Ontario Grain Farmer December 2023 / January 2024





MEETINGS Check here for dates and times.

Stormy skies ahead? WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2024

Published by

2024 Grains in Action Grain Farmers of Ontario

February 5 - 8, 2024

Grains in Action is a four-day bus tour program for young farmers to gain knowledge about the end uses of the grains they grow. Participants also learn about the role of Grain Farmers of Ontario within the grain industry and how they can become active members of the organization. It is an opportunity for new experiences, building relationships, and professional growth. Who should attend? Young farmers who are enrolled in college/university with the intent of working on the farm; or those who have been working on-farm for a couple of years and are looking to learn more about the grain industry and Grain Farmers of Ontario. Anyone aged 19 - 35 is eligible to participate.

What does the program include? Grains in Action is a tour-based program with stops that highlight the different aspects of the grain value chain. The 2024 agenda includes tours of Pride Seed, Cargill, Sylvite, Harrow Research Centre, J.P. Wiser's distillery, ADM, IGPC, Ingredion, and Wallenstein Feed. The course also includes discussions with Grain Farmers of Ontario staff about the work our organization does on behalf offarmer-members, including Agronomy, Communications, Government Relations, Market Development, and Research.

To learn more and to register for the program, go to www.gfo.ca/about/grains-in-action or contact Rachel Telford, manager, Member Relations, at 226-979-5581 or rtelford@gfo.ca.

Space is limited to 30 participants. A waitlist will be implemented once registration is full.

ON THE COVER Stormy skies ahead Treena Hein WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2024



From the CEO’s desk

GrainTALK newsletter An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events 16

Good in Every Grain Updates on our campaign 30

Business side Conversations with business experts 9

Crop side Agronomic information from crop specialists 23

Laura Ferrier 10 Blair Andrews 12 Mary Feldskov 14

Mary Feldskov 22

A year in review

Grain contracts guide

Ontario Grain Farmer 24 Rachel Telford 26 Rebecca Hannam 28

Market review 2022 - 2023

Ontario Agricultural Conference 2024

What do Canadians think about food?

Stronger leadership

Ontario Grain Farmer 18

European trade policies

Farming for world hunger


Matt McIntosh 20

More winter barley acres


DECEMBER 2023 / JANUARY 2024 volume 15, number 3 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER is published 9 times a year (December/January, February, March, April/May, June/July, August, September, October, and November) through Grain Farmers of Ontario. Distribution is to all Ontario barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmer-members. Associate Membership Subscription available upon request. Views and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policies of Grain Farmers of Ontario. Seek professional advice before undertaking any recommendations or suggestions presented in this magazine. PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40065283. Return undeliverable items to Grain Farmers of Ontario, 679 Southgate Drive, Guelph, ON N1G 4S2. © Grain Farmers of Ontario all rights reserved.

Publisher: Grain Farmers of Ontario, Phone: 1-800-265-0550, Website: www.gfo.ca; Managing Editor: Mary Feldskov; Production Co-ordinator: Kim Ratz; Advertising Sales and Sponsorship Consultant: Joanne Tichborne


From the CEO’s desk

Feeding the world

IT IS DECEMBER — THE end of another year, another season, and hopefully, another harvest. For Ontario’s farmers, it has been a challenging year — we have experienced wild weather, from early-season drought to record rainfall in the summer months, weed and disease pressure, and the threat of DON (though, thankfully, we have not seen the impact of DON anywhere close to what it was in 2018). None of this is new or novel for farmers — we know that these disruptions to our businesses are possible, and we plan for and adapt as they arise. And we are always learning from past seasons — the 2018 DON crisis resulted in the industry coming together to find new and innovative ways to deal with its impact, so we are better prepared in a season like 2023 when we see elevated levels of DON at harvest time. The DON working group, a collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ontario Agri Business Association, the University of Guelph, and Grain Farmers of Ontario, has developed a number of tools, resources, and information to help farmers, elevators, and industry deal with DON. But no matter how prepared we are to deal with agronomic issues as they arise, there are all kinds of situations that can arise that we are not prepared for — the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its ultimate impact on fertilizer supply and global food security come to mind. Recently, it was strike action by St. Lawrence Seaway workers at the end of October that caused havoc for Ontario’s grain farmers — a situation that none of us expected but yet caused significant disruption for the entire industry. Six million tonnes of grain flow through the St. Lawrence Seaway each year on its way to customers around the globe. And much of it leaves ports at harvest time, as farmers and elevators deliver grain as it comes off the field to be loaded onto ships destined for customers in international markets like Europe, Asia, and

Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario

South America. The Seaway strike could not have come at a worse time for Ontario’s farmers — the strike caused the movement of grain to come to a grinding halt just as the soybean harvest wrapped up. Farmers found themselves with nowhere to deliver their crops as elevators started turning away deliveries, on-farm storage was at capacity, and remaining crops were left standing in the field. The strike action at the Seaway was unexpected, but we jumped into action quickly to work with industry partners to highlight the impact of the strike on our industry and the need for a quick resolution. Through meetings with industry stakeholders and the government and a robust media relations campaign, we got the word out that the Seaway strike was a major threat to Ontario’s farmers, Canada’s economy, and Canada’s and the world’s food security. Thankfully, the strike action was settled within a week, and grain started flowing through the Seaway again, averting a full-scale disaster that could have seen Ontario’s crops stuck in the field and harming Canada’s reputatfion as a reliable supplier of grains to markets around the world. It is a reminder of how important the work that Ontario farmers do each and every day — feeding Ontario, Canada, and the world. As we approach the New Year, the January District meetings are just around the corner. I hope to see many of you at the meetings where we can share more about what Grain Farmers of Ontario is doing to support farmer-members and the grain industry. We will also elect delegates, alternates, and directors in even-numbered districts. You can find the date, location, and time of your District meeting on page 17. I also want to wish all of you a Happy Holidays and a joyous New Year — I hope you can take a break after the busy harvest, and may your holiday season be filled with family, friends, and good health. l


Women’s Grain Symposium Grain Farmers of Ontario

Thank you to the 2023 Women’s Grain Symposium sponsors! The support of our sponsors helped make our event a tremendous success and fulfilled our goal of making connections.

