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Standing Committee Reports



AgScapeJohn Poel

AgScape’s vision is a world where the agri-food sector is recognized as a vehicle for positive social, economic, and environmental impact and its mission is to empower Ontario’s over 200,000 students with impartial and accurate information to increase awareness of the agri-food system and ignite interest in related careers. Because there is a lack of consumer awareness about food and farming practices with almost no agriculture in the Ontario curriculum, AgScape works to dispel myths and increase interest and connection to food. Ontario’s AgScape is one of the ten provincial members of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC-C) which is a cross-country team that strives to deliver programs, resources, and initiatives that engage, empower, and inspire with accurate, balanced, and current information that is based on science.

AgScape celebrated 30 years of leading food and agriculture education at the 2021 AGM which had a theme of “Thriving in a Changing World”. Minister Hardeman announced OMAFRA’s commitment of support by investing $400,000 to AgScape.

During this past year the Teacher Ambassador lessons were expanded to enhance student knowledge of climate change and environmental impact through the lens of agriculture. Final tallies from 2020 showed resource requests were met from over 5,000 educators delivering over 35,000 resources provincially and providing students with over 409,000 engagements. Staff adapted to school’s quadmester rotations as well as moved to bringing experts in virtually.

Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC-C), along with its ten member organizations announced the national expansion of The Business of Food (BOF) thanks to a $450,000 multi-year partnership from Bayer Crop Science Canada and matching funding from the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP) program. Business of Food is a comprehensive e-learning platform aimed at bringing knowledge about food and agriculture to education professionals – the majority of which come from urban areas. 

AgScape staff continue to partner with Ontario commodity organizations to develop teaching resources.

They’re working with Ontario Bean Growers to launch a new teachers guide on the innovations of dry bean farming. This should be available as a part of Canadian agricultural literacy month for students in grades four to ten – highlighting the many opportunities in the bean agrifood sector such as bean breeders, weed scientists, plant pathologists.

AgScape is partnering with the Egg Farmers of Ontario to introduce a curriculum-linked egg resource, “An Exploration of Egg Farming in Ontario“, a teacher guide for grades K-8. The guide includes themes such as the farm to table process of egg farming, the nutrients of eggs as part of a healthy diet as well as careers linked to the egg farming industry.

Ontario Pork, together with AgScape, launched a 68-page resource which contains an overview of pig farming with three grade appropriate lesson plans with useful resources for Ontario educators. Topics include the history of pig farming, pig production and terminology, pig farming and the Canadian economy, human nutrition and health, pig farming and the environment, as well as others.

Through a partnership with Beef Farmers of Ontario, a new teacher’s guide has been completed – “An Exploration of Beef Farming in Ontario”. Lesson plans include showing how coding, math, and design can play an important role in understanding nutrition and the health and well-being of beef cattle. This guide highlights “the great story there is to tell when it comes to beef” as it relates to the environment, animal care, human nutrition and careers within this sector.



Crop Stop – Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show 2021 – Steve Sickle

By Cathy Dibble, RCC Thames Valley

Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, in partnership with OSCIA, was pleased to present Crop Stop at the show site in September. The two-day event gave producers the opportunity to tour demo plots and talk agronomy with various input companies, see the latest and greatest machinery on display from several equipment suppliers, visit with many exhibitors and check out the OSCIA new demonstration trailer in action. The focus of Crop Stop was to bring the industry back together for in-person networking highlighting technology and new innovation in the cropping sector.

Eleven crop input companies were keen to establish plots at the site last spring, and eager to share their agronomic knowledge with producers in small group or one-on-one settings. Each company kicked off the morning with presentations to small groups touring the stops at the show, and then were able to engage with producers one-on-one as the day progressed. Equipment suppliers were happy to be able to bring new equipment lines and technology out to the event for growers to see and kick tires once again.

