Mar 23, 2017

FS System promotes nutrient stewardship at March Classic!

The FS Stewardship pledge and commitment to the 4Rs was the focus at this year's FS exhibit at Grain Farmers of Ontario March Classic Conference and tradeshow in London this week. 

With excellent support and enthusiasm from the FS System, the back right hand corner of the trade show floor proved to be a very high-energy and visible meeting place for the many customers, colleagues and friends of FS that dropped by to say hi.
FS team at March Classic (L-R): Paul May, Jackie Littlejohn and Timea Jablanski of UPI Energy, Randy Broughton-FS PARTNERS, Justine Lennox-North Wellington Co-op, Kent Wolfe-AGRIS Co-op, Juli Paladino-FS PARTNERS, Terry Stevenson-AGRIS Co-op and Wanstead Farmers Co-op, Janice Johnson-GROWMARK, Mike Dotterman-AGRIS Co-op, Dale Cowan-AGRIS Co-op dand Wanstead Farmers Co-op, Bill Brown-GROWMARK, Petra Hathaway-Great Lakes Grain and Marilyn McQueen-FS PARTNERS. 
Also assisting but not in this photo are: Jim Irvine-Great Lakes Grain, Darrin Angus-Wanstead Farmers Co-op, Devin Homick-Great Lakes Grain and Mike McCarthy-FS PARTNERS. 

Mar 22, 2017

Congratulations to FS crop specialists earning CCS (Certified Crop Specialist) designations

Kim Hooey
Tyler Sabelli
Kim Hooey, Lucknow District Co-operative FS crop specialist, and Tyler Sabelli, Jess Snobelen and Mike Veenema, crop specialists with AGRIS Co-operative have all successfully completed the requirements necessary to hold credentials as a Certified Crop Specialist (CCS) in the FS SystemThis prestigious achievement is the next level up in their extensive agricultural training. 

The Certified Crop Specialist accreditation recognizes crop advisors for their production expertise, says Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director. “These credentials prove a CCS’s ability to put his or her training to work in finding solutions that help producers optimize agronomic results, economic return and environmental stewardship.
Jess Snobelen

Mike Veenema
To earn the title of Certified Crop Specialist, students are required to successfully complete a series of comprehensive written and verbal exams designed to establish base standards of knowledge on the topics of nutrient management practices, integrated pest management, soil erosion and water quality. Among the skill sets assessed were technical knowledge; the ability to discover, identify and analyze yield-limiting factors from a grower’s field records; identify common pest problems and recommend economic treatment measures; discuss and analyze the economic aspects of crop production; and understand the need-identification process.

Currently there are 17 individuals in Ontario that hold this GROWMARK designation and are among approximately 200 in the FS Co-operative System’s service area of Ontario and the states of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Feb 24, 2017

AGRIS-Co-operative awarded 2016 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer

AGRIS Co-operative was recently awarded the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer award at the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers(CAAR) Annual Conference in Banff, Alberta.

“Using 4R Nutrient Stewardship, we can help our customers fully realize the benefits of this program”, said Jim Campbell, general manager of AGRIS-Co-operative. The framework aligns perfectly with the responsible, effective, and profitable planning we offer our customers. If we can help farmers to optimize crop yields, and make sustainable contributions to Canada’s agri-food sector, it’s a win for everyone.”

AGRIS Co-operative has embraced 4R Nutrient Stewardship philosophies and strategies with 14 of the co-operatives’ 22 Certified Crop Advisors having completed FertilizerCanada’s eLearning 4R training. Additionally, introductory training sessions of the key elements of 4R Nutrient Stewardship were completed by all staff. And most recently, the AGRIS board of directors has adopted the FS Stewardship Pledge.

AGRIS-Co-operative Ltd. works alongside other Ontario stakeholders, including Fertilizer Canada, to further the adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship to protect and conserve water quality and ecosystem health in the province.

Adrian Vandyk, AGRIS Co-operative operations manager accepts the award for the 
co-operative, presented by Cassandra Cotton, director, sustainability and membership with Fertilizer Canada.

Feb 16, 2017

Celebrate Canada's National Ag Day!

Today, Feb. 16 is being recognized as Canada’s Agriculture Day with many events and celebrations being hosted around the country.

The theme for the day is Let’s Celebrate the Food We Love, and the plan is that the agriculture and agri-food community will host events and conversations across the country to do just that.

“It’s all about showing our love, pride and passion for an industry that puts food on our tables,” said Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to have a voice in the conversation and celebrate the industry that feeds the world.”
Twitter hashtag #CdnAgDay
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Dec 12, 2016

Let good health and safety practices save you from final jeopardy!

“Safety should not be viewed as an extra step in what we do; it should be just how we do our jobs,” simply said by Erin Byram, GROWMARK Ontario’s health and safety specialist at her annual FS Health and Safety training day.

This year’s program began with a lesson about site inspections given by Lester Zmolek, GROWMARK senior safety specialist with an interactive session called “what’s wrong with this picture?” The group covered a number of scenarios such as:  where and how to store flammables, how often to check the integrity of an eye-wash station and learning that the number one cause of incidents is from slips, trips and falls.