Banquet and keynote speaker sponsor

Reception and hospitality suite sponsor

Tuesday lunch, nutrition breaks and panel discussion sponsor

Speaker sponsors

Monday nutrition break sponsor



Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Women’s Grain Symposium is an opportunity for networking, professional development, and leadership development. It is open to women who are grain farmers, active members of their family grain operation, or working within the grain sector of agriculture business with a direct connection to farmers. We look forward to hosting the Symposium again in 2024.




Cover story

Treena Hein

Stormy skies ahead? WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2024

THERE ARE MANY challenges on a grain farm, and one that farmers increasingly have to worry about is erratic weather. David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, notes in one of his yearly weather summaries that "when it rains, it often rains harder and longer. Records continue to topple like never before, often dramatically shattering previous records. So-called unprecedented events are becoming common." In 2021, Phillips noted a snowfall in April, heavy rains and wind-driven flooding around Victoria Day weekend in Ontario, with early

"All we can say today is that the deck is not stacked heavily in favour of an active, stormy winter (and early spring) season regionally this year, as it has been in recent years," says Pritchard. "There will be unforeseen wild cards, as there are every year. We'll watch for any potential disruptions to the polar vortex, which can at times send frigid, arctic air south into the region." In addition, blocking patterns ('log-jams' in the storm track) could deflect the southern U.S. storm track northward. It is harder to forecast into the spring and summer of 2024, but Pritchard says that during the summer, the jet stream weakens and moves north across North America. "As it does so, weather patterns become more difficult to predict, and weather impacts become more localized and nuanced because strong jet stream flow is no longer around to keep the pattern organized and moving along," he explains. "There will likely be periods of heat across Ontario and eastern Canada in summer 2024, but the anomalous ridges of high pressure that lead to prolonged periods of dangerous heat are not forecastable beyond a few weeks in advance." PREPARING YOUR FIELD Farmers may feel helpless and overwhelmed in the face of continued erratic weather. However, Johnson provides several suggested courses of action that will make a huge difference, especially in preparing for drought. "You should appropriately drain your entire farm if you haven't already," he says. "I'm the 'Environmental Advocate' with the Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario, and I work with them because I think drainage is so important to farming in Ontario, not just to manage erratic weather but because it significantly helps improve the soil. Growers

summer severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Chatsworth. In his 2022 report, he observes, "… just before the May long weekend, two days of intense heat and humidity propelled a hugely powerful line of storms across central Ontario and Quebec, bringing torrential rains, large hail and frequent lightning." There was also drought in some parts of southwestern Ontario. In the summer of 2023, the erratic weather continued. Peter Johnson, with Real Agriculture, points to seven inches of rain in the Watford area at one point as an example. THE JET STREAM, EL NIÑO, LA NIÑA To orient us about the big weather picture, Andrew Pritchard, senior meteorologist at Nutrien Ag Solutions, explains that North American weather patterns are driven by the behaviour of the jet stream, which in turn is heavily influenced by atmospheric and oceanic 'teleconnections.' "The El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is one of the biggest teleconnections we keep an eye on," he says. "We look to the Equatorial Pacific for changes in trade winds and ocean temperatures, signalling weather we're experiencing an El Niño (warmer water, weaker trade winds), La Niña (colder water, stronger trade winds) or ENSO neutral." A three-year-strong La Niña event is now ending. It meant, across Ontario, eastern Canada and the eastern U.S., an energized jet stream with an active storm track and periods of above-normal precipitation. However, Pritchard explains that during summer 2023, "we began to flip the script and are now headed for a strong El Niño event in winter 2023-2024." This will likely mean a stronger, more consolidated jet stream with significant storm systems progressing from the Pacific Ocean across the U.S., but this pattern often plays out well south of Canada.


• Erratic weather is one of the major challenges that grain farmers have to deal with. • Climatologist David Phillips says that when it rains, it often rains harder and longer. • The Jet Stream, El Niño and La Niña all play a big role in North American weather patterns. • A three-year-strong La Niña event is now ending, which caused an active storm track and above-normal precipitation. • A strong El Niño event is predicted for the winter of 2023-2024. • Agronomist Peter Johnson recommends that farmers install tile drainage to help mitigate the impact of extreme weather events like heavy rain.

