This Week on RealAg — The Railway Edition



First, an apology. Eagle-eyed RealAgriculture readers will note that this column was absent last week. After three days at FarmTech ’14 there was more than enough to share, but no time to do it, so I’ll work some of last week into this, if you don’t mind.

It’s no secret I like trains. Furthermore, I am rather fascinated and enthralled by logistics and supply systems. That is, until they fail miserably, like our Canadian system is in the west. I’ve been following along, watching and wondering how on earth we’re going to grind our way through this mess, and listened carefully as ag minister Gerry Ritz announced this week further expectations of reporting to government, which seems positive, but then, when it seemed things couldn’t get worse, CN’s Teamsters union threatened to strike. What a week!

An emergency debate over rail woes was held in parliament mid-week lasted for over four hours (follow along with Kelsey Johnson’s reporting on Twitter (@JohnsonThree). It’s enlightening as to how little most of us understand the complexities of the system), more than a few are calling for the removal or a temporary change to the revenue cap and still others are claiming the CWB’s monopoly would have saved us this year. Poppycock, I say, (and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall agrees with me) but we’ll get in to that a little later.


The U.S. Farm Bill is expected to be signed into law today in the White House, much to the chagrin of our beef and pork sectors. (There’s a simply breakdown in this article of the five winners and losers.) Shaun Haney and DTN’s Chris Clayton sat down to discuss what’s in the bill and how it may impact U.S. farmers and our trade. Debra Murphy was at the Saskatchewan Ag Trade Summit this week and got thoughts from Premier Brad Wall and Ag Minister Gerry Ritz on the topic as well.

And then there’s two very pressing issues in Ontario that we are following and will continue to follow for the foreseeable future. One, the PEDv crisis in the hog industry. As of this morning, a total of nine farms have been confirmed to have the disease, plus the virus has been found in three other locations. The provincial government announced on Tuesday an emergency funding intake for up to $20,000 in cost-share expenses to deal with this devastating disease. Farmers must act quickly, however, as the funding intake is only open until March 13, 2014.

Secondly, there’s the concern for bee health and the impact that dusting off of neonicotinoid seed treatment products have on bees. I had the pleasure of speaking at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association annual general meeting at London, Ont., and, following my presentation got the latest from a 2013 study that looked at dusting off risks and neonic residue travel. Tracey Baute and Art Schaafsma did a great job of explaining each of the required beneficial management practices farmers must do for 2014 — failing to do so risks the PMRA removing approval of these seed treatment products, full stop. To that end, OSCIA is coordinating a trial to generate brand new data to quantify the value of these products. We need 100-plus sites of corn and soy, planted to a strip trial of neonic and non-neonic treated seed — contact your county rep and get involved. Failure to do so may mean these products are not available for 2015. It’s that serious. Click here for more information.

Until next week,


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