Lester finished by saying we can’t stop our employees from coming across hazards in their everyday jobs, “but we can make darn sure every employee is given the proper tools and training to handle things the right way.”

Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director led the group through the many hazards to watch for while crop scouting and attending to growers fields. Such concepts as heat exhaustion and physical exertion from just walking through a large soybean field, checking blind spots when driving heavy spray equipment and something as simple as watching out for any aggressive dogs that might be roaming farmers’ fields.

Erin added to this the reality of mental fatigue and stress during the demanding spring growing season. “With today’s demands and expectations of getting more done in less time, it is important to not cut corners and to listen to your body,” she warned.

Fleet safety was covered by Dana Wells, UPI Energy manager, ERT, Compliance and Fleet Services in regards to changes to annual and daily safety inspections and the importance of recording your findings truthfully. Dana finished up by delivering a strong message on the importance of performing proper wheel inspections, stating that “Wheel-off incidents are preventable!”

The highlight of the day took place just before lunch with a rousing rendition of the well-known game-show Jeopardy. The creative interactive team-activity had participants jumping up and shouting out health and safety answers to win top points for their team. Congratulations to team Safety Dogs for the win!

See photos below of many of the great moments captured throughout the day:

Erin Byram welcomes the group.

Let's play Health & Safety Jeopardy!

Lester Zmolek calls out first person to answer for a
chance to win Jeopardy points for their team!

Dana Wells talks fleet safety.

Don McLean talks about
staying safe in the field.

Health and Safety is top of mind for GROWMARK System staff. Join us next year for our 10th annual Health and Safety Day!  

Nov 14, 2016

New Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-op is open for business

Last week, farmers in and around the Sarnia area visited two field-sites to see first-hand the process of collecting corn stover and wheat straw from their fields to be repurposed into feedstock and other products as part of the introduction and launch of the newly incorporated Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC).

It has been four years of research and development in the making with the AGRIS Co-operative board of directors in the forefront of the project from the beginning stages of contemplation, starting in 2012.

“The co-op is ready to sign up members and is looking for 55,000 contracted acres from local farmers," says Jim Campbell CSPC secretary and AGRIS Co-op general manager. 

Plans are underway with Comet Biorefining to build the manufacturing plant in Sarnia in 2018 that will receive the crop residue for processing. Andrew Richard, one of the founders of the London-based company, said Comet is not just wanting to buy stover from the farmer but more importantly sees the relationship as a partnership. “Collecting the stover needs to be done sustainability and economically,” he says. “We leave two thirds of the crop residue on the field for biological processes and ground cover; and we we are using the right equipment to deliver the stover to the bio plant at an efficient industrial level.”

"The new co-op will be 100 per cent farmer-owned and when all said and done, the co-op will invest in the bio refining plant, owning 30 per cent of the facility,” says Campbell. Farmer-owners will receive money for the raw materials they supply and receive a return on investment from the plant.

"All in, this is a 70 million dollar expenditure, of which 11 million dollars will be farmer-invested money," says Campbell. “Farmers should be the ones who are investing, benefiting and sharing in the value chain; and this is just the beginning!”

Dave Park, CSPC president talks about how they are building a market for an
underutilized crop residue. "This is a good way to add value to our corn crop," he says.

Collecting the stover:
A tractor pulls a Hiniker flail chopper making 40-foot windrows. Then a Massey Ferguson 2270 HD baler collects the crop residue and produces three-ft. by four-ft. by eight-ft. bales which each weigh (on average) 1500 lbs. The bales are then collected with a ProAG bale picker and stacker that retreives 12 bales per run and piles them effortlessly and neatly at the end of the field. 


CSPC will be hosting a series of town-hall meetings next month to answer questions from interested farmers.

Oct 13, 2016

Celebrating Co-op Week!

Contributed by: Audrey Aczel, communications and event manager, Ontario Co-operative Association.

Co-op Week in Canada is being celebrated from October 16 to 22 this year - the same week as International Credit Union Day, which is on October 20! It is an opportunity for co-operative and credit union members, staff and enthusiasts provincially, nationally and globally, to celebrate the impact we have as a sector and as a movement. Co-op Week is also recognition of our continuing contributions to sustainable social and economic development both at home and abroad.

Co-operatives are community-focused businesses that balance people, planet and profit. They are formed to seize local opportunities or respond to local challenges.

Here are some quick and easy CO-OP FACTS AND STATS you could share:
  • There are 1,300 co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires, located in Ontario.
  • Ontario co-operatives have 49,000 volunteers - 10,000 of which are board members.
  • Co-ops are in every business sector, and offer services from the cradle to the grave, from child care through to funeral co-ops!
  • Co-operatives create $3.3 billion in income for Ontarians.
  • Co-operatives are value-based and member-owned and focused.
  • More than 1 of every 7 people worldwide are a member of a co-op.
  • Co-operatives operate in more than 90 countries and employ over 100 million people around the world.
  • Twice as many co-ops remain in operation after 10 years as other types of business enterprise.
In 1844, the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in England established the basis for the principles in which co-operatives around the world continue to operate. The seven co-operative principles are still a common platform for all co-ops today. They are:

 Happy Co-op Week!