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tend to think drainage is only really helpful in a wet year, but it's even more helpful in dry seasons." What Johnson means is that, in general, crop plants in drained soil will grow their roots deeper, and they are, therefore, better prepared for drought. "In Ontario, we have full recharge of the soil moisture over winter," he explains, "so if your roots are deep, they will be able to access that moisture. It's there. There's a perception that tiles remove groundwater, but they don't. I very much encourage appropriate draining. Some sandy soil areas might not need tile outside the low-lying areas, for example, but all farms need tile installed, and a licensed contractor will advise." The second course of action Johnson recommends to prepare for dry spells is to minimize compaction. "As we well know, it

CLIMATE CHANGE On a final note, some opportunities may present themselves with climate change, but caution is indicated. For example, farmers in Ontario are now able to grow longer-season crops, partly due to new genetics but also due to more heat units. However, Johnson says research from Agriculture and Agri food Canada shows that we've only gained one additional frost-free day every four years for the last 50 years, "so decisions about varieties need to consider that. Some growers swear by shorter-day hybrids no matter what, but four out of five years, they could have benefited from longer-day hybrids. My advice isto not push the envelope too much, no more than 20 per cent of your fields — and if you're risk-averse, don't do any of it. In dealing with potential extreme weather and everything else, a big part of farming is knowing your fields and knowing yourself." l

prevents water infiltration and curbs root growth," he notes. "Our knowledge around minimizing compaction has really grown, so there's little excuse not to put this knowledge into practice. Follow your field patterns, use a tire inflation system, use tracks, use other tire technologies, and so on. You can also plant alfalfa to break up compaction." Thirdly, Johnson advises another look at your rotations. "It's quite clear that good rotations help with soil resiliency and protect yield, and this becomes especially evident under drought conditions," he says. "There will be a presentation by Dr. Amélie Gaudin, UC Davis, on making the most of your rotational options at the 2024 Ontario Ag Conference in January that everyone should see." Lastly, Johnson recommends minimizing tillage and growing cover crops to help preserve and build soil aggregate stability.


Business side

Jeanine Moyer

(J.M.) HOW IS CHARITABLE GIVING ACCOUNTED FOR IN A FARM BUSINESS? (K.A.) The ability to support your local community or organizations that are important to you is so rewarding. For some, that means charitable giving or the donation of money or in-kind products. For others, giving your time as a volunteer can be just as important. Donating to a registered charity does have accounting and tax implications for a farm business. A charitable receipt or proof of your donation can be applied to receive a charitable donation tax credit. Those credits must be used within five years before they expire, meaning you can carry them over from year to year to maximize taxable benefits within the five-year period. Charitable receipts are proof of any donation and should be submitted to your accountant, so be diligent in collecting and filing receipts properly. If you are looking to receive a tax credit within the current fiscal year, be sure your donation and receipt align with those dates. Donations made to a registered charity outside of Canada cannot be claimed as a tax credit unless certain criteria are met, so be sure to consult your accountant if this applies to your business. ANY ADVICE ON DECIDING HOW MUCH TO GIVE? Giving is a personal choice and is driven by individuals and their interests and passions. I always advise clients who want to give back to their community to reflect on their own values and make sure the group or organization they are donating to aligns with their personal or professional core values. Asking yourself questions like who or what charitable groups you resonate with, what are the needs of your community, and what or who you want to support can help with the decisions — especially if you have a set percentage or dollar amount to work within. And never forget the value of volunteering your time; giving does not just have to be in the form of money or product. When it comes to determining how much to give, it is important to use all the information available to make sure you are giving within your means. Consider allocating a percentage of after-tax net income, finding a value you and your farm business are comfortable with. Crunch these numbers by taking the net income after tax, less any principal payments and cash you will need for your own purchases in the coming year. From there, you can get a clear picture of your financial position and your giving capabilities. I do not advise making charitable giving decisions solely based on tax implications, but remind clients to get charitable receipts if the donation applies. Giving from the farm BUSINESS SIDE WITH...

Keith Agnew, CPA, Team Manager, Bossy Nagy Group bng-cpa.ca

HOW CAN FARMERS PARTICIPATE IN COMMUNITY FOOD PROGRAMS DONATION TAX CREDIT? Through this program, farm businesses can receive tax credits in addition to the charitable donation tax credit for donating agricultural products to eligible community food programs in Ontario. The credit is worth 25 per cent of the fair market value of the products donated, and the additional 25 per cent tax credit must be claimed in the same year the donation is made. A qualifying donation can be an agricultural product like vegetables, meat, eggs, grains or anything else that is harvested on the farm and may be sold legally and must be made to an eligible community food program. If you are new to this program, it is a good idea to consult your accountant to determine the details of product eligibility and how the tax credit is accounted for. Some products are more straightforward than others, like donating excess vegetables, fruit, or processed meat, while milk and grains can require a different approach. It is also important to remember that there may be additional costs incurred to transport the products, but the benefits of supporting your local community may outweigh the costs. For more information about the community food program donation tax credit for farmers, visit www.ontario.ca/ page/community-food-program-donation-tax-credit-farmers or talk to your farm accountant. WHAT ABOUT SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY BEYOND A REGISTERED CHARITY? Many farm businesses support community organizations and sports teams. These contributions can also be applied to tax returns as an expense filed under advertising and promotion. So, if you are sponsoring the jerseys for your local hockey team, do not forget to ask for a receipt for the value, along with a description of your business exposure and promotion, like where the logo appeared. l






Laura Ferrier


LIKE MOST YEARS , it has been a year of ups and downs: temperature, moisture, and, in some cases, disease. Heavy rains and snow across much of the province at the start of spring caused a slight delay in planting. Some had taken a risk and planted in a warm stretch of weather in April, while more held out until May rolled around. Whether fields were planted in either month, some farmers had a humbling experience (myself included) when soybean replants happened due to a particularly cold week in May, which affected emergence. Overall, conditions were cool, and emergence

for all crops this spring was on the slow side of things; in fact, much of the growing season was behind the historical average for crop heat units (CHUs) due to cool conditions, smoke-filled skies, or as many experienced in August, a rain tap that just would not shut off, and with it very cloudy skies. As mid to late spring rolled around, crop progress was very staggered, with some crops just getting planted and others progressing well. There was also a great concern about when the next rainfall would arrive; when conditions finally allowed for acres to be planted, there was little moisture

in the forecast, and it remained this way for several weeks.

