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BUSINESS NEWS

Cavendish Farms To Construct New Potato Processing Plant

Cavendish Farms is expanding its business in Lethbridge, Alta., with the construction of a new frozen potato processing plant. A total of 287 acres of land in the Sherring Industrial Park on the north side has been sold to Cavendish Farms for $7.9 million. The company is planning on investing $350 million in the new potato processing plant, to replace its current, aging plant, which will more than double its annual production. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2017 and be completed by summer 2019. The new plant will allow Cavendish Farms to more than double its annual production capacity to meet growing demand and will be more efficient, reducing the carbon footprint.

P.E.I.’s Borden-Carleton Inspection Station Closes

The P.E.I. Potato Board closed its inspection station in Borden-Carleton on Jan. 31. The facility opened in 1999 and was responsible for taking samples of potatoes before they went to the Canadian marketplace and tested them for quality and packaging standards. The facility also handled trade issues. But a lot of that work is now done on farms or at packaging facilities. Three full-time jobs and a seasonal position will be eliminated.

EarthFresh Farms Acquires Grand Bend Produce

EarthFresh Farms announced the acquisition of the assets of Grand Bend Produce, a Southwestern Ontario-based fresh potato business. The acquisition further enhances EarthFresh’s ability to offer premium fresh potatoes to both existing and future customers. A family owned and operated business for more than 50 years, Grand Bend Produce is a natural fit for EarthFresh to step in and carry on their passion for potatoes. EarthFresh will continue to operate the current facility and remodel over time.

Canadian Potato Production in 2016

At the end of November 2016, Statistics Canada released Canadian potato production statistics. Overall, potato production in Canada was up over 2015.

Specifically:

  • Potato production was 105.2 million hundredweight (4.7 million tonnes) in 2016, up 0.5 per cent from 2015.
  • Production in British Columbia increased 41.8 per cent to 315.0 hundredweight per acre.
  • Ontario, which experienced extreme summer heat and drought, saw production and yield fall 17.2 per cent compared with a year earlier.
  • Harvested area edged down 0.2 per cent from 2015.
  • In 2016, Prince Edward Island represented 24.5 per cent of total potato production and Manitoba 21.3 per cent.

Shortage of Canadians Working in Agriculture to Double by 2025

The gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This is a key finding of Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC). The research also revealed that primary agriculture has the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent. The agriculture industry has been encouraging young people and workers from other sectors to get into agriculture as a career. Despite extensive efforts, gaps still exist and there still will be a large void in the future. Labour shortages create risks to farmers who can only hope they will have the same or greater access to both domestic and foreign workers in the future as they do now. The study examined only primary production; agri-food industries such as food and beverage processors or input suppliers, which have additional labour demands, were not considered in the research.

Brexit’s Effect on the Potato Industry

On June 23, 2016, the British people were given the choice “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European or leave the European Union?” Of the 33.5 million people who voted, 51.9 per cent chose to leave with 48.1 per cent wanting to remain. It was a result that shocked many, and will have massive implications for both the UK and the European Union and will impact on the potato industry. Along with Germany, the UK is the EU’s largest potato market consuming more than six million tons of potatoes and potato products every year. With harvests of around 5.5 million tons a year, the UK does not produce enough potatoes to fulfill its own needs importing the equivalent of more than two million tons of potatoes a year making it one of the most important potato markets in the world. It is likely the UK will remain in the EU until spring 2019. Up to that date, there will be no change in the relationship between the UK and the EU, so trade will be able to flow freely between the country and the other 27 EU states with citizens of those countries also able to move freely. Much of the next two years will be taken up by negotiating the relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit, with a focus on two key areas – trade and the movement of people and labour.

Idaho Potato Outlook Brighter in 2017

For Idaho growers looking for a bright spot in 2017, potatoes might be that crop — if potatoes are already part of the rotation. Though Idaho and Washington are still the leading potato growing states, Idaho’s share has been slowly diminishing over time. Back in 1990, when Idaho growers planted 405,000 acres of potatoes, the Gem State represented 32 to 33 percent of the nation’s entire potato acres. But in 2015, when growers planted 323,000 acres of potatoes, that accounted for just 27 to 28 per cent of the total acres. Washington’s share has stayed fairly steady with growers planting 133,000 acres in 1990 versus 170,000 acres in 2015. North Dakota, the third largest potato growing state, has also seen production drop from 150,000 acres in 1990 to 82,000 acres in 2015. Growers saw an uptick in prices to start the 2013-2014 marketing year, then it was all down from there. The 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 marketing years remained flat at around $6 to $8 per hundredweight. Since 2000, the average national price for fresh potatoes has ranged from a low of $7.34 per hundredweight for the 2003 crop to a high of $14.44 for the 2008 crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Following the cycle of one to two years of high prices, followed by a period of low prices, potatoes seem primed to realize somewhat higher prices in the 2016-2017 marketing year. The USDA baseline forecast is for $6 per hundredweight. Another source gave a single moving average of $6.50 to $6.60 per hundredweight, while the third — indicating more risk — ranged from $7 to $8.

