.

That means there will be a lot of opportunity for organic farmers in the near future, says Holmes.

"For anybody who stuck around, who's still certified organic or is just transitioning into organic, the market's going to be very robust."

Laura Telford, a Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives organic marketing specialist, says many organic farmers held on to their supplies for three years, hoping prices would rebound, but then gave up.

Now that prices are recovering, it will take another three years to rebuild the market, she says.

"To me, that looks like a huge opportunity if you're one of those organic farmers still left standing, because supply is going to be very tight."

Telford says she is trying to encourage lapsed organic producers to regain their status.

Manitoba lost an estimated 15 per cent of its organic growers in 2011 on top of the five per cent who left in 2010. The province used to have over 200 certified organic farmers but there are now only about 150, says Telford.


Ron Friesen, FCC Express, March 23, 2012


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Hog Sector Changes Announced in Manitoba 


Manitoba and the federal government have doubled government funding for manure treatment systems to help the province's hog producers meet new manure management regulations.

A federal-provincial cost-shared program has raised the funding cap for manure treatment systems to $500,000 from the previous $250,000. The government portion of the cost for individual projects has also been increased to 75 per cent from 65 per cent.

The reason for the increase is that the program, originally announced last year, had "zero uptake" because it covered only a little of what manure treatment systems actually cost, says Andrew Dickson, Manitoba Pork Council general manager.

"The level of grant was so small compared to the cost of doing things that no one was going to do it," Dickson says. "These treatment systems are very, very expensive."

Under provincial legislation enacted last year, Manitoba hog farmers may not build new operations or expand existing ones without specialized manure treatment systems, such as anaerobic digesters and separation equipment.

The measure is part of an effort to prevent run-off containing phosphorus from hog manure from entering Lake Winnipeg and degrading water quality.

Phosphorus promotes the spread of green algae, a chronic problem in Manitoba's largest lake.

Another regulation will prevent all Manitoba livestock producers from spreading manure on fields during winter, starting in November 2013. The winter spreading ban already applies to large operators but will now affect small producers as well.

Several hundred small producers who were previously exempt from the ban will now have to enlarge their manure storages to comply with the new rule, Dickson says.

The federal-provincial program will provide funding to help producers increase their manure storage capacity.

In another development, the federal government recently announced a $4.5 million grant to help Maple Leaf Meats upgrade its Manitoba pork processing facilities in Brandon and Winnipeg.

Manitoba Pork Council welcomed the move.


"It's encouraging that our government understands that value-added production lines will increase marketing opportunities for the pork industry which ultimately benefits all Manitobans," says Karl Kynoch, council chair.

However, the industry worries there may not be enough pigs in Manitoba to fill Maple Leaf's packing plant in Brandon because of the province's tougher environmental regulations.

Dickson says pork production has reached a plateau in Manitoba and large hog operators are starting to build new barns in Saskatchewan instead.


Ron Friesen, FCC Express, March 23, 2012


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Basics Agreed to for NSAC Merger into Dalhousie 


Programming at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College is not expected to change for at least the next two years after it becomes Dalhousie University's Faculty of Agriculture, effective July 1.


Representatives of the two schools on Friday announced an agreement in principle for NSAC's merger into Dalhousie, covering general details such as interim leadership, operating funding and transition costs.


The formal agreement won't be finalized until all the fine details are settled and the legislation is approved by the Nova Scotia legislature, the two schools said Friday.


Truro-based NSAC, now operated and largely funded by the provincial agriculture department, will see Halifax-based Dalhousie receive the $17.1 million in ag department funding making up just over half of the ag college's operating budget.


The provincial ag department will kick in an additional $1.5 million in the coming fiscal year to cover some merger-related costs, and a one-time allocation of $7.5 million over three years for transition costs, such as IT conversion and building maintenance.


The province "has also agreed to cover some specific budget pressures in the years ahead relating to items such as deferred maintenance and increasing resource costs," the two schools said.


NSAC's operating budget also includes $6.8 million, provided through a university memorandum of understanding with the provincial labour and advanced education department. Other revenues come from sources such as tuition and fees.


NSAC faculty and staff officially become employees of Dalhousie effective July 1, at which time the college becomes a faculty within Dalhousie on a "distinct campus."


