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
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.
Frank Minten, 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.
Gavin Dandy, 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.