WINTER CEREALS Winter cereals in the fall of 2022 were planted inamazing conditions and, with an open fall, had great growth before winter set in. They looked exceptional at the start of spring, but as the year stretched towards summer, there was some concern over heat stress during the flowering period. Low moisture also helped ease fears of fusarium infection. After flowering, the weather turned cooler, allowing for an extended grain fill period. Many reported exceptional yields, with many past yield records broken. As summer arrived, there were timely rains, which helped the crops progress. However, those timely rains turned into rain that would not stop! Some areas received numerous inches daily, causing waterlogged soils, root rots, and disease. And at the same time, other areas were screaming for rain. WATERLOGGED SOILS Soybeans were impacted by phytophthora root rot on heavier and waterlogged soils. Extended moisture over the flowering period also led to occurrences of white mould in fields. Fungicides were sprayed across many acres to protect the crop, but with so much moisture, it was difficult to protect the entire flowering period. Some did apply a second pass of fungicide; however, only limited acres. Due to the early June drought and then excessive rains, stress in the corn appeared as uneven fields that showed soil structure variability. Regions with continual rainfall had ideal conditions for disease development with the excessive leaf wetness and humidity this season. Grey leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and tar spot began showing up in mid-July. Fungicide applications around pollination were sprayed on some acres to protect plant health. Fungicides were



As summer arrived, there were timely rains, which helped the crops progress. However, those timely rains turned into rain that would not stop!

harvest, approximately one to two weeks delay from normal, due to the previously mentioned slower CHU accumulation throughout the year. But, the weather has allowed for one of the warmest starts to October in history and helped move the crops along. And, with any luck, it will give the 2024 wheat crop a good start. At the end of October, corn was at black layer or close to black layer for most locations. Fungicides seem to be doing their job, limiting tar spot and other diseases; however, areas close to the lower Great Lakes have been impacted especially by tar spot, with plants shutting down well before normal. Ear moulds and stalk rots are starting to cause concerns in the field, as is the potential for deoxynivalenol (DON). Looking at the long-range forecast, harvest of the remaining soybeans and into corn harvest might be a challenge with lots of

targeting leaf disease, as well as ear rots. Large hail also caused disease concerns.

moisture, both from the skies and in the harvestable crop.

With high winter wheat and spring cereal yields and what looks to be bumper crops for soybeans and corn, the prediction is that grain bin space will be short this year. As we head into 2024, some topics to keep in mind: be on the lookout for disease, pests, and new or troublesome weed species in the region and be prepared to manage the crop for new or existing threats, mitigate off-target movement of herbicides, and as always, stay safe. Laura Ferrier is a Certified Crop Advisor and Grain Farmers of Ontario’s agronomist. Read Ferrier’s Field Observations in Grain Farmers of Ontario’s weekly GrainTALK e newsletter or at www.OntarioGrainFarmer.ca during the growing season, and follow her on Twitter/X at @AustinELaura. l

Pollination, overall, was good, leading to what many hope will be an exceptional corn crop.

Spring cereals were harvested late summer into the fall, with many reports of very good yields. FALL OBSERVATIONS At the time of writing, sitting here on a 21 °C evening on our porch, listening to our combine run (the kids are in bed, so I am not in the hot seat), I have great respect for those who work in acresand not hours. Yields for soybeans so far have been average to above average, with moisture in the low to mid-teens, some reaching down into the single digits as this unusual warmth has dried down the crop very quickly. Winter wheat is being seeded as fast as it can be. It has been a late soybean






Blair Andrews

Market review 2022 - 2023 GRAIN PRICES FALL BUT REMAIN HIGH

WHILE THE CORN , soybean, and wheat prices for the 2022 - 23 crop marketing year retreated from the lofty highs of 2021 - 22, they were still well ahead of the previous five-year average. The significant market drivers included the outlook for a larger corn crop in the U.S., increased soybean production in Brazil and the war in Ukraine. CORN The average Chicago cash price in 2022 - 23 was $6.21, lower than the previous year’s average of $6.46 but $1.67 above the previous five-year average of $4.54. The highest closing price in Chicago was $6.98 on October 10, October 13, and November 1, 2022.

of $7.96 and higher than the previous five year average of $5.87.

corn destined for China weighed on the market, dropping the price to $5.55 on May 19. A weather rally helped the prices gain ground again as concerns over dry conditions lifted the prices over the next few weeks, reaching $6.71 on June 21. However, forecasts for much-needed rain and a surprising acreage report from the USDA knocked the closing price down to $4.89 on June 30. Corn prices tumbled as the USDA pegged the U.S. corn acreage at 94.1 million acres, up two million from the March estimate. SOYBEANS The average closing old crop soybean price in Chicago in 2022 - 23 was $14.22, down slightly from the previous year’s average of $14.56. The previous five-year average was $11.01. The highest closing price in Chicago was $15.44 on February 21, 2023. The average Chatham-Kent high cash price for 2022 - 23 was $19.08, up 47 cents from the 2021 - 22 average of $18.61 and well above the previous five-year average of $13.91. Concerns over hot and dry weather in Argentina buoyed soybean futures in the first two months of 2023. After peaking in February, the prices declined over the next few weeks amid economic worries fuelled by the U.S. banking crisis that caused three major lenders to collapse. Expectations for a record crop in Brazil applied further pressure, dropping the price below $14.00 on June 23. The nearby future prices struggled during May, losing more than $2.00 per bushel by the end of the month. A good planting pace in the U.S., weakness in the crude oil and equity markets, and a two-month extension of the deal to allow Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea corridor weighed on the prices.

