The Canadian media have spotlighted the necessity of seasonal workers in the agri-food chain. Bethany Hastle, assistant professor of law at the University of British Columbia, shares her view at The Conversation Canada.com
Demand for processing potatoes has collapsed resulting in 760 million pounds of 2019-harvested potatoes still in storage. When combined with unsold seed potatoes, the lost value is $105 million according to United Potato Growers of Canada.
Ontario and Atlantic Canada have received about three-quarters of the foreign temporary workers compared to workers requested at this juncture. British Columbia and Quebec are faring worse with 54 per cent and 50 per cent respectively. These numbers are accurate for April 30.
Ontario’s fruit and vegetable growers applaud the announcement of financial supports from the federal and provincial governments to protect agricultural workers on Ontario farms during the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a 70% cost-share program up to $7,500 per farm.
The federal government has announced a $100 million Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will be assessed individually on their merit, and will be supported to a maximum of $10 million.
The Pest Management Centre is in final stages of identifying 10 priority ‘A’ projects says executive director Dr. Marcos Alvarez. That’s a tough exercise to winnow from the current list of 47 projects, given the diversity of Canada’s horticultural industry.
This biological mycoinsecticide label has been expanded via the Minor Use Program for management of whiteflies, aphids and thrips on additional greenhouse-grown crops in Canada. These include eggplant, lettuce, mint, onion and Brassica transplants, Asian water spinach and strawberries.
Canadians won two of the six booth awards at the United Fresh LIVE! show. Best Overall Booth was won by greenhouse grower Sunset/Mastronardi Produce Ltd., Kingsville, Ontario. Best FreshMKT Booth was won by Pure Flavor – Pure Hothouse Foods, Inc. Leamington, Ontario.
Davis Yung, the new chair of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA), has hit the ground running, spearheading a new initiative to deliver produce to frontline workers. 500 shopping bags, brimming with produce, recognize their thankless work throughout the pandemic thus far.
Just like the industry itself, Davis Yung brings a dynamic leadership style to the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. Its diverse membership is comprised of every segment of the produce industry supply chain which is responsible for 90 per cent of the fresh fruit and vegetable sales in Canada.
The Virtual New Product Showcase honours four product categories: the organic product award, packaging innovation award, best snackable product and best new product award. The Little Potato Company’s Easy Sides won best new product.
United Fresh 2019 offers a glimpse into the future with a TEC Zone featuring 24 top ag tech start-up companies. One of those is Montreal-based Motorleaf, which uses artificial intelligence to automate harvest yield estimates and disease scouting in tomato and pepper greenhouses.
The Ontario government is proactively organizing more COVID-19 testing of seasonal workers. The Niagara and Norfolk regions are priorities in July. It’s a particularly busy time with yellow plum harvest to start July 15 and peaches a week later.
Canlead Solutions is an administrative business service provider focused on supporting the Canadian agriculture and food sector. The non-profit organization shares space with the Agricultural Adaptation Council in Guelph, Ontario, but is governed by a separate board.