The Joint Economic Development Initiative’s Ag Forum gathered a packed house at the Best Western Inn Nov. 23 to hear the latest farm news.
JEDI’s full-day event featured a number of agriculture experts discussing cutting-edge issues and opportunities for producers.
After greetings from County of Wetaskiwin reeve Terry Van de Kraats and councilor Josh Bishop (Ag Service Board), the day of speakers began.
Ross Foulston, veterinarian from Wetaskiwin Veterinary Hospital spoke on “Antimicrobial regulations and Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship.” Foulston noted some new changes are coming into Play Dec. 1 regarding access to antibiotics and vaccines, including less accessibility at lay markets.
He said the changes are geared toward addressing antibiotic-resistant strains of microorganisms. Foulston said antibiotics are still available to producers, but producers should focus on the proper drug and the proper dosage.
Dan Orchard, Agronomy Specialist, Central Alberta North, Canola Council of Canada spoke about “Canola production challenges & opportunities.”
Orchard began by explaining the serious effect the weed clubroot can have on its target crop canola: extremely detrimental. With 50 million soccer fields worth of canola being grown in Canada, clubroot is a problem producers should be paying attention to.
Clubroot attacks canola plants by blocking inner tubes, and Alberta probably has the worst problem in the country noted Orchard.
He said clubroot spores spread in dirt that’s carried on machinery. Even boots and ATVs can spread it. He said cleaning equipment is a great way to prevent clubroot’s spread, plus a two-year break in planting canola.
Reg Shandro, mediator and advisor for Farmacist Advisory Services Inc. was the keynote speaker and gave a presentation called “We’ve Got to Do Something”: Facing your Farm Transfer Fears.
Shandro gave the audience a detailed look into the issues that face producers who want to transfer their family farm; he noted only about 8.4 per cent of producers have a succession plan.
He noted younger members of the family should be welcomed into the operation around age 27. Shandro also gave anecdotes illustrating that as emotion goes up, intelligence goes down. He reminded producers to remember the importance of family bonds. “The cows aren’t coming to your funeral,” said Shandro.
He closed by asking, “What do you want your legacy to look like?”
Bernie Grumpelt, MSC, nutritionist at Wetaskiwin Co-op spoke on “What is new with Country Junction Feeds at Wetaskiwin Co-op?”
He said Wetaskiwin Co-op/Country Junction feeds recently completed a $3.5 million expansion.
He also discussed the product “DeStress,” which can have a large effect on reducing stress on livestock that are in transit. He said “DeStress” has a lot of science behind it.
Harry Brook, Crop Specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre spoke on “The growth of herbicide resistance in weeds & integrated weed management.”
Brook stated the number of species of weeds resistant to herbicides is increasing. “It is definitely a real problem,” said Brook, noting herbicide resistant weeds are considered one of the biggest problems facing producers.
Brook said the problem is generally traced to overuse of herbicide. There are about 16 species of weeds resistant to herbicide and their footprint is growing.
Some suggestions to avoid or delay such weeds is to rotate herbicides and use crop rotation.
Shannon Argent, Technology Access Centre Manager, Olds College spoke on “You can’t improve what you don’t measure – data measurement plan to measure your beef operations performance.”
Argent pointed out in several anecdotes how important it is, especially in the post-BSE world, to keep accurate farm records. She said producers can do it with a notebook or a computer, it doesn’t matter.
Recordkeeping can increase efficiency in increments: cutting 5 per cent in input costs could yield a $50 increase per head per year. She noted updated records could benefit producers as new programs come out in the future.
Apply for programs
Mike Hittinger, Stewardship Extension Specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry spoke on “Learn what is available through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP) and Farm Energy & Agri-Processing (FEAP) Programs.”
Hittinger, who is also a cow-calf producer himself, introduced the crowd to several programs available to producers.
He said the Canadian Agricultural Partnership has many parts producers can take advantage of. Some programs involve reducing contaminants, grazing management, manure/livestock facilities and waste management.
Producers should go online and check www.cap.alberta.ca to learn more.
New grain terminal
G3 Canada Ltd. Also gave a brief update on the construction of their new grain terminal on Hwy. #2A.