Harold Cook, Dalhousie's former dean of medicine, will be the interim campus principal and dean for the new ag faculty effective May 1. A "national search" starts immediately for a full-term principal/dean, the two schools said.


NSAC employees' previous collective agreements will move to Dalhousie and the staff will stay in the province's Public Service Superannuation Plan. NSAC staff's future collective agreements, when they expire, will be negotiated with Dalhousie.


"Opportunities ahead"


NSAC students formally become Dalhousie students this fall but won't notice much difference in their academic experience right away, as NSAC's course calendar has already been set for September and "there are no changes planned to NSAC's programs for at least the next two academic years," the two schools said.


All parties, however, "acknowledge that pairing Dal and NSAC presents some exciting opportunities for academic and research collaboration in the years ahead."


Any future changes to the ag faculty's programs will be made through the "existing academic change process," which includes input from faculty and approval from Dalhousie's senate.


The two schools announced in May 2011 that they would start talks toward a merger, aimed at building a "national centre of excellence" for ag research and innovation, offering both schools' students a "broader choice of programs" and boosting the schools' ability to compete for research funds and student recruitment.


The immediate next step is for the transition process to get underway, the two schools said. A leadership team will "soon begin working with department and offices to determine what elements of a transition need to happen in the next few months, and which can wait until after the July 1 merger date."


While some aspects of the merger will take place quickly, it will likely take several years before all elements of a transition would be complete, the two schools said.


Country Guide, March 28, 2012


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CFIA Seeks Input on Health of Animals Act 


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is looking for feedback on proposed changes to the Health of Animals Act.


The changes, it says, are intended to strengthen livestock and poultry traceability in Canada. CFIA says the changes would increase rapid response time to disease outbreaks and natural disasters, like floods and ice storms, and protect public health and food safety.


CFIA says the focus is farm-to-slaughter traceability of livestock and poultry species. The proposed changes include animal and location identification, animal movement reporting and recording and information and privacy protection.

A consultation document explaining the proposed changes is available on the CFIA's website and is open for comments until May 3, 2012. The CFIA will use comments from the public and stakeholders to help shape the proposal.

To read more about the changes and for details on how to comment, go to


Allison Finnamore, FCC Express, March 23, 2012


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Mustard - Not Just For Hotdogs Anymore, Research Shows 


University of Alberta researcher Christina Engels has discovered how to extract a compound from mustard seeds that can protect against food spoilage.

Engels recovered a particular compound - sinapic acid - from mustard seed meal, which shows antibacterial effects against such strains as Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes, all of which can cause grave illness and death in humans. Canada is the world's largest exporter of mustard seed.

The results published recently in the European Food Research & Technology journal

Engels' isolation of sinapic acid lends a useful function to mustard seed meal, which is the product left over after the seed is pressed for its oil. While the oil can be used in making biodiesel and in some Asian markets as cooking oil, "the defatted seed meal left over is currently of little economic value," said Engels, who conducted the research to complete her PhD in the U of A Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science. Since most companies don't have the intricate technology required to sort through the many compounds found in plant extracts, the discovery makes it possible to quantify the bioactivity of the extracts with standard instrumentation.

"That means the mustard seed meal can be used as a source for natural food preservatives," Engels said, and could mean more consumer choice.


University of Alberta Press Release, in BITES-L, March 28, 2012


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Application Deadline Nears for Guelph's Ag MBA 


Nothing stays the same, be it in agriculture, business, international trade or learning. And the University of Guelph has a unique Masters of Business Administration program that reflects that notion.


The school is combining those factors in its MBA (master's degree in business administration) in Food and Agri-business Management, a program considered innovative in a number of ways.


From the perspective of Ken Smith, associate dean of executive programs for Guelph's College of Management and Economics, Guelph's MBA is a leader in its approach, which focuses on specific management aspects within the food and agri-business sectors.


"We're not teaching the industry, per se, we're teaching the components of an MBA, using case studies and examples and a few specialization courses that expose an individual to the whole chain, from fertilizer to fork," said Smith.


