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Archive for June, 2017

dry pond

flooded corn fieldIn 2016, many areas of the province saw very warm and dry conditions, and many wells were still dry leading into the winter. In other years, like the start to the 2017 growing season, the province experienced periods of excessive rain, leading to saturated soils and flooding. Both situations create many challenges for livestock and poultry farmers.

No one can control the weather, but we can plan for it. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) encourages you to plan for future weather – conserving water and using it efficiently can help during low water conditions, and having effective drainage systems in place can help with saturated soil and runoff.

Things to consider for low water conditions:

  • Plan ahead: Know how much water your animals need and try to predict how long it would take for your water sources to run dry. Have a contingency plan ready that you can carry out in case your water sources have maxed out. Use the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s Emergency Plan low water worksheet to help you with the contingency plan.
  • Include a list of alternative water sources in your contingency plan. This can include water haulers and well drillers. Keep in mind that these sources may be unavailable at the height of low water conditions, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
  • Think about installing water-metering equipment to get accurate measurements of water use.
  • Apply for a Permit to Take Water through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (special rules and circumstances apply).
  • Monitor heat stress in your livestock and have management solutions on-hand when heat stress runs high, but water levels run low.
  • Look at your feed inventory now. If stocks are low for this time of year, consider looking for additional or alternative feed for fall and winter. It’s not too early!

Things to consider for excessive water conditions:

  • Look at your feed supply, as excessive rain can affect planting and harvesting times.
  • Make sure you have enough straw or other bedding materials.
  • Examine your property, your buildings and hard surfaces (like loading areas and parking lots) for flood risk areas. Install eavestroughs to redirect water away from your buildings and create a drainage plan. Plan the steps you’ll need to take to move livestock, feed and equipment in the event of a flood.
  • Create a plan to manage barnyard/feedlot runoff. Determine if you have enough liquid manure storage capacity to store extra material from wet barnyards, and have a plan ready if you don’t (such as using a neighbour’s storage). Also consider what you’ll do to avoid manure storage overflow from rain and flood water.
  • Have a plan ready in the event that manure spreading is delayed due to rain and your storages are full.
  • Think about your electricity generators – are they adequate for your farm’s needs in case of a power outage?
  • Pre-plan alternate routes to avoid travelling on flooded roads, considering services both into and out of the farm (such as feed trucks).

OMAFRA is working with other provincial ministries, conservation authorities and other partners to develop ways to help you manage water. There are existing resources that can help you, too:

Ontario has business risk management programs in place to help you when factors beyond your control affect your operation. Contact Agricorp for more information about these programs.

Visit OMAFRA’s Adverse Weather, Low Water, Irrigation and Drainage web pages for resources to help you prepare for various weather conditions.

Do you have questions about contingency planning? Contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

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For the very first time, the 2016 Census of Agriculture asked, “did this operation sell any agricultural products directly to consumers for human consumption?”  With this simple question, we now have a glimpse into direct sales of Ontario’s local foods that we’ve never had before!

Ontario leads the country with 7,474 farms reporting direct-to-consumer sales, followed by British Columbia and Quebec with 5,667 and 5,459 farms respectively.  Overall, 15.1% of Ontario’s farms are making local foods available for direct purchase by consumers.

At the regional-level, fascinating patterns emerge in the prevalence of direct-to-consumer farm sales.  Click to see maps by the number and percentage of farms reporting direct sales.  Ontario’s Central West Region is a direct marketing powerhouse with over 330 farms engaging in direct-to-consumer sales in each of Grey, Wellington, Niagara, Simcoe, and Waterloo.  It is also notable to look at regions with the highest proportion of farms engaging in direct-to-consumer sales.   By this metric, Haliburton leads the province with 53% of farms engaging in some form of direct sales, followed by Muskoka with 48%.  In Thunder Bay, Algoma, Parry Sound, and Kenora, roughly 40% of all farms are engaging in direct-to-consumer sales – an indication of the importance of direct marketing as a sales channel for Northern Ontario producers.

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Top 5 Regions for Number of Farms Selling Value-Added Products Direct-to-Consumer
  County/Region # of farms
1 Niagara 54
2 Simcoe 45
3 Grey 41
4 Durham 36
5 Prince Edward 32

What is being sold?

Nearly all of Ontario’s direct marketers (97% or 7,265 farms) are selling unprocessed agricultural products, while only 12% or 907 farms are selling value-added products.  This represents a potential area for growth as Ontario is lagging behind Quebec, most Maritime Provinces and the national average of 14%.  Niagara Region has the highest number of farms reporting direct sales of value-added products at 54.

How is it being sold?

The predominant sales channel for Ontario’s direct marketers is on-farm retail (farm gate/stand/kiosk/u-pick) with 90% (6,709 farms) using this channel.  Farmers’ markets are the second most common channel: 1,619 farms sell their products at one or more farmers’ markets.  This represents 3.3% of all Ontario farms, just above the national average of 2.8%.  In Ontario, Niagara Region has the most farms reporting farmers’ market sales (122 farms) while Kenora, Thunder Bay and Algoma have the highest proportion of farms reporting farmers’ markets sales.

Top 5 Regions for Number of Farms Selling through Farmers’ Markets
  County/Region # of farms
1 Niagara 122
2 Simcoe 85
3 Haldimand-Norfolk 72
4 Wellington 67
5 Grey 65

Across Ontario, 403 farms report selling through Community-Support Agriculture or CSA.  These farms are fairly evenly dispersed throughout the province; every county/region has at least one farm reporting CSA sales, with the exception of Rainy River.  Grey, Durham, and Wellington have the highest number of CSAs at 19 farms each.

Of the 24,510 Canadian farms reporting direct-to-consumer sales, 30% call Ontario home!  This Local Food Week, let’s celebrate the value of our direct farm marketing sector, not only for the economic opportunities it creates, but also for the access to local food it affords, the community it fosters, and the agriculture and food literacy it builds.

Note: all data for this blog was sourced from CANSIM Table 004-0244 Census of Agriculture, farms reporting selling agricultural products directly to consumers in the year prior to the census.

 

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