The nearby corn future traded between $6.60 to $6.98 for most of the early part of the marketing year. The prices eased in February following the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual Outlook Forum. The USDA estimated 2023 corn plantings at 91 million acres, up from 88.6 million the previous year. Production was forecast at 15.085 billion bushels, based on a record-high yield of 181.5 bushels per acre. After working their way back to $6.60, the corn futures suffered a setback in May. Favourable weather for planting and a series of cancellations by private exporters for U.S.

The average Chatham-Kent high cash price of $7.62 was lower than the 2021 - 22 average


A weather rally helped the prices gain ground again as concerns over dry conditions lifted the prices over the next few weeks, reaching $6.71 on June 21.

The market recouped the losses in June as forecasts for dry weather and improvement in the crude oil market drove the prices higher. Further support came from the USDA’s June 30 acreage report, with the department slashing its soybean estimate by four million acres to 83.5 million. The bullish factors helped the nearby future to close at approximately $14.68 on July 3. WHEAT The average Chicago cash price for wheat in 2022-23 was $7.43, lower than the 2021 - 22 average of $8.76 and approximately $1.46 higher than the previous five-year average of $5.97. The high price for the nearby future was $9.38 on October 10, 2022. Concerns over the war in Ukraine supported the market in October 2022, with Russia indicating it was ready to reject the renewal of a Black Sea corridor agreement in November. Dry weather in the U.S. Plains also contributed to the rise. The impact of the geo-political events was on full display in early November 2022 as Russia suddenly reversed its position on the corridor deal. On November 2, wheat prices plummeted by 57 cents, with the nearby future settling at $8.46. While the war in Ukraine continued to dominate the market talk through the rest of the year, issues including lower demand for higher-priced U.S. wheat, a large harvest in Russia and fears of a global recession weighed on the market. Meanwhile, larger-than expected wheat acres in the Prairie provinces contributed to the downward move in late June 2023. Statistics Canada reported that farmers planted 19.5 million acres of spring wheat, up eight per cent from 2022. Winter wheat, grown predominantly in eastern Canada, increased by 20 per cent to 1.4 million acres. As for Ontario prices by class, the average Soft Red Winter Wheat price in the Chatham area was $8.73, down $1.28 from the previous year’s average of $10.01 and $1.55 above the previous five-year average of $7.18. The average Soft White Winter Wheat price in the Chatham area was $10.84, up 62 cents from the previous year’s average of $10.22 and up $3.54 from the five-year average of $7.30. For Hard Red Winter Wheat (HRW), prices in the Chatham area averaged $9.92, down 65 cents from 2021 - 22 and $2.44 above the previous five-year average of $7.48. The prices for HRW do not include premiums.

The average closing prices in Minneapolis for Hard Red Spring Wheat averaged $8.94 in 2022 - 23, down $1.33 from the previous year’s average of $10.27 and $2.21 above the previous year’s average of $6.73.

The highest closing price in Minneapolis was $10.14 on October 10, 2022.

Ontario prices (not including premiums) tracked by Farm Market News averaged $10.67 in 2022 - 23, down by 89 cents from the previous year and up $3.08 from the previous five-year average of $7.59. Blair Andrews is the editor of Farm Market News, University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. He reports grain prices weekly in Grain Farmers of Ontario’s GrainTALK e-newsletter. l




Public Outreach

Mary Feldskov


CANADIAN CONSUMERS ARE growing increasingly concerned about the cost of food and the affordability of healthy food, according to the 2023 Canadian Centre for Food Integrity's (CCFI) 2023 Public Trust Research Report. The CCFI's annual research project is a national survey of Canadian consumers that aims to track public perceptions about the Canadian food, agriculture, and food system issues; measure public trust in Canada's food, agriculture, and food system stakeholders; and explore attitudes and behaviours on important topics such as food safety, sustainability, and consumer habits. With a large sample size of more than 2,500 Canadians from coast to coast, the CCFI survey is a reliable source of information to help organizations like Grain Farmers of Ontario better understand consumer insights into food and health and help to inform staff who plan, organize, and implement consumer outreach programs like Good in Every Grain, the Grains on the Go Trailer, and Good in Every Classroom.