"The reason that's valuable is that wherever you are in the chain, whatever business you're in in the chain, it's important to understand the rest of the chain. It's relevant to an agribusiness company to understand what the thinking is downstream, and it's important to a retailer to understand who they're buying from and how that industry works."


Best management practices reach beyond what happens in the field. It's true that they can affect planting and marketing decisions and storage requirements, and not just how to protect stored farm product from pests or moisture, but specifically how to handle quality issues that are pertinent to millers or processors.


Add to that the growing globalization of the food industry -- more people are eating better, have higher disposable incomes and are living longer -- and the realization that the "agriculture and food" industry is expanding, with more opportunities for people beyond the front-line role of the farmer, such as policy advisors, trade brokers, marketing and communications personnel and sales and scouting advisors.


"I think that's particularly important for the Canadian industry to be focused on, right now," said Smith. "This (agri-food/agri-business) industry is globalizing, and if we are only focused on the farming, then we're going to miss out on the rest of the value chain, and a lot of the money's made, and a lot of the value is created, in the rest of that value chain."


Read more here.


Country Guide, March 27, 2012


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'Insurance' Rather Than IPM the Norm 


Insurance pest management, rather than integrated pest management, is becoming an increasingly common form of IPM in commercial corn and soybean fields.

"The increased use of crop production inputs without scouting or use of economic thresholds is being exacerbated by high commodity prices and will likely continue under the current crop production parameters," said professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray. "However, there are likely to be negative long-term consequences, such as insecticide resistance and reductions in natural enemy populations."

Over 50 years ago, some University of California entomologists outlined the key concepts in IPM.


  • Insect densities fluctuate within a growing season and over long periods of time, around a general equilibrium position,
  • Densities are affected by biotic (predators, parasitoids, diseases) and abiotic (weather) factors,
  • Densities can be estimated (scouted) and economic thresholds used to help make treatment decisions,
  • The economic threshold can be used as a guideline to determine when to apply an insecticide to prevent insect numbers from increasing to a point where important economic loss will occur,
  • Insect pest populations should be managed to optimize natural control.

"The question," said Gray, "is whether these IPM pillars are still relevant." The modern corn and soybean production system is characterized by fewer producers, increasing farm size and absentee landowners, and high commodity prices. Pest management decisions are often influenced by input suppliers, corn is increasingly viewed as a biofuel, and the market place is increasingly driven by transgenic traits.

Gray used an anonymous electronic audience response system (hand-held clickers) at seven regional meetings of the Corn and Soybean Classics to gather data on current insect control practices.

He found that during the past several growing seasons, the use of tank-mix applications containing both an insecticide and fungicide has been common in Illinois corn and soybean fields. In 2011, an average of 48 percent (sample size = 653) of the producers who responded said they treated their soybeans with an insecticide and fungicide combination. A smaller percentage of producers (33 percent, sample size = 645) indicated they treated their corn with a tank mix during the 2011 growing season.

Of most interest and concern is the admission by 50 percent of all producers (sample size = 423), and the majority of producers in Bloomington, Mt. Vernon, and Quincy, that they did not scout their fields or use a threshold to make their treatment decision.

These findings are surprising in light of the results of surveys led by Gray and crop sciences researchers Ron Estes and Nick Tinsley in July-August 2011. They found insect densities in corn and soybean fields to be very low across 47 Illinois counties. The numbers of bean leaf beetles, Japanese beetles, green cloverworms, and western corn rootworm adults were well below economic levels in most fields. Overall defoliation levels in soybean fields were low, and silk clipping in corn fields was negligible., March 26, 2012


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Food Demand Spiking Crop Chemical Use? 


As the world demands more food and the agriculture industry strives to meet it, environmentalists, scientists and farm advocates are growing more concerned about how the agriculture will meet these demands.


They are concerned because the ag industry's response has been to increase the use of agrochemicals and fertilizer, which increase health and environmental dangers in their opinion. Recent news report have highlighted how fertilizer is getting into the groundwater in parts of California, contaminating the rural drinking water supply.


As agriculture relies on its technologies, pressure on the ecosystems is increasing. These groups point to the use of more herbicides, fertilizer and biotechnology. Concern has also been growing over the ability of these technologies to hold up under increasing pressure. Herbicide-resistant weed populations appear to be increasing. Insects are developing resistance to insecticides. And last year, there was documented evidence of one strain of Bt corn losing its effectiveness.