The Mobile Soil Technology Suite trailer includes a large, weatherproof LED screen, sound system including speakers and wireless microphones, digital cameras, and weigh scales. The trailer will be made available to OSCIA associations and other organizations across the province on a cost recovery basis and will include transport to events and technicians to operate the equipment. OSCIA was pleased to demonstrate the equipment for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Honorable Lisa Thompson, during the event.

While the weather was not overly favourable for the two days of the show, it was still very much a social outing for many. Producers enjoyed the opportunity to get out, network with each other, and chat with the exhibitors at the event. OSCIA has had, and continues to have a long, strong working relationship with the Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show team and were proud partners for Crop Stop 2021.

 


Farm & Food Care Ontario Year in Review – Eleanor Renaud

By Amber Anderson, Communications Manager, Farm & Food Care Ontario

Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO) appreciates the continued support of members like the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) which enables the organization to continue the important work of building public trust in Ontario agriculture.

With the ongoing COVID-19 realities of 2021, Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO) continued to reimagine many of its traditional outreach programs and create new opportunities to engage with consumers both online and through in person events with pandemic protocols in place.  With large followings on social media and strong website platforms, FFCO is able to extend its outreach programming, making 2021 a remarkably successful year, despite the complicated circumstances.

Training and Workshops

FFCO supports member groups, farmers and the broader agricultural industry through a variety of speaker services and training. In 2021, this included 36 presentations and 12 virtual Speak Up and media training courses designed to help participants effectively engage with the public or media.

COMMUNICATIONS & OUTREACH

The Real Dirt on Farming

The fifth edition of The Real Dirt on Farming received several industry communications awards in 2021. From the Canadian Agricultural Marketing Awards, the publication received a Best of CAMA in the category of Company or Industry-Funded Marketing Tactic Directed at the General Public. It was also recognized with two prestigious Gold awards presented by the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF).

The Real Dirt on Farming was supported by commodity groups and agribusinesses across Canada and covers topics such as GMOs, pesticide use, farming and the environment, and the growing of many crops. 32 career profiles are featured, including a fruit and vegetable grower, a pulses grower, a potato farmer, and a canola farmer. A new, interactive website (www.RealDirtonFarming.ca) provides opportunities for digital learning and content sharing.

A supplementary Teachers’ Guide created in partnership with Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC) was distributed in 2021 to AITC partner groups across Canada.

In addition, the magazine has been shared with Canadian Registered dietitians, Ontario MPPs and municipal leaders, MPs and Senators from across the country, and was distributed through 211,000 Post Media newspapers across the country.

Breakfast From the Farm

Working with partners at the Ottawa Valley Seed Growers Association and Carp Fair, the Lindsay Exhibition and the Western Fair District in London, three drive-through Breakfast on the Farm events gave 1,000 carloads of families the chance to meet Ontario farmers and see livestock, crop and equipment displays up close. At the end of each event, they received a breakfast bag full of local, Ontario products like fresh fruits and vegetables, pancake mix and maple syrup, eggs, milk, cheese, bacon or sausage and more to make their own breakfasts at home.

Virtual Food & Farm Field Trips

FFCO and AgScape continued a successful partnership 2021, offering a series of 26 livestreamed farm tours, including horticulture and grain crops as well as livestock operations, research and food processing facilities which reached a staggering audience of 269,000. These field trips gave viewers, including students and teachers, to connect with farmers in real-time. FFCO and AgScape will continue to offer these tours throughout 2022.

Faces Behind Food 

Faces Behind Food social media campaign continues to highlight the diversity of people and career opportunities within the Canadian agri-food system. A total of 104 people were profiled in 2021.

Garden in a Box

FFCO concluded its pilot season of a new initiative called Garden in a Box. This program seeks to build common ground between farmers and Ontario consumers through growing food together with farmers and food professionals across Ontario.  In the spring of 2021, 500 participants of the sold out program received a box of seeds, gardening gloves, a gardening journal and connection to an online community of individuals and families across Ontario gardening together, many for the first time. 537 people joined our community online, participating in sessions related to all things gardening (and farming) including soil health, integrated pest management and crop rotation and received information and support for their gardening efforts. It will be continued in 2022.