FOOD COSTS A BIG CONCERN Food costs and affordability continue to be the most important issue for Canadian consumers in the face of inflation, rising interest rates, and high housing costs. More than half (54 per cent) of Canadians surveyed reported that they are extremely concerned about the affordability of foodcompared to a year ago, which was eight points higher than last year, and 28 per cent higher than in 2020. Inflation (48 per cent), health care (44 per cent), housing prices (42 per cent), and the affordability of healthy food (41 per cent) round out the top five issues that consumers are concerned about. To mitigate the impact of the affordability of food, respondents reported that they are adapting their consumer habits in several ways, including reducing food waste (45 per cent of respondents), cooking more meals at home (42 per cent), and buying less food (37 per cent). Other strategies include buying more frozen food, changing grocery stores, buying more food in bulk, and changing the types of recipes they prepare. Fifteen per cent of respondents reported that they skipped meals in response to the rising cost of food. When it comes to purchasing food, price was the most important factor for respondents, followed by quality, freshness, and nutritional value — all of which ranked higher thanin 2022. Convenience and environmental impact ranked lowest; both were less important to consumers than in 2022. PUBLIC TRUST IN FARMING While Canadians are concerned about the cost of food, there is relative stability in their overall perception of Canada's food system — two key indicators have remained unchanged year over year: public trust across most food and agriculture stakeholders and the proportion of Canadians who feel the food system is headed in the right direction —34 per cent feel the food system is headed in the right direction —with 26 percent reporting that things are heading in the wrong direction.

Farmers continue to enjoy a high level of trust among Canadian consumers: 21 per cent of respondents rated farmers as "very trustworthy," with scientists (18 per cent) and university researchers (14 per cent) rounding out the top three most trustworthy groups. Restaurants (six per cent), food processors and manufacturers (5 per cent), and politicians ranked at the bottom of the list. When it comes to specific agricultural practices in crop production, 33 per cent of respondents said they were "very concerned" about the use of pesticides, up from 30 per cent in 2020. Eating food from genetically engineered crops was ranked as "very concerned" for 25 per cent of respondents; however, this response has held relatively steady since 2020. CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABILITY While Canadian's concerns are deeply connected to their pocketbooks, climate change continues to be a top-10 issue for Canadians, ranking seventh out of 22 issues (with 34 per cent providing a ranking of 9 - 10 out of 10). Environmental sustainability in farming falls even further down the list; 22 percent ranked the issues as very concerning. When polled about specific agricultural practices, crop rotation and cover crops to improve soil health was viewed as the most effective farm sustainability practices (60 per cent), followed by automated irrigation systems to reduce water waste and improve crop yields (56 per cent), precision farming to optimize resources and reduce fertilizer and pesticide use (51 per cent), and minimum tillage practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration (38 percent). In the food processing and food retail sectors, reducing packaging and single-use plastics, reducing food waste, and donating surplus food to food banks were among the important issues identified by respondents.


More than half (54 per cent) of Canadians surveyed reported that they are extremely concerned about the affordability of food compared to a year ago.

Curtis says that, for example, knowing that the cost of food is such a big concern for Canadians helps drive public outreach and social media activities, such as developing cost-conscious recipes and helping consumers understand that including grains in their diet can be an economical choice. "We also want to know what concerns Canadians have about farming practices so we can prepare information and resources to help address those concerns,"

USING THE DATA "The CCFI public trust survey results are extremely important when it comes to designing public trust and consumer outreach activities," says Brianne Curtis, public relations specialist at Grain Farmers of Ontario. "We want to know what consumers are thinking and what kinds of choices they are making so that we can develop tools, resources, and information to address their concerns and help them make the best choices when purchasing grain products."

says Curtis, who points to public-facing events that Grain Farmers of Ontario attends, like the Canadian National Exhibition and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair as opportunities to disseminate factual information. "The CCFI data helps us be prepared with answers when visitors come to our booth with questions."

The 2023 CCFI report can be read in its entirety at www.foodintegrity.ca. l

SWAC IN-PERSON JANUARY 4 & 5, 2024 University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus EOCC IN-PERSON JANUARY 16, 2024 Kemptville Campus Centre MWAC IN-PERSON JANUARY 19, 2024 RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex, Waterloo IN-PERSON LOCATIONS OAgC Virtual Kick Off JANUARY 3, 2024 REGISTRATION OPENS: November 1st, 2023



@OAgC24 | #OAgC24




An update on Grain Farmers of Ontario news and events

PARTICIPATE IN THE GREAT LAKES YEN PROJECT Registration is opening soon for the 2024 Great Lakes Yield Enhancement Network (YEN). The Great Lakes YEN is a ground-breaking, cross-border collaboration that connects farmers with agronomists, academics, extension specialists, agricultural organizations, and more. Participants are asked to submit agronomic and field management data, soil and tissue samples, grain and straw samples, and yield and harvest data. YEN partners will provide data analysis of actual yield, crop inputs and lab results, crop modelling of the yield potential for each participant’s field, and a comparison of the actual yield versus yield potential and benchmarking of all participants. Participants will receive a detailed report summarizing a field’s performance and how it compares to the top 10 per cent of high yielding participants, insight into factors contributing to high-yield wheat, and the opportunity to attend multiple networking events throughout the year where participants can meet other wheat farmers, agronomists, and extension staff. Visit www.GreatLakesYEN.com/how-to participate/ to find out more and to sign up. Registration is open from December 4, 2023, to February 2, 2024. Advancing our strong roots: The future is built on the foundation we give it, and Ontario grain farming has deep, strong roots that feed this country’s people and support the success of the agriculture industry. Farmers constantly show their resiliency, their flexibility, and their innovation. In times of challenge, they persevere. They learn from the past, and they invest in the future. The farmers of tomorrow, the one percent who feed the world, will continue to build on these strong roots and show their strength and resilience 2024 MARCH CLASSIC Tuesday, March 19 2024 RBC Place London, Ontario

every season. Grain Farmers of Ontario is a leader because of its strong roots in a strong board, strong team, and the spirit to push through in challenging times and put in the hard work for success. Speakers include Shawn Hackett, Weather trends/outlook and commodities expert; Amanda Lang, Canadian business journalist with BNN Bloomberg; Marshall Sewell, mental health advocate and founder of Mind Your Melon. Find out more at www.gfo.ca/marchclassic. Online registration opens on January 4, 2024. AGRONOMY RESOURCES Grain Farmers of Ontario’s agronomy team has compiled a number of updated agronomic resources, including in-season field observations, agronomy alerts, fact sheets, a winter wheat staging guide, GrainTALK webinars, and more. Visit www.gfo.ca/agronomy to learn more or to contact Grain Farmers of Ontario’s agronomy team with questions or concerns. To be the first to know about any agronomic updates, be sure to subscribe to the weekly Grain Farmers of Ontario GrainTALK e newsletter by visiting www.gfo.ca/graintalk. MARKET COMMENTARY by Philip Shaw On October 12, the United States Department ofAgriculture (USDA) released its latest WASDE report. The USDA lowered the corn yield by 0.8 bushels per acre down to 173 bushels per acre, putting total corn production at 15.064 billion bushels. Soybean production was lowered in the United States by 0.5 bushels per acre versus last month to 49.6 bushels per acre. This would total U.S. soybean production at 4.100 billion. Harvest in Ontario continues to roll along despite uneven rainy weather challenging soybean harvest. Wheat planting has been another challenge especially with the uneven weather conditions. Basis levels have softened as harvest activity has increased. The Canadian dollar fluttering at the 73-cent U.S. level has mitigated the effect on cash prices.


A Q&A with Brendan Byrne, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario.

What did 2023 mean to you?

This is my final year as chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario, and while the last three years have had their trying moments and times of frustration, I am overwhelmingly positive about the work done on behalf of farmers. The Board is made up of smart, passionate advocates who are dedicated to helping grain farmers in Ontario succeed and grow. Our work on fertilizer is second to none — it even won awards for crisis response. We saw boats get cleared, some monies returned through industry partners, funds being made available for fertilizer emission reduction practices and projects, and we continue to fight to have the tariff removed and more funds given directly back to farmers. On the carbon tax file, we were promised — though we have yet to receive — a rebate for at least a small amount of the tax paid on grain drying, which we will remind the government is what is needed to produce viable grains for food and beyond. We pushed for Bill C-234 to give a head start to farmers through an exemption to the carbon tax for on-farm drying, and we continue to push for a full exemption for all grain drying. I have met with hundreds of politicians, travelled across the globe, and given countless media interviews — to ensure we have the right policies in place and the consumer advocacy we need to keep farming successfully in Ontario. I thank everyone for a wonderful three years. • Do you have a question for our chair? Email GrainTALK@gfo.ca.


2024 ANNUAL DISTRICT MEETINGS The date and time of your district meeting has been confirmed and is listed below. Please go to www.gfo.ca for additional meeting details as they become available. Information is subject to change.






Jan 18 9 a.m.

St. John’s Parish Hall County Road 46, Woodslee, ON Director: Brendan Byrne


Jan 17 3 p.m.

Hidden Hills Golf and Country Club 25393 St. Clair Road, Dover Centre, ON - dinner provided Director: Gus Ternoey Wyoming Fair Grounds 595 Main Street, Wyoming, ON - dinner provided Director: Julie Maw

The Annual District Meetings are called to elect voting delegates for the coming year. Directors will be elected in even-numbered districts to serve a two-year term. Updates on our organization and grain industry issues are also provided at these meetings. Meetings will also have a Zoom option. Links to all meetings will be provided at www.gfo.ca and district-specific meeting information will be sent to all farmer-members via a postcard mailer in December. All current Grain Farmers of Ontario farmer-members that attend their January District Meeting will receive a chance to win one of three prizes: Grand Prize: $2,500 CAA travel gift card and one-year CAA premier membership. Two Runner up prizes: Staycation package (includes Grain Farmers of Ontario branded two-seat lawn chair, one Yeti 45 hard sided cooler, two Yeti 473ml Ramblers,and a one-year CAA premier membership).

DISTRICT 3 Lambton

Jan 15 4 p.m.

(registration: 3:45 p.m.)

DISTRICT 4 Middlesex

Jan 18 9 a.m.

Ilderton Community Centre 13168 Ilderton Road, Ilderton, ON Director: Steve Twynstra Malahide Community Place 12105 Whittaker Road, Springfield, ON Director: Scott Persall

NOTE: Venue location has changed

DISTRICT 5 Elgin, Norfolk

Jan 9 9 a.m.

DISTRICT 6 Haldimand, Brant, Hamilton, Niagara

Jan 15 9a.m.

Mutual Room, Riverside Exhibition Centre (Caledonia Fairgrounds) 151 Caithness Street E, Caledonia, ON - lunch provided Director: Jeff Barlow

(registration: 8:30 a.m.)

DISTRICT 7 Waterloo, Oxford

Jan 19 9a.m.

Innerkip Community Centre 695566 17th Line, Innerkip, ON Director: Angela Zilke


Jan 16 9 a.m.

Holmesville Community Centre 180 Community Centre Road, Clinton, ON Director: Keith Black Mitchell Golf and Country Club 81 Frances Street, Mitchell, ON - dinner provided Director: Josh Boersen Clifford Community Hall 2 William Street, Clifford, ON - lunch provided Director: Steve Lake


Jan 17 5:30 p.m.

