Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Shaun Haney: How Ontario and the West are Different.

I have posted this commentary by our friend Shaun Haney of Alberta, he dropped in to the Farms.com office for a visit a couple of weeks ago on his trip to Ontario.



How Ontario and the West are Different.
By Shaun Haney, Realagriculture.com

I recently traveled to Ontario to attend some meetings that pertained to my seed business. I had a great time and was hosted by some great companies and people. The real treat was getting to spend some time with local retailers and farmers from all over Ontario. I always enjoy spending time with farmers and agribusiness people from different trading areas than my own because it gives me a chance to ask questions and learn.

Agriculture in Ontario has many differences from agriculture in Western Canada, and this becomes more evident the more I visit the province. Alberta and Saskatchewan have differences but not like the west and Ontario. I heard one Ontario farmer refer to the difference as black and white. One seed retailer told me that, “when you compare Ontario and Western Canadian agriculture, it’s like different countries.”

Here are a few key differences:

1. No single desk selling on wheat – This is super obvious and throws boat gas on any anti-wheat board westerner. One person told me that nothing puts Ontario farmers to sleep faster than westerners talking about the Canadian Wheat Board. The Ontario wheat market is much smaller than the west’s, but still it makes no sense to me that this difference in marketing control has transpired.

Ontario also rid itself of KVD much sooner than the west did. Apparently the Ontario wheat market is able to convince politicians to enact change much better and faster than their western farmer colleagues. Whether you are in favour of a single desk or not, it is incredibly strange that only certain regions of the country are forced to sell its wheat to a single desk entity.

2. Firmer understanding of IP markets – Due to the identity-preserved (IP) market for non-GMO edible soybeans, I find that Ontario farmers have a better grasp of quality systems and the direct impact that they have on the customer. The west does access some special crop markets in IP systems, but the soybean business is much different. Even in the wheat market in Ontario, it seems that farmers are more experienced in talking to millers. One great example was the package of whole-wheat pasta made from Ontario-grown durum that I received from my friend Archie Wilson at C&M Seeds. That’s right, Ontario durum. C&M developed a pilot project with some growers and a miller to create a locally-produced Ontario pasta product.

3. Smaller farms – Western agriculture is much bigger in farm size due to the wide open prairies. Big Ontario farms are in the 1,500- to 3,000-acre range, not the 15,000-acre range. This is partly due to the massive difference in the cost of land. I had dinner with one farmer that said land is selling in his region for up to $10,000 per acre. That kind of price will do a lot to constrict expansion. I think this issue of size is what really makes the differences interesting. The size difference directly impacts the development of agricultural policy and farm assistance programs across the country. Smaller farms also lead to smaller fields which affects land management. The way that you manage a 4000 acre field on the Blood Reserve in Alberta is different than a 80 acre field just outside Ottawa. This is what makes Canadian agriculture so diverse and challenging.

4. Larger urban influence – Farming in the Greater Toronto Area is much different than farming just outside Saskatoon or Calgary or Winnipeg. The impact of urban population on agriculture is dramatic. This year a law was passed banning all urban pesticide use. Farmers are very concerned that this is the thin edge of the wedge and banning agricultural pesticides could be next. Agriculture has real roots in areas like London and Guelph, but otherwise the urban centers have no really business connection to the farming world around them. Although the west is moving this way, the larger western cities still have some attachment to agriculture in the sense they still drive the economy in the surrounding area.

5. Main crop types – Ontario is wall to wall corn and soybeans, while the west is mainly wheat and canola. Ontario does have a fairly large crop of winter wheat, by Ontario standards, and a small amount of canola, but driving around the province you see how dominant the corn-soy rotation has become. I live in a major corn growing area in Picture Butte, Alberta, but it is nothing like Ontario where in some areas all you can see it corn. I think the fact that Canada can produce many different crops is what makes it quite unique in the global agricultural arena.

Traveling to Ontario, you begin to realize the challenge Gerry Ritz and his team have in managing the differences between east and west. Add B.C. and Quebec into the mix, and the challenge becomes that much greater. Canada is a large country, which can be a hindrance or strategic advantage. The cool thing about traveling in Canada is that whether you are in London or Lethbridge, agriculture is a very warm community of people that share the common bond of trying to feed the world. Thank you Ontario for the great visit.

Views: 28

Comment

You need to be a member of Ontario Agriculture to add comments!

Join Ontario Agriculture

Comment by Joe Dales on October 10, 2009 at 6:52am
I wonder Steve if Canadian ag policy and programs can fit the breadth and depth of Canadian Agriculture.

Do the government policy writers need to approach this diversity from a new direction?



Shaun's operation is an example...he is located in Southern Alberta near the town of Picture Butte just north of Lethbridge and in that usually arid region, there has been over 1 million acres of irrigated land developed by the farmers....they grow corn, vegetables and the regular western crops in the area...huge diversity even in the west...

