May 10, 2007: Government involvement in agriculture
is always a contentious issue. It sometimes seems that governments
are either not doing enough for farmers, or trying to do too
much and creating regulatory burdens and obstacles. But one
thing I think the provincial government is getting right is
declaring farm innovation to be important and drawing attention
to it through public awards.
As part of the 2006 provincial budget, $2.5 million is to
be used over five years to recognize farmers who have been
innovative in running their businesses. More than 230 applications
were made by Ontario farmers to a special panel, with 55 awards
given. They were based on uniqueness and originality, stage
of development, the impact or benefits of the innovation,
and adoption and/or commercialization. Here are a few samples
of the innovations CFFO members made that received awards:
Fritz and Paul Klaesi,
of Renfrew County, were awarded one of the two top awards
for their adoption of an anaerobic digester that turns manure
into energy. The Klaesis system is one of Ontario’s
first operational systems generating electricity to the
grid, after powering two homesteads and farm buildings.
The manure-based anaerobic digester generates 750 kilowatt
hours of electricity per day, or enough to power 30 homes.
Ike and Beatrix Enter
of Hungry Hollow Organics Inc., in Middlesex County, received
a regional award for expanding their production to include
value-added prepared products, allowing them to use more
of every carcass. Their organic ground meat products, such
as chili, shepherd’s pie and lasagna, require more
ingredients than Hungry Hollow can supply, providing other
primary producers with a ready market. The Enters have developed
a brand with professional packaging and marketing materials
to support the products at retail.
of Minten Family Farms Ltd., in Lambton County, received
a regional award for adopting an effective and environmentally
sound way to handle deadstock. Utilizing a composting system
he discovered in Manitoba, the system was made even more
efficient by obtaining provincial approval to transport
the operation’s deadstock to a single location.
of Everdale Organic Farm and Environmental Learning Centre,
in Wellington County, received a regional award for teaching
young people about how to farm organically. The 150-acre
farm offers Future Farming Internships and Collaborate Regional
Alliance for Farmer Training programs to train young people
in production and marketing methods for organic farming.
of Kraayenbrink Farms, of Wellington County, received a
regional award for developing a way to transports pigs without
risking biosecurity. Kraayenbrink outfitted a truck with
a fold-up catwalk operated by an air cylinder and a loading
chute that is raised and lowered by an electric winch. The
winch can be operated from the catwalk or the interior of
the truck. The innovation ensures that no part of the truck,
other than the tires, touches any foreign objects or the
ground, better protecting his herd.
Innovation is a key factor in creating new opportunities
for Ontario farmers and for adding value and income. As I
mentioned earlier, the provincial government got it right
when they decided to award and promote the spirit of innovation
that has long characterized Ontario’s farmers. For more
information on the awards, log onto the internet at www.omafra.gov.on.ca.