Wednesday, April 18

B&B's niche market astronomically successful


(Originally published in TOURISM)

The planets and star systems of the tourism industry are realigning themselves in light of current pressures in the tourism universe, and it seems niche markets – once the neglected black holes of the industry – are increasingly assuming supernova status. Jack and Alice Newton’s Observatory B&B is perhaps the most vivid expression of a new phenomenon industry watchers say will only amplify with time.

Jack is a retired Marks & Spencer department store manager who has always nurtured a passion for astronomy. His observations are well documented among his network of peers. Alice and he had a dream of one day welcoming guests from around the world, with whom they could share their knowledge of the skies. “This is something we obviously love to do,” says Alice. “We find parents sometimes will look for holidays that will involve a science angle in which their children can participate, providing an opportunity for them to learn as a family.”

The Newtons looked for a place in Canada with a minimal amount of light pollution and cloudless skies. They built on Anarchist Mountain in Osoyoos, BC, and created what could well be the only B&B destination of its kind. Picture a grand two‑storey house on a hillside 1,500 feet above the valley floor, fully‑equipped with a 16‑inch computer‑controlled telescope housed in a roof‑top observatory. Even in daytime, Jack can view about 600 stars with his telescope.

“A stay with us always includes an opportunity to scan the skies. Our guests even have a chance to learn how to photograph their discoveries by registering for the optional imaging tutorial we offer, and they can take what they see through the telescope back home with them on a CD‑ROM; things like nebulae, galaxies and planets. We also offer morning observations of the sun through H‑alpha filters.”

Jack’s own collection of photography is an eloquent validation of this offering’s quality. Visitors to the B&B’s website (www.jacknewton.com) can sample his vibrant images. On cloudy evenings, Jack logs into the controls of one of a number of observatories around the world that allow guest astronomers to make use of their facilities. “There is always a clear sky somewhere," he quips. A giant home theatre screen at the B&B, complete with the latest audio and viewing technology, then becomes the most luxurious of viewfinders.

This is the perfect example of the kind of tourism experience that differentiates itself from anything else on the market. Jack’s reputation in the field of astronomy precedes him and makes for an irresistible drawing card in some circles. He has pioneered the field of amateur CCD (charged couple device) photography, especially the development of high resolution tri‑color imaging. Jack’s photographs are well‑known to readers of Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and Sky News magazines. He is also a frequent contributor to other magazines, calendars and newspapers around the globe; his work has been featured in such publications as Newsweek, the Canadian Geographic Magazine, Photo Life, and The Audubon Society's Field Guide to the Night Sky. As author or co‑author of a number of books on astronomy, his writings and images enjoy an international following.

Jack is a popular lecturer who has been invited to present his stunning images at star parties all over Canada and the US. In 1995 he traveled to southern England and Wales, where he spoke to more than 1,000 British Astronomical Society members during eleven lectures and workshops on his marathon 21‑day tour. His guiding experience includes leading solar eclipse expeditions throughout the world to such distant locales as Russia, Indonesia and Mexico. He headed a contingent of 300 enthusiasts to Peru to view Halley’s Comet.

Jack and Alice were honoured to have Asteroid 30840 named Jackalice by the IAU (International Astronomical Union). To date, Jack has received credit on 17 supernovae discoveries. No wonder people are willing to converge on the Observatory B&B, hoping perhaps to be with Jack and Alice when the next supernova comes around.

Making an event come alive - Québec style!


(Originally published in TOURISM)

No matter how ambitious the undertaking, or how daunting the task, Québec 2008’s senior executive director Josée Laurence hopes that if one lasting impression remains etched in the mind of those who converge on the city for its 400th birthday celebrations, it will be an image of countless – and highly memorable – gatherings:

“When the Société du 400e anniversaire de Québec launched on its mission, we looked at how comparable events elsewhere in North America had approached their commemorations. We even looked at world expos, and we sought guidance from regional stakeholders representing economic, social, tourism and cultural realms, through consultations with a view to uncovering what their collective aspirations were.

