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.

Jul 6, 2016

FS crop specialist Dale Cowan receives international recognition!

Dale Cowan, of AGRIS Co-operative and Wanstead Farmers Co-operative has been named 2016 International Certified Crop Adviser’s (ICCA) Adviser of the Year.
Dale Cowan, ICCA's 2016 Adviser of the Year

This prestigious award recognizes a certified crop advisor who delivers exceptional customer service, is highly innovative, has shown great leadership in their field, and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agriculture industry.

Cowan has been the senior agronomist and sales manager with AGRIS Co-op and Wanstead Farmers Co-op for the past six years and has established a 25-year business relationship as an agronomic service provider with the Ontario agriculture co-operative network. In addition to advising large growers, Cowan mentors 14 CCAs. Combined, Cowan reviews recommendations across 275,000 acres comprised of over 300 key accounts. Over more than 35 years, he has advised growers on corn, soybeans, and wheat as well as cucumbers, watermelons, and tomatoes.

“This award was unexpected and I feel very honoured to have received it,” said Cowan. “I think it reflects well on the Ontario CCA program and I must acknowledge the group effort because no one builds a career in isolation,” he added. 

"Dale is a great example of the knowledge, experience, innovation, and ethical conduct that the CCA program has come to be recognized for,” said AGRIS general manager Jim Campbell. “Through his professional and volunteer activities, Dale has been instrumental in the development and promotion of sustainable agronomy and precision farming practices throughout Ontario," he added.

Cowan’s involvement includes participation in the Ontario Agri-Business Association (OABA) as representative, board member and president; chair of the Ontario CCA Board; vice chair of Provincial Nutrient Management Advisory Committee; work with Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Advisory Committee on Funding; and activity on the Crops Input Committee/Agriculture Research and Education Committee. He is also the CCA representative to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Soil Health Working Group and is a member of the Ontario CCA Exam Committee and a regular contributor to several farm publications.

To learn more about this award, visit: https://www.agronomy.org/awards/view/131

Jun 29, 2016

July 2 is International Co-op Day!

This Saturday marks the International Day of Co-operatives…and a wonderful opportunity to showcase our amazing sector! The day's theme is ‘Co-operatives: The power to act for a sustainable future’, and it is dedicated to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

On July 2, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) will launch the Co-ops for 2030 website, an online platform for co-operatives to learn about the SDGs, explore how co-operatives can help achieve them and make pledges to contribute to the SDGS. Co-operatives will not need to create new initiatives to participate in Co-ops for 2030 – the important sustainable development work you already do can serve as pledges. By uniting co-operatives under one online platform, we create a global record of how co-operatives build a better world.

Jun 21, 2016

Local Kingston area 4-H youth named 2016 GROWMARK Essay Contest winner

Kieran Shannon, 2016 provincial Essay Contest winner
Congratulations to 16 year old Kieran Shannon of Glenburnie, Ontario who has been named the Ontario provincial winner of the 2016 GROWMARK Essay Contest for 4-H members. The theme of this year’s contest was “What can young people to do ensure the sustainability of agriculture?”

In his contest entry, Kieran said: “People need to realize the facts! I believe that it is our job as today’s farming youth to step up and lead the way by having honest and balanced conversations. We have the ability to change the way our generation views modern farming and we can show people how sustainability in agriculture means protecting the land for future productivity. Benefits of technological advancements on the farm far outweighs the perceived risks. We need to change the way people view agriculture in the 21st century.”

Kieran Shannon is a student at La Salle Secondary School in Kingston and a member of the Frontenac 4-H Association.

As the contest winner, Shannon receives a $500 award from GROWMARK and the Frontenac  4-H Association  also receives a $300 award in honour of his accomplishment to help future students.

Two provincial runners-up each receive a $125 award. The runners-up are: Sarah Campbell, Chatham-Kent 4-H Association, student at Blenheim District High School and Mikayla Ringelberg, Hamilton Wentworth 4-H Association, student at Hamilton District Christian High School.

This is the fifth year for the Essay Program in Ontario in partnership with 4-HOntario, but the 23th year for the program in the United States. The contest was designed to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues in agriculture, and understand the unique role of co-operatives.

Jun 3, 2016

GROWMARK recognizes an AGRIS Co-operative crop specialist as one of five top crop specialists for advocating sustainable best management farming practices

Chris Snip of AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. in Cottam, Ontario is one of five crop specialists who have excelled in engaging farmers in sustainable best management practices, and a recipient of the GROWMARK Endure 4R Advocate Award. The crop specialists are recognized for their work with farmers in using the 4R (right source, right rate, right time, right place) approach to nutrient stewardship, assisting growers with fertilizer management, implementing a nitrogen monitoring program like N-WATCH, and more.

Chris Snip is a Certified Crop Advisor and has worked at AGRIS, based in south western Ontario, for 16 years. He is also an active member of Delta Waterfowl, The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and a board member of the local Soils and Crop Association.

“I started really showing appreciation for the 4R approach after I witnessed a large algae bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie in the fall of 2011,” said Snip. “I live on a tributary of Lake Erie. Across the road from the lake, my family and I spend a lot of time in and on the water and consuming fish from the lake. I hated to see the lake that way. I felt I could play an important role in reducing nutrient loss from agricultural lands in my trade area. I work with growers individually to help them come up with ways that can reduce nutrient losses on their farm operation that work with their cropping practices and equipment capabilities while maximizing nutrient utilization and profitability,” he added.

Four other FS crop specialists achieving the Endure 4R Advocate Award are: Logan Haake (Legacy Farmers Cooperative, Ohio), Rick Klevze (GROWMARK FS, New Jersey) Malcolm Stambaugh (Ag View FS, Illinois) and Jason Wesslund (Heritage FS, Illinois).

The five crop specialists were nominated by their member companies. A selection committee comprised of individuals from the agriculture industry outside of the GROWMARK System served as judges. Winners will receive recognition for their achievement and an all-expense-paid trip with their spouse to attend the 2016 GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium. This is the first year for the Endure 4R Advocate award and is part of the GROWMARK System sustainability initiative Endure.

Jun 1, 2016

Sometimes just a simple invite can go a long way!

When Peter Kelly, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative general manager reached out to his local MP as a way to get acquainted with his new surroundings, he didn’t realize how this small friendly gesture would generate some unexpected added publicity for his co-op.

Not only did Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu pay Wanstead Farmers Co-operative a visit to learn more about the long-standing business, meet the staff and get a tour of the new facility in Wyoming, but she also posted the group photo on the front cover of her federal riding’s newsletter.

“We were flattered to see our picture on the Federal Express,” says Kelly. “Getting this extra publicity was a nice surprise and greatly appreciated.”