Pat Sinicropi, legislative director at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, an organization of municipal water interests, told Reuters, "The pressure on agriculture is mounting to squeeze as much yield out of their land as possible, which is driving more and more chemical use."


Even a DuPont executive addressed the risk. Jim Borel, Borel, executive vice president of DuPont, which has projected strong growth in sales of insecticide, herbicide and pesticide products, told Reuters, "With any technology there is risk. People tend to focus on either the problems, or worse yet, the fears that people create about potential problems.


"But," Borel said in an interview, "if we are going to feed 10 billion people in the next 40 years we have to essentially double agricultural production. We all have to work together. We have to be eyes wide open around the challenges and the risks."


As demand for crops increase, so will demand for herbicides and biotechnology. One study in the journal BioScience, released in January, showed herbicide use could see a "profound increase" if the new biotech crops being developed see the same rate of adoption that Roundup Ready crops experienced.


Read more here.


Colleen Scherer, Managing Editor, Ag Professional, March 28, 2012


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World Scientists Define United Approach to Tackling Food Insecurity  


Nearly one billion people in the world are undernourished, while millions suffer from chronic disease due to excess food consumption. Global demand is growing for agricultural products and food prices are rising, yet roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Climate change threatens more frequent drought, flooding and pest outbreaks, and the world loses 12 million hectares of agricultural land each year to land degradation. Land clearing and inefficient practices make agriculture the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution on the planet.


To address these alarming patterns, an independent commission of scientific leaders from 13 countries released today a detailed set of recommendations to policy makers on how to achieve food security in the face of climate change. In their report, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change proposes specific policy responses to the global challenge of feeding a world confronted by climate change, population growth, poverty, food price spikes and degraded ecosystems. The report highlights specific opportunities under the mandates of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Group of 20 (G20) nations.


"Food insecurity and climate change are already inhibiting human well-being and economic growth throughout the world and these problems are poised to accelerate," said Sir John Beddington, chair of the Commission. "Decisive policy action is required if we are to preserve the planet's capacity to produce adequate food in the future." The report was released at the Planet Under Pressure conference where scientists from around the world are honing solutions for global sustainability challenges targeted to the Rio Summit, which will be held on 20-22 June in Brazil.


The Commission has outlined seven recommendations designed to be implemented concurrently by a constellation of governments, international institutions, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies and researchers. They call for changes in policy, finance, agriculture, development aid, diet choices and food waste as well as revitalized investment in the knowledge systems to support these changes.


Professor Judi Wakhungu, executive director of the African Center for Technology Studies (ACTS), said, "As a Commission, we were charged with harvesting the wealth of scientific knowledge and practical solutions that have been accumulated by recent assessment reports on food security and climate change. Together, we carefully distilled the seven most important ways for policy makers to make global food security and climate stabilization a reality."


The Commission's recommendations encourage significantly raising the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade; sustainably intensifying agricultural production on the existing land base while reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and reducing losses and waste in the food system. "It's past time to realize that farms of every size all over the world are fundamental to human nutrition and economic well-being, but they are also facing critical choices with significant implications for the way we manage the planet for long term sufficiency," according to U.S. Commissioner Professor Molly Jahn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Read more here.


Burness Communications, March 28, 2012


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Women from Monsanto Canada Running to Help Empower Girls and Women in the Developing World 


An innovative, passionate, driven group of women who work for Monsanto Canada Inc., and who care about their health and the health of women and girls in the developing world, have committed to complete the More® Magazine/Fitness® Magazine Women's Half Marathon in New York City on April 15, 2012 and to fundraise for Plan International's 'Because I am a Girl' campaign at the same time.


As a company previously selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, Monsanto has been recognized as a great place to work. A key component of that culture includes the encouragement of work/life balance among all employees. This emphasis is what stemmed the creation of the 'Monsanto Chix' half marathon team of seven women - five of whom work for Monsanto Canada.