“People told us the celebrations had to impart, above all, a legacy for the geographic territory of Québec City. Secondly, it became clear that we needed to instil in the population a need to participate in the events beyond just simply attending them. This desire for community engagement emanated vividly from our findings.”

How this would be achieved, Laurence explains, is through a strategic layering of activities over the entire 2008 calendar year. “This runs against conventional wisdom which usually calls for concentrated energy over well‑defined events and staging areas. But the richness of the environment in which we operate here warranted a more inclusive approach.”

Laurence mentions the Québec winter carnival as an example of these riches. As a long‑established signature event, the carnival is well‑positioned to nourish the city’s birthday celebrations. Similarly, the Summit of La Francophonie, scheduled for October 2008, could hardly have been excluded from the festivities, so organizers had to opt for a wider than usual calendar window.

“This approach could only work if our program also featured particularly powerful moments designed to rekindle the public’s interest in the birthday celebrations," says Laurence. "These special 'moments' will be interspersed with an array of more niche‑oriented events inspired by our community of communities, for which we issued a call for proposals. The challenge was to treat equitably the proposals submitted, knowing they would originate from different groups with varying resources!”

To ease the process, project categories were established. One encompassed annual events like the Québec City Summer Festival and the New France Festival. “We counted 29 events and sent organizers documentation inviting them to submit proposals.” There was another category targeting cultural institutions like the Québec City Opera and the Symphony Orchestra. A third category was identified with a special mandate in mind, Laurence explains:

“After 400 years, we wished to acknowledge the dynamic nature of our society. Therefore it was felt areas like history and heritage, arts, culture, sports, leisure, the environment, science and technology should be mined because we believe a 400th anniversary is not only the opportunity to look back, but also an invitation to explore today’s reality with a view of tomorrow. We needed to call on our youth to consider some of the challenges ahead in the next centuries.”

To make it possible for these mostly volunteer stakeholders to submit projects in these fields, Laurence’s team issued two waves of calls for proposals: “We received 85 projects as a result of the first wave in 2005; and in the second wave in 2006, we received 232 projects. We established an advisory committee tasked with assessing the quality and relevance of projects; in the end, we retained 16 proposals from the first wave we felt would resonate with the spirit of gathering we wished to impart to the celebrations, and we are awaiting the results of the second wave."

The theme of the gathering (in French: “les rencontres”) will be the common thread throughout the year. “At a very fundamental level, this allows us to address the whole domain of the human experience through time. The celebrations must satisfy a longing to touch hearts, to create significant encounters between inhabitants and visitors. We live in times during which many have been to Last Vegas and have seen the greatest shows on earth. How do we differentiate our celebrations in a meaningful way with a program budget of 90 million dollars?”

Organizers have designated Espace 400e as the official plaza for the celebrations. "It ties in the water’s edge to a physical space within the city for gatherings, punctuated by exhibits and activities that support the experience. The gardens and the picnic areas; the bistros there will reinforce the theme. Even the outdoor furniture will be configured in a way that stimulates encounters and dialogue among people, instead of isolating them from one another.”

With this approach firmly in mind, Québec 2008 organizers have even asked event and conference management companies to submit theming proposals featuring the anniversary, that could be adopted by event organizers as market‑ready solutions for, say, a pharmaceutical industry conference, to integrate some of the commemorative flavour into their convention program.

Keeping the excitement alive!

Sustaining interest for the entire year will be a challenge, Laurence admits: "Espace 400e will be in operation from June to mid‑October. For this to work there must be a renewal of the theme, week after week, so that we instil in visitors from Québec the desire to come back. We are associated with Robert Lepage and his company Ex Machina, which we have mandated to produce a multi‑media show to be projected across the grain silos that line the basin for a period spanning 40 summer evenings starting at dusk. This unusual screen has a surface 600‑meters long – it will be the most ambitious such projection ever produced in the world!”

Needless to say, Josée Laurence is confident that key moments such as these, along with opening and closing events featuring the Cirque du Soleil, will all contribute to making sure Québec’s 400th is well‑received and fondly remembered as a place and time where so many individuals and groups have had so much to celebrate, and so many ways to do so.