DISTRICT 10 Grey, Bruce, Wellington

Jan 19 9:30 a.m.

DISTRICT 11 Dufferin, Simcoe, Halton, Peel, York DISTRICT 12 Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings DISTRICT 13 Prince Edward, Lennox, Addington, Frontenac, Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Renfrew, Ottawa DISTRICT 14 Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry

Jan 10 10 a.m.

Faith Community Presbyterian Church 206 Murphy Road, Baxter, ON - farmers lunch/pie provided Director: Leo Blydorp The Best Western Plus 930 Burnham Street, Cobourg, ON Director: Jeff Harrison

NOTE: Venue location has changed

(registration: 9:30 a.m.)

Jan 11 9:30 a.m.

Jan 10 10 a.m. (coffee:

Elgin Lions Club 19 Pineview Drive, Elgin, ON - hot lunch/pie provided Director: Lloyd Crowe

9:30 a.m.)

Jan 9 9a.m.

North Stormont Place 16299 Fairview Drive, Avonmore, ON - lunch provided Director: Scott Fife

DISTRICT 15 Northern Ontario

Jan 11 9a.m.

Kerns Community Hall 279279 Milberta Road, New Liskeard, ON Director: Chuck Amyot




Market Development

Ontario Grain Farmer


THE PAST 20 years have seen their share of disputes among technology users, countries, and trading partners involving various innovations, from transgenics to active ingredients in chemical products, often with corresponding trade issues. The disputes might trigger a resolution through the terms of a trade pact or generate uncertainty as to whether regulatory assessments in one jurisdiction meet with the approval of another. Earlier in 2023, two pieces of legislation were introduced by the European Union (EU), one dealing with maximum residue limits (MRLs) of two insecticidal products and the other with applications of new genomic techniques (NGTs). The MRL regulations, published on February 15, address the use of clothianidin and thiamethoxam, two neonicotinoids (neonics) used in Canada primarily as seed treatments and foliar-applied products. The regulations go into effect on March 7, 2026, giving food companies and trading partners time to adopt the guidelines. The regulations for NGTs were published on July 5. However, there is still a review period, which could take 18 to 24 months. How these rules will unfold for the EU, its member countries, and their respective agri food sectors remains to be seen. Yet the concerns for Canadian growers can be divided into separate channels: the continued use of crop protection products and the long-term determination of NGTs and how those may be regulated in the future. Of the two, the MRL legislation is the more immediate concern for Ontario corn and soybean growers. The rules governing NGTs –including genome editing — are more like moving targets for future consideration. OUR REPUTATION ABROAD For years, Canada has been acknowledged for having one of — if not the — most stringent regulatory systems in the world, including the use of crop protection products. But

ADVOCATES NEEDED Unfortunately, the narrative on such issues can take on a life of its own. Mac Ross, vice president of trade policy and crop protection for the Canada Grains Council, believes this country's efforts in disseminating the EU's policy on MRLs could be helped by scientists responsible for evaluations and approvals. But on a global scale, some sort of critical mass of alignment among Canada's trading partners would also be a step in the right direction. "People probably need to be told about the importance of innovation in agriculture because not everybody gets it," says Ross. "Sometimes it feels like we can have 50 talented people on our side, and all their progress can be undone by two people on social media." Then there is the uncertainty surrounding the use of neonics and their alleged link to falling bee numbers: is bee health more adversely affected by varroa mites, colony collapse disorder, neonic seed treatments, or a combination of those factors? Yet Ross notes that MRLs only apply to products grown in one country and then crossing an ocean or what is in a truck heading to another country. Using MRLs to protect pollinator health — and then assuming other countries will follow suit — is not the proper use of that residue standard. It is the "gatekeeper" on what the maximum trace is that can be found on products being shipped across international borders. "There may not be a direct risk or impact with the current proposal on neonic revocations," he says. "But it's the precedent that the EU would continue to take this approach on additional actives that are vital for Canadian growers. It's really important to be looking at ways to push back on this." GLASS HALF FULL? As far as the new genomic techniques (NGTs) legislationis concerned, there are several "annexes" to the proposed legislation, including

another jurisdiction trying to impose a directive that is not science- or risk-based and intended to curtail technology use in other areas should be questioned. Such restrictions could deter countries from making their own determinations on the use of any technology. "Holistically, Ontario farmers are always concerned at the decisions being made around the world on our ability to grow crops to export and feed a growing population," says Paul Hoekstra, vice president of strategic development with Grain Farmers of Ontario. "Regulatory decisions or policies that impact the ability to access technology to be both economically and environmentally sustainable is a chief concern among our farmers." Regarding the use of neonics, the EU regulations seek to use a food-based protocol like MRLs to impose more of an environmentally based standard, not just on the European mainland but in other countries around the world. Some may view that as a means of setting guidelines for doing business with EU members. However, if the EU is allowed to misuse MRLs to determine which active ingredient can or cannot be used by non EU farmers, it is unlikely this approach will be limited to neonics only and could instead result in added restrictions placed on the use of other chemistries, including glyphosate. These issues are emotionally charged, yet they are complex scientific discussions and discoveries, and a country has to ensure it is making the best decisions for the safety of the food its people are consuming. "We're seeing a divergence between how the EU has made its regulatory decisions," says Hoekstra. "In the EU, for example, pollinator assessments are incredibly conservative — based on overly protective models and assumptions. That versus how Health Canada has looked at the data in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and made a different type of framework and how it evaluates risk to pollinators in a more pragmatic but still protective manner."


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