"As women in agriculture who care about our health and staying active, we wanted to select an event that shared that vision," explained Trish Meyers, an agronomist with Monsanto based in Saskatoon. "But we also saw this as an opportunity to support other girls and women so that's where the fundraising idea came in. We all thought it would be a great idea to leverage our passion to help other women and girls."


The Monsanto Chix marathon team decided to support Plan International's Because I am a Girl campaign - a program designed to empower girls and women to claim a brighter future in the developing world by helping to provide clean water, food security, health care and education. The team has set a goal to fundraise over $3,000 for Plan International. Currently the Monsanto Chix team is the No. 2 ranked fundraising team on the Because I am a Girl website.


"We are really inspired about the opportunity to help others," said Jenna Book, a marketing associate who works out of Monsanto Canada's Head office in Winnipeg. "Monsanto has been very supportive of our idea and through the company's Matching Gift Program in Canada, will match any donations we personally make up to a maximum of $500. We have also received excellent support and encouragement from our friends, family, and coworkers."


The More® Magazine/Fitness® Magazine Women's Half Marathon is an inspirational and well-organized event that brings many women together in a positive way. The Monsanto group chose this event because some of the team members had participated in the race before and all agreed that it would be both fun and challenging to run a half marathon.


Monsanto Canada team members include: Jenna Book, Arvel Lawson, Trish Meyers, Erin Romeo, and Andrea Webster. To track the progress of the Monsanto Chix efforts or support their cause, search for the Monsanto Chix fundraiser at


Monsanto Press Release, March 26, 2012


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Invitation to Participate in CFPF Fertilizer Regulatory Modernization Working Groups  


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has initiated a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework for food safety, plant health and animal health. Modernization of the Fertilizers Regulations has been identified as a short term priority. The goal of the initiative is to develop a modernized framework for fertilizers and supplements that incorporates risk and out-come based approaches, is founded on reliable science and meets the needs of the modern Agricultural sector both domestically and internationally. The members of the Canadian Fertilizer Products Forum (CFPF) have been invited to provide input to the process via technical working groups.


The process to be followed will be similar to that adopted for other CFPF working groups. The four new working groups will address regulatory modernization issues around

- Human, animal, plant and environmental safety of fertilizers and supplements

- Product efficacy

- Labeling & Market Access

- Definitions and Exemptions


Membership is open to industry, end users and all other interested fertilizer and supplements stakeholders. Reports from the new Working Groups will be forwarded, as recommendations to the CFIA from the CFPF executive committee and each Working Group will report on its work at the annual CFPF Forum in October 2012. CFIA representatives from the Fertilizer Section and the Fertilizer Safety Office will participate in all working groups in an advisory capacity.


If you are interested in participating, please email Frances Rodenburg for more information and contacts at CFPF.  


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Career Openings 


General Manager - AgriBusiness
Niagara, Ontario
General Manager, AgriBusiness required for a business that supplies agricultural row crop and horticultural crop inputs and services to growers.   


Agricultural Market Analyst
London, Ontario
Market Analyst required to fill an essential role in interpreting and communicating commodity analysis for a leading company's subscription base of farmers, agribusinesses and other agricultural institutions.


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Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food


The Committee met on March 28 to hear witnesses on their study on the food supply chain.  Presentations were made by representatives of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, Conference Board of Canada and George Morris Centre.


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Coming Events


International Fascination of Plants Day, May 18, 2012


Canadian Society of Soil Science and Association Québécoise de Spécialistes en Sciences du Sol Joint Conference, Lac Beauport, Quebec, June 3-7, 2012


3rd International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare, Saskatoon, June 5-7, 2012

Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA - AMPA - ASAS - Canadian Society of Animal Science - WSASAS, Phoenix, Arizona, July 15-19, 2012


Joint Annual Meeting of AIC, the Canadian Society of Agronomy, Certified Crop Advisors and Canadian Society for Horticultural Science, Saskatoon, July 16-19, 2012

5th World Congress of Agronomists and Agrologists, Quebec City, September 17-21, 2012 


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AIC LogoAIC Notes is a weekly update provided as a service for AIC members.  Please do not circulate or post.  The content of AIC Notes does not represent official positions, opinions or support of AIC or its members. 

Frances Rodenburg, Editor