USTOA looking for responsible best practices

(Originally published in TOURISM)

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) has formed a Responsible Tourism Committee, with a mandate to help develop and promote best practices in promoting responsible tourism for the association's 134 active members. The committee will encourage members to engage in best practices and provide a forum for members to share experiences and develop solutions.

Other plans call for providing USTOA's membership with information about international accreditation and tourism certification programs in all parts of the world, and developing training programs to help members understand and meet the standards of responsible tourism in their day‑to‑day operations. As part of its outreach efforts, the USTOA Responsible Tourism Committee will also establish guidelines or standards with countries and allied members that already have existing programs.

This information on USTOA's new committee was recorded in TravelMole, February 13, 2007. TravelMole reporter David Wilkening commented: "The committee's first task may be its hardest: define responsible tourism."

Women are eager adventure travellers

Guests on a ranch adventure in Saskatchewan

(Originally published in TOURISM)

If you're wondering who is doing the most adventure travel these days, the answer may surprise you: women, and not the hairy-chested image of the macho man often associated with this fast-growing segment of the travel market, according to a report by David Wilkening in TravelMole. Women make up the majority of adventure travellers worldwide, reports the first annual 2006 Adventure Travel Industry Survey, Practices and Trends, released by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).

Some highlights from interviews with travellers representing 35 countries: Women comprise 52% of adventure travellers; 41-60 year olds comprise the highest participating age group; 46% of all companies offer sustainability program/s for customers; The average land cost for an adventure travel trip: $2,122; and 83% of survey respondents realized revenue increases between 2004 and 2005

Glenbow Museum unveils multi-million dollar gallery to share Alberta's story with the world

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta opens March 24 and will share the story of Alberta through the lives of 48 mavericks- colorful characters whose tenacious spirits and enterprising mindsets shaped who we are today. These individuals represent Alberta men and women from diverse ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds - from prominent figures to ordinary people.

The Gallery, inspired by a book by Calgary-based author Aritha van Herk, brings these individual's stories to life through artifacts, art, photographs and multimedia. Visitors will trace the development of our history though 12 distinctive galleries:

Exploration and Fur

The fur traders were eager to exchange guns, blankets and kettles for the skins of beaver and buffalo with the First Peoples. Their quest for fur also opened the door to mapping and exploration.

Uninvited Guests

The West comes to be seen as wide open territory, ripe for exploitation. Meet the explorers, surveyors and missionaries who with their visions of new opportunities, made their discoveries in the West.

Mounties and Mustangs

The North-West Mounted Police were sent out from the east to monitor the unruly whiskey traders and shape a new dialogue with the Native Peoples. Discover the hardships of their trek west, what they faced upon their arrival and how they came to embody the ideal of law, order and good government.

Building the Railway

Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's vision of a united Canada required a transcontinental rail link. Marking a pivotal moment in the province's economic and cultural growth, the railway brings settlers, labourers and tourists and becomes both a mode of transportation and a political instrument.

Settlement and Scenery

Carrying both wealthy tourists who enjoyed luxury berths and silver service as well as penniless immigrants and frugal settlers eager to fulfill the West's promise of prosperity, the railway changed the settlement of the province.

Ranching

The disappearance of the buffalo suggests the prairie may be used as available pasture for cattle. Explore life on Alberta's range: the end of open range ranching, our harsh environment, the origins of the Calgary Stampede and the horse as a symbol of Alberta's spirit.

Grassroots Politics

Albertans have always and continue to fight for social and political reform. The United Farmers of Alberta, the Social Credit Party, the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance Party were all born here. One thing is certain; politics in Alberta are always unpredictable.

Fighting Injustice

Fighting for Alberta's provincial independence, fighting for the right to control public lands and resources, fighting for the rights of women, Albertans are known to test the limits and demand changes.

Newcomers

Settlers from across Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia came to Alberta seeking free land, religious and political freedom, and most of all, a fresh start. Meet the diverse peoples who brought new languages, cultