Grain Farmers of Ontario: officially Ontario’s new marketing board

Guelph, OntarioOntario’s corn, soybean and wheat farmers will have a strong and unified voice in the province beginning January 1, 2010 with the inauguration of Grain Farmers of Ontario.

An interim board of directors will be appointed by the province to oversee the GFO’s operations until the completion of regional elections in early February.  The elected board of directors for Grain Farmers of Ontario will be in place by early March 2010 and will focus initially on policy development and business planning.

“GFO will ensure our members have a strong voice on provincial and national issues as well as offering programs and services that add value to their businesses,” says Barry Senft, CEO of Grain Farmers of Ontario.  

GFO will build upon the strength of our farmer members and our heritage organizations to take a leadership role in marketing, market development and advocacy.  The new organization will work with farmers to get the most out of their high quality crops through innovative research and policy development.

For GFO to be successful right out of the gate, it is important for all members to shape and direct the organization by participating in the upcoming January meetings and elections.  There will be an opportunity for dialogue with executive staff and to elect the political leaders of GFO at these meetings to ensure the organization is built from the ground up.  Check the website at www.gfo.ca or the Ontario Grain Farmer magazine for regional meeting dates.

This merger of Ontario’s corn, soybean and wheat organizations will position GFO as the largest provincial commodity board representing 28,000 farmers and five million acres of farmland that generate $2.2 billion in farm gate receipts, over $9 billion in economic output and 40,000 jobs.

The soy house lands in Acton

November 18, 2009 (Acton, ON) – What do household insulation, mattress foam and kitchen cabinets all have in common?  Soybeans! Yes Soybeans. The Soy House, the feature exhibit at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair enabled visitors to experience how soy can be used as an environmentally-friendly, sustainable replacement to petroleum oil in many household products. The house demonstrates the emerging soy market in Ontario and showcases the complete soybean value chain, from agricultural roots to people’s homes. By partnering with Quality Homes and Habitat for Humanity Halton, the first-ever Soy House has landed in Acton for a Habitat partner family to call home.

The commercial uses of soy are made possible by separating soybeans into two distinct and equally useful parts.  When crushed, 80 percent of the bean becomes high protein soy meal, which is used for human and animal consumption, while the remaining 20 percent becomes soy oil, which can be used as bio-fuels and as a sustainable replacement to petroleum oil. “The use of soy as a renewable alternative to petrochemicals enables the development of a wide array of greener, eco-friendly products for consumers,” said Dale Petrie, Director of Strategic Development and Innovation, Grain Farmers of Ontario.

A deserving Habitat family will benefit from living in the Soy House, which will have lower energy costs and features soy-based structural components, thereby reducing harmful off-gases, in everything from No-VOC paints and varnishes, adhesives, household insulation, kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures. “The partnership with Habitat for Humanity Halton was a natural fit as we showcase the benefits of using soy. Ontario soybean farmers and our partners are committed to volunteering with Habitat to complete the house, ensuring the partner family is able to move in as early as possible” continues Petrie.

“Ontario soybean farmers’ unique partnership with Habitat for Humanity Halton and Quality Homes has helped provide another family in the Halton region with a safe, decent, affordable place to live,” says Lynn Fergusson, Interim Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Halton. “This unique partnership is proof of what can be done when passion, dedication and resources are pooled together, to truly make a difference in the community.”

“Quality Homes is proud to have partnered with Ontario’s soybean farmers to bring The Soy House to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and to Habitat for Humanity Halton,” says Howard Sher, Executive Vice-President, Quality Homes. “As custom home builders, we are always looking for new and innovative products and suppliers. The project has certainly introduced us to a range of environmentally-friendly, soy-based companies.”

Over the coming weeks all partners with join the selected family in completing the remaining work in order turn over the keys to their new home.

Successful risk management program needs vote of confidence from provincial and federal governments

GUELPH – Ontario Grains & Oilseeds appreciates the leadership shown by Ontario’s McGuinty government in 2007 when the pilot Risk Management Program (RMP) was launched. But with the three-year pilot period about to expire this year, it is time for the provincial government to continue its leadership role in protecting the viability of the family farm and make RMP permanent. It is also time for the federal government to come to the table in support of provincial business risk management programs.

RMP is a price support program for grain and oilseed producers to offset losses caused by low commodity prices created by global subsidies, and volatility in world markets and currency rates. Payments are triggered when prices for grains and oilseeds fall below a specific support level based on a cost-of-production formula.

RMP is currently a partnership between the province and producers and similar to an insurance program, with both partners contributing to the program.  “After eight years of depressed world prices prior to 2007, RMP has fulfilled its mandate of providing an element of long-term stability and the ability to plan for the future,” says Leo Guilbeault, Chair of Ontario Grains & Oilseeds.

The RMP pre-harvest payments are scheduled to be mailed beginning November 23 for the 2009 forward-contract period.  Producers will receive a payment on corn this year of $0.144 per bushel at the 100 per cent coverage level (adjusted for the 40 per cent provincial contribution from $0.36).  Producers are currently working to bring the federal government on board as partners in RMP at the federal rate of 60 per cent.

RMP is a critical pillar in supporting a multi-billion dollar industry that feeds Ontario cities and keeps our rural communities thriving. 

Ontario’s grains and oilseeds producers strongly encourage the province to make the program permanent and for the federal government to come to the table as partners, as we do not want to go back to a system where we stumble from crisis to crisis with emergency aid announcements that cost the government more in the end,” Mr. Guilbeault said.

Ontario Grains & Oilseeds represents over 25,000 farm families growing soybeans, wheat, corn, canola and edible beans from Ottawa to Windsor.  Our labour and innovation brings in nearly $3 Billion a year in food and biofuel products, the backbone of rural communities throughout Ontario.  The spin-off industries bring in over $10 Billion per year.  There has even been some speculation that Agriculture could once again become the number one industry in Ontario with the downsizing of the auto sector.

For more information on the RMP, please visit Agricorp’s webpage: http://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/programs/rmp/#market_prices