Newly formed Grain Farmers of Ontario focused on the future at inaugural March conference

GUELPH, ON (March 15, 2010) – Grain Farmers from across Ontario gathered in London Ontario on March 8th and 9th for the inaugural conference of the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO).  Farmers met to discuss mutual issues of importance, debate policy resolutions and hear from keynote speakers on topics related to the future of farming.

For the immediate future, the direction from delegates through 4 separate resolutions, is to pursue a permanent, fully funded Risk Management Program in Ontario supported by both levels of government.  The Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Carol Mitchell, spoke at the banquet Monday night supporting our endeavors by recognizing the current suite of business risk management are not meeting the needs of producers and that she is carrying that message to her colleagues at the provincial Cabinet table and has carried it to the federal Minister of Agriculture on behalf of Ontario farmers.

The urgency for stability in the agricultural sector through programs like the RMP was underscored when keynote speakers Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large for the National Post and Jay Ingram, Host of Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, forecasted uncertainty ahead both for the world economy and the environment.  Cal Whewell, financial expert for FC Stone also has concerns about the future including commodity prices and the Canadian dollar.  When asked about the Canadian dollar Cal advised, “if you’re in the camp of $85 plus or $100 crude oil then you probably better prepare yourself for a par Canadian dollar”.

Despite the broad challenges identified for the year ahead, Grain Farmers of Ontario is excited about the opportunities for farmers especially in the areas of research and market development.  Barry Senft outlined some of GFO’s plans for 2010 including an investment of over $3.6 million in grain research through industry, government and farm partnerships and recent collaborations with industry to expand the domestic market opportunities for ethanol, wheat and soy-based bio-products.

Don Kenny, Chair of GFO, is positive about his first conference experience as Chair saying, “the real value of the conference was the guidance we received from our delegates and the conversations we will continue to have with our members as a result of the learning from today.”

All of the information from the conference including speaker presentations and resolutions are available on our website at www.gfo.ca and click on March Conference under Events.  

Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

Contact:

Barry Senft, CEO – 1-800-265-0550; bsenft@gfo.ca

Trent research funds total $4.25 million

GUELPH, ON (March 4, 2010)GFO was the first to offer support for Trent University’s Center for Knowledge in the Environment pledging $500,000 for biomaterials research and development. A powerful domino effect has resulted from this initial funding with government and private contributions now in excess of $4.25 million.

Most recently, Dr. Suresh Narine, the champion of this initiative, was awarded one of two $1.25 million Ontario Research Chairs in Green Chemistry and Engineering by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) Ontario Research Chairs Selection Panel.  As Ontario Research Chair, Dr. Narine will receive funding of $250,000 a year for five years from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

GFO holds two seats on the Trent University Biomaterials Research Advisory Council (RAC) to provide direction on future research projects. GFO will also be allocated a percentage of any commercialization royalties resulting from these projects. All money received from royalties will be reinvested in biomaterial research and development.

The Trent program will have a big pay-off for soybean growers. “A key focus of the research is to establish new markets for soybean oil, particularly in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and lubricant industries” says Dale Petrie, VP Strategic Development at GFO. “Through segmentation of specialty-trait soybeans, value and demand for specific oil profiles will increase, leading to identity preserved (IP) premiums in the price per bushel.” 

The current operating money for the program is more than eight times the initial GFO funding. GFO congratulates Trent University and Dr. Narine for this accomplishment and is excited to learn new, innovative uses for soybean based bio-products.

Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

Contact:

Barry Senft, CEO – 1-800-265-0550; bsenft@gfo.ca

Grain Farmers of Ontario and Weetabix partner to promote awareness of Ontario wheat

GUELPH, ON (March 2, 2010) – Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) and Weetabix have joined forces to increase awareness of Ontario wheat. The initiative is in line with regional marketing efforts for Ontario foods, encouraging more residents and businesses to buy locally grown products.

Weetabix is a 100% Ontario grown and manufactured product. 25% of the wheat used comes directly from Northumberland County where their Cobourg manufacturing plant is located. Of particular importance, the cereal provides an excellent market for Ontario spring wheat.

“We have been a strong supporter of local farmers since 1978. Whenever possible, Weetabix will continue to use crops grown close to home to provide Canadian consumers with healthy, whole grain cereal choices,” says Jeff Bakker, VP of Finance for Weetabix Canada.

Many promotional initiatives have already been implemented. From November to January, the company ran a multi-media promotion across the Greater Toronto Area, including in-store sampling events, radio and billboard advertising, and branding the people-powered 'Eco-Cabs' in downtown Toronto. Additional initiatives are in development and will be revealed over the upcoming months.

“The collaboration between GFO and Weetabix will increase awareness, and ideally consumption, of mostly Ontario spring wheat and some winter wheat. We foresee great opportunities resulting from this partnership in the future,” says Barry Senft, Chief Executive Officer of GFO.

Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

Contact:

Barry Senft, CEO – 1-800-265-0550; bsenft@gfo.ca