Sep 23, 2016

FS expands its size and reach at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show!

Even though it has been a full week since the big event, it is definitely not a distant memory. With almost 50 enthusiastic FS crop, energy, grain and finance specialists that came out to greet visitors and three days of spectacular weather, the 2016 farm show was a great success.

Take a look at some of our experiences below!

FS site now double the size!

FS Stewardship Pledge takes centre stage!

Jackie Littlejohn of UPI Energy and key player in this
year's planning committee sets up on beautiful sunny morning.

Bill Brown of GROWMARK pulls together an intriguing
"Did you Know" weed fact exhibit.

Planning team steps up to new heights.
From (L-R) Bill Brown-GROWMARK, Terry Stevenson-AGRIS Co-operative,
Juli Paladino- FS PARTNERS and Justine Lennox-North Wellington Co-op.

Some of the FS System general managers stopped by for a photo opp. Seen here (B-F) Claude Gauthier-GROWMARK, Patrick Therrien -Embrun Co-operative, Al Scott-Lucknow District Co-operative, Peter Kelly-Wanstead Farmers Co-operative, Kelly Boyle-North Wellington Co-operative Services, Jeff Hurst-Huron Bay Co-operative, Tony Silvestro-UPI Energy LP.

FS has the solutions! Farmers learn some weed distinctions and tips.

Visiting the FS tent to get the latest crop assessment results
 and learn more about MiField
™ applied research.

Producers took part in daily sessions on best practices in
spraying techniques with Jason Deveau OMAFRA, sponsored
 by FS and Monsanto

Jackie Littlejohn of UPI Energy and Erin Byram of GROWMARK give high school
students a lesson on tank safety at AgScape/Ag Careers Student Competition event.
Always time to enjoy some 4R bean bag toss!  
(Right place, Right rate, Right time and Right source) 

Hope to see you there next year!!

Sep 7, 2016

Visit FS at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show

Next week is Canada's Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock. Make sure you come out and say hello. Take in Jason Deveau's session at the Monsanto plot demo site and also come visit us at the FS tent! (fourth lane)

Aug 15, 2016

A trusted program in CYL!

Since its beginnings, 49 years ago, the Co-operative Young Leaders Program (CYL) has been an important part of the Ontario agriculture co-operative sector. It has changed and grown in many ways since agriculture co-operatives launched the program in 1967; but today it is still vital that we continue to sponsor kids to CYL.

Erin Byram
Recently, GROWMARK sponsored a full week of CYL (Senior-A) at Lake St. George Field Centre in Richmond Hill. 

Erin Byram, GROWMARK Ontario Health and Safety specialist and past facilitator for CYL, participated as a panel judge and had the opportunity to listen first-hand to the young presenters give their pitch on an idea for a new co-op business start-up. 

"I recommend this to anyone who wants to get more involved in helping youth better understand agriculture and the value of co-ops in communities, says Erin. It is a very gratifying opportunity."

As founders of the Co-operative Young Leaders Program, the ag co-op sector must keep a strong focus on promoting the program in our rural communities, with our boards of directors and employees. 

Remember to sponsor a young person to CYL!  

CYL Senior A graduates thank GROWMARK and the FS System for their ongoing support and encouragement! 

Jul 7, 2016

2016 4-H Ambassadors tour FS sites in Ontario

The 2016 Ontario 4-H Ambassadors took a day away from their regular routine to learn more about the FS ag co-operative network.

For the past few years, it has become a tradition to take a group photo in front of  a 1942 Ford Stake truck purchased by North Wellington Co-operative as part of its 70th anniversary celebration at the co-opertive's site in Harriston. 

Seen here, from L-R (Back row) 2016 Ontario 4-H Ambassadors: Elaine Jeffs, Sadie-Jane Hickson, Vicki Brisson, Laura DeKlein, Julie French and Logan Emiry. Front row (L-R) Peggy Ryan FS PARTNERS administrative assistant, Matt Stewart 2016 Summer Intern with AGRIS Co-operative, Justine Lennox, marketing and communication assistant with North Wellington Co-op and general manager of North Wellington Co-op, Kelly Boyle.

Another photo opportunity at the UPI Energy bulk fuel plant in Guelph. The group is hosted by UPI Energy's Bob Hodgson, manager operations (L) and Dianne Kennedy, co-ordinator, regulations and compliance (far Right).

4-H Ambassadors take a moment for a selfie with Jackie Littlejohn, UPI Energy's marketing services manager.

Kevin Stumpf, FS PARTNERS Ayr branch manager (L) gives the group a tour of the FS PARTNERS and Great Lakes Grain agronomy and grain facility in Ayr.

Sadie-Jane thanks Pat Gallagher, GROWMARK Ontario logistics manager for a tour of the GROWMARK Distribution Centre in Kitchener.

Don McLean, GROWMARK Ontario agronomy business director talks new crop technology at FS PARTNERS demonstration plot in Ayr.

On the way home, a quick stop at the FAST STOP cardlock site in Alma.

Alma 1902 steam engine makes a nice backdrop for end of day photo.