How do they design programs when we live in a world of extreme volatility with a large number of commodities, wide swinging commodity prices, flucutating exchange rates and lucrative foreign gov't support programs?

Joe
Comment by Steve Twynstra on October 8, 2009 at 3:10pm
First caught this story in Grainnews. Thanks Shaun for helping to bridge the Ontario-West gap with this kind of reporting. We'll just leave Quebec out of it for now...

You commented on the challenge of creating federal agr policy and assistance. Too bad your neighbour from SK is too afraid or ignorant to set his foot in ON outside of Ottawa to witness the clear 'flexibility' needed to benefit ON. The first gaffe was to totally renege on "scrapping CAIS" which was a non-starter for the majority of Ontario farmers. Surprising considering the only other hold-out to implementing this boondoggle nationally was SK! However, for many here it has been a REAL slap in the face to contribute so effectively to the current stable in Ottawa only to have them turn on us when we need them in grains and oilseeds. By hiding behind bogus logic and claims they are not supporting our RMP... or was there another international trade-off involved? As a result, they are setting the stage for a significant rural electoral upset as soon as a viable alternative exists...

Agriculture Headlines from Farms.com Canada East News - click on title for full story

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Makes $5 Million Investment in Priority Research Areas

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) has invested over $5 million into pulse research projects to improve productivity and reduce threats to pulse crop production.  Under the recently announced Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) AgriScience Program Clusters Component, SPG will leverage grower levy dollar investment with over $21 million of Government and other industry partner funding for the Pulse Cluster.  A complete list of projects, including researchers, and SPG’s investment can be seen below.  Selection of Early Maturing Dry Bean Germplasm and Cultivars for Sustainability and Improved Productivity Under Irrigation, Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) – $50,417   Breed for Top-Performing Field Pea Varieties and Develop SNP-based Markers for Marker-Assisted Selection for Grain and Protein Yield Maturity, Standability, and Seed Size, Dr. Dengjin Bing, AAFC – $166,000  Large Root Systems in Pulses for Drought Tolerance, Carbon Sequestra

Barley Ending Stocks Expected Heavier; Wheat, Oats Lighter

Agriculture Canada is forecasting heavier barley stocks at the end of the 2023-24 crop year, but lighter inventories of wheat and oats. In its latest monthly supply-demand estimates on Friday, Ag Canada pegged barley ending stocks for the current marketing year at 1 million tonnes, up 250,000 from the January estimate and above the previous year’s 709,000 tonnes. If accurate, it would be the heaviest barley ending stocks since 2017-18 at 1.24 million tonnes. All the increase in the ending stocks estimate is due to a reduction in feed, waste, and dockage, which fell to 5.34 million tonnes from 5.59 million for both January and 2022-23. Ag Canada’s February supply-demand update reflects the Statistics Canada grain stocks report released earlier this month, which pegged national barley stocks as of Dec. 31, 2023 at 5.5 million tonnes, up 6% from a year earlier and 10% above the average, despite a smaller 2023-24 supply. The stocks report implied total domestic use of barley in the

Reduction of Advance Payment Program Interest-Free Portion raises concerns

The recent decision to reduce the interest-free portion of the Advance Payment Program (APP) from $350,000 to $100,000 has reverberated throughout the agricultural community, causing widespread apprehension among farmers and ranchers across Canada. The Advance Payment Program, a federal loan guarantee initiative, has long been a crucial lifeline for agricultural producers, offering them reliable access to low-cost cash advances to manage cash flow and navigate the uncertainties inherent in agriculture. However, the drastic reduction in the interest-free portion has heightened the financial concerns and uncertainty among farmers.Ian Boxall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), voiced concern over the decision.  “It’s been three years since the APP interest-free portion was at $100,000, and interest rates have skyrocketed, grain prices have dramatically declined, and input prices have remained high. The program needs to reflect the current realiti

An Ounce of Prevention

Vaccines are an important tool to help minimize preweaning calf illness and death early in life, reduce the risk of reproductive failure in the breeding herd and help improve colostrum’s ability to protect next year’s calf crop when it hits the ground. Vaccine technology, programs and practices are constantly evolving. All the options can be confusing, but more options can also make it easier to customize and combine those options in a way that optimally protect your herd against the diseases that are most important to you. Dr. Cheryl Waldner and coworkers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine studied vaccination practices from coast-to-coast in 2020 (“Vaccine use in Canadian cow-calf herds and opportunities for improvement”; DOI 10.3389/fvets.2023.1235942). What They Did Cow-calf producers from BC (6), Alberta (38), Saskatchewan (27), Manitoba (18), Ontario (20), New Brunswick (2) and Nova Scotia (2) were surveyed about which vaccines they used and when they were using them

Labour gap in Canadian ag growing

The Canadian ag sector will need as many people to work as there are in Red Deer, Alta.

© 2024   Created by Darren Marsland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service