Niche Potatoes Boost Potato Demand in Sweden

Potato demand in Sweden has been on the rise in the last two years, despite seeing some setbacks in 2010-2011 when reports about the GI (Glycemic Index) were flooding the news, causing consumers to think twice about how potatoes fit into a healthy lifestyle. One of the newer niche varieties that has been getting a lot of attention on social media is the Apache potato. Launched exclusively for Swedish retailers and food service five years ago by LEV & Co, in cooperation with Scottish potato producer Albert Bartlett, the speckled red and white potatoes can be found exclusively in major Swedish retailer ICA. With wild origins, the Apache belongs to the Solanum phureja family, as opposed to Solanum tuberosum which is pretty much the only types of potatoes on the market. The different genes are what make it unique, with a slightly sweet flavour when roasted, along with a shorter cooking time of 10-20 per cent compared to the common potato. It is only one of two or three potatoes available on the Swedish market that stem from the wild potato gene.

Scotland Signs Major Seed Potato Supply Deal with Kenya

Scotland’s farmers could be set to grasp a share of an estimated £50 million market for seed potatoes in Kenya following the announcement that the Scottish Government has signed a bilateral agreement with the Kenyan authorities. Kenya grows around 160,000 hectares of potatoes annually, but only two per cent is grown from certified seed. The agreement with the Kenyan government will enable farmers to access high-quality Scottish seed potatoes that are free from disease, potentially improving Kenya’s potato crop health and yield.

PRODUCT NEWS

PMRA Proposes Phase Out of Imidacloprid use

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is proposing to phase-out all the agricultural and a majority of other outdoor uses of imidacloprid over three to five years. Imidacloprid (Admire) is a neonicotinoid insecticide used by commercial applicators and growers to manage insects on a large number of agricultural crops, including potatoes in which it provides extended control of Colorado potato beetle, aphids, potato leafhopper and potato flea beetle. Health Canada proposes that current use of imidacloprid is not sustainable, and the levels of this pesticide that are being found in waterways and aquatic environments are harmful to aquatic insects, such as mayflies and midges, which are important food sources for fish, birds and other animals. The proposed re-evaluation decision is open for public consultation until Feb. 21, 2017. Based on the findings of the re-evaluation assessment on imidacloprid, the Health Canada is also launching special reviews for clothianidin (Titan) and thiamethoxam (Actara). These special reviews will examine any potential risks these pesticides may pose to aquatic invertebrates, including insects, as they are also being detected frequently in aquatic environments.

Aprovia Label Expanded to Include Major Potato Diseases

Syngenta Canada Inc. has announced the expansion of the Aprovia fungicide label to include additional soil-borne diseases affecting potato production, including Verticillium wilt, one of the main contributors to potato early dying. Potato early dying is a complex and economically significant disease that is widespread across many growing areas, but difficult to identify and effectively manage. Aprovia contains the recently registered active ingredient Solatenol (benzovindiflupyr), a powerful Group 7 succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide. When applied in-furrow at planting, Aprovia works from within the plant to help reduce the foliar symptoms of Verticillium wilt that appear later in the season. Aprovia also provides suppression of silver scurf and Rhizoctonia, the cause of stem and stolon canker, and black scurf.

Bayer Launches Velum Prime

Bayer has announced the launch of Velum Prime nematicide, the first non-fumigant nematicide registered for potatoes in Canada. Velum Prime is a new mode of action and chemical class (pyridinyl ethyl benzamide) for nematode protection. Velum Prime is applied in-furrow at planting. It comes in a liquid formulation that offers efficacy at low application rates making it ideal for use with existing in-furrow application equipment. Applied in-furrow, Velum Prime offers early blight protection.

Fighting the Late Blight Pathogen

The Plant Management Network (PMN) has released a new webcast presentation entitled “Late Blight Management Under Semi-Arid Conditions” to help potato growers recognize pathogen hosts, favourable disease conditions, and utilize effective control practices. Late blight of potato can spread very quickly and has the potential to be extremely destructive if managed improperly. The webcast, available at plantmanagementnetwork.org, outlines effective control practices and stresses the importance of starting fungicide programs early in the season, maintaining a consistent application schedule up to harvest and timing applications with environmental conditions.

PEOPLE NEWS

National Potato Council 2017 executive committee (l to r): Cully Easterday, Dominic LaJoie, Jim Tiede, Larry Alsum, Dwayne Weyers, Britt Raybould, Daniel Chin.

National Potato Council Leadership 2017

Dwayne Weyers of Aspen Produce, LLC, in Center, Colo., is National Potato Council (NPC) 2017 president. As president, Weyers will host the 2017 NPC summer meeting in Denver. Other NPC appointments include Daniel Chin of Klamath Falls, Ore., as new vice-president of the grower and public relations committee; Cully Easterday of Pasco, Wash., as first vice-president and vice president of the trade affairs committee; Larry Alsum of Friesland, Wis., as vice-president of the finance and office procedures committee; Dominic LaJoie of Van Buren, Maine, as vice-president of the environmental affairs committee; and Britt Raybould of St. Anthony, Idaho, as the vice-president of the legislative and government affairs committee. The 2016 president, Jim Tiede, will continue to serve on the executive committee as the immediate past president.

Mark Klompien New CEO at UPGA

United Potato Growers of America has chosen Mark Klompien as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer, replacing Jerry Wright. Before joining UPGA, Klompien served for four and a half years as president of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association. Prior to that, he was the vice president of supply chain management at Idahoan Foods; and he also spent 18 years at Basic American Foods (BAF), and six years at Lamb Weston. During his tenure with BAF, Klompien held a number of positions in engineering, operations, raw material, supply chain, procurement and government relations. Klompien has served as the chairman of the Potato Executive Committee for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI), and also served as a board member and executive committee vice-chair of IACI. He served on the College of Agriculture advisory board for the University of Idaho, and on the board of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.

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