FarmFood360°

With teachers and students continuing online learning in 2021 and agricultural organizations seeking to connect with consumers virtually, www.FarmFood360.ca welcomed a million visitors to 22 farms and food processing facilities in 2021 and added four new tours. In February of 2022, a new educator resource will be available on the website to accommodate requests from many teachers across Canada wondering how they can use the VR site in their classroom teachings.

Virtual food influencer outreach

FFCO again used the virtual space to connect with its target audience of food influencers. Working with Farm & Food Care offices in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, the groups hosted three winter webinars on topics related to food labelling, COVID-19’s effect on food service and international food trends. In November, FFCO again partnered with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to host a virtual version of the annual Food & Nutrition Forum and connect with 215 attendees from the same target audience. Topics included reducing food waste, agricultural sustainability and a panel discussion on agricultural migrant workers.

TO LEARN MORE

To learn more about all of FFCO’s initiatives, visit www.FarmFoodCareON.org and subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter. Comments and questions can always be directed to FFCO staff directly at info@farmfoodcare.org 



Ontario Certified Crop Advisors Association – Warren Schneckenburger

This is my first year representing OSCIA on the CCA board taking over from Stuart Wright. It has been a year of learning a new organization and one that I really didn’t know what they do. The main focus of the group is to administer the testing and certification of CCA’s across the province, but through the many active committees’ directors strive to enrich the activities of the CCA community.

The research committee has been working on how the CCA association could contribute to implementing the Plan drafted by the Soil Action Group. Since this action plan has the potential to influence government, the committee feels that continued involvement with the Soil Action group is best for CCA’s.

I’m sure any of you that participate on twitter noticed this fall that many CCA’s across the province added the CCA-ON to their twitter handle. This wasn’t by accident but a very successful marketing campaign with a dangling carrot incentive of a prize and acclaim to be presented at the CCA conference in January. 

Likely the most fascinating part of the CCA board is the mentorship committee. This year 2 young CCA’s were tasked with researching areas of their interest, Justin Brennan studied Western and Northern Corn Rootworm and learning from 88 sites across the province. Ashley Knapton is studying Gender/Inclusion policies in ag organizations. A larger percentage of graduates of the OAC are female, yet far more men are CCA’s. She presented on policies other organizations, like the Beef Farmers, have implemented and is working to develop Statements for the CCA website and suggests that the next strategic plan include discussions on gender equality and inclusion.

This coming year the CCA’s are hitting the road, with a planned bus trip to Eastern Ontario! 6 tour stops are planned at local farms. The bus will pickup in 3 locations across Southern and Central Ontario on route to the east.  



Ontario Forage Council – Birgit Martin

The Ontario Forage Council (OFC) organized 2 successful sets of virtual forums in 2021: Profitable Pastures in March, and Forage Focus in December. There are 5 Profitable Pastures talks archived on the OFC website (https://onforagenetwork.ca/ontario-forage-council/profitable-pastures/). There are 3 videos from Forage Focus available on the OFC’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmmHCjj6bbtsFcc49KYW7Qg­). 

Some members of the Ontario Forage Council worked with OMAFRA in early 2021 to review chapters of the new Publication 30 Forage Production. Several members are also involved with a committee that is designing an online forage selection tool based on the Western Canadian Forage U Pick tool. The tool is being reworked to specify Eastern Canadian zones, species and field selection characteristics.

On October 29 2021 the Mapleseed Pasture Competition winner was announced. The winners are Brad and Karen Davis from Leeds County. Read about their sheep operation and the award at https://onforagenetwork.ca/2021/11/01/leeds-county-farmer-receives-ontario-sheep-pasture-award/.



Ontario Professional Agri-Contractors Association (OPACA) – John Poel

The Ontario Professional Agri-Contractors Association (OPACA) represent and support Ontario’s agri-contractors. Its members are committed to environmental and social responsibility, leading the industry in best business practices and the adoption of technology. The association works with government, farm lobby and commodity organizations, and act as a representative for specific concerns related to transportation, labour & environmental regulations, and agricultural support programs. It advocates for OMAFRA’s Custom Rates Survey for Ontario contractors and developed its own to help gauge the ongoing needs of its membership.

OPACA also hosts events for agri-contractors across the province to meet each other, learning and sharing experiences to improve their own businesses as well as promoting members to farmers at trade shows and conferences, and with the online business directory to link members to potential customers.

OPACA just recently hosted the “Making the Most of Manure” series—a three day virtual event. Last month the virtual gathering was Allen “Talking Tires”—an event discussing pros & cons of tires—LSW’s & others, tracks, as well as central tire inflation systems. This past year also included a live, in person, “Shop Drop-In” event at Ten Hoves Custom Farming’s new workshop. 

For the Manure Expo this past August there were two workshops recorded with OPACA members to contribute towards the Expo: “Determining costs” and “Equipment modifications”.

Over 200 Ontario farmers attended online workshops on the value of manure, which took place in early February for “The Scoop on … Manure” series—part of a Timing Matters initiative, a five-part series involved various commodity organizations (including OSCIA). The series was hosted by OPACA and focused on dairy, beef, poultry, hog and municipal organics. Each event’s panel included a farmer, an agronomist, and a manure applicator. The workshops included plenty of audience engagement as farmers got more comfortable with the online platform.

This past year OPACA also hosted the “To Spray or Not to Spray?” virtual event where stakeholders were brought to the table for a candid discussion about spray drift with an agronomist who has seen first-hand the results of off-target movement of crop protection products.

The upcoming virtual OPACA annual general meeting on March 9th 2022 will include a  lineup of speakers as well as a panel discussion on the health & safety procedures for contractors.



Ontario Soil Network (OSN) – Warren Schneckenburger

The OSN had a tremendously successful year operating though the pandemic. The 2021 cohort was smaller than usual at only 10, but they were the right 10 and really thrived in the online only learning environment. Many ‘Let’s Talk Soil’ and ‘Take 5’ meetings were virtually held throughout the year and each one seemed to drum up a lot of participants. Instead of an in-person one weekend event the cohort met weekly for several weeks to learn from guest speakers and really hone in on what they wanted to get out of the Soil Network experience.    

Many projects were highlighted in the new Ontario Soil Network roadshow App! Users of the app could make virtual tours of on farm research plots with several video, photo, or written updates throughout the growing season. The app tracked your usage and featured a scoreboard of participants who were competing to be the biggest soil health keener in the province. Physical signs were placed on roadsides next to plots or demonstrations with a QR code that a passersby could scan to learn more about what they were seeing.  

The 2022 cohort has just begun their virtual learning experience and thus far comments have been very popular though all hope to be able to enjoy in person events as this year progresses. 36 participants make up the 2022 cohort and I look forward to watching them engage in the network.



Soil Conservation Council of Canada – Steve Sickle

OSCIA stepped back from their membership in this organization in 2021



Ontario Ag Conference Committee – Phil Oegema

The Ontario Ag Conference managed to pull off yet another great event despite all the challenges of the pandemic. The Steering committee met on a regular basis throughout the fall with high-level planning for the conference, while the program committee and conference staff did excellent work of developing the speaker program, coordinating logistics, managing registrations, and securing sponsorship for the event. The conference was both a mix of live speakers and panels along with prerecorded sessions. These sessions are available on demand on the ontarioagconference.ca website.

Congrats to the program committee and all those who provided their talents and dedication to make the conference one of the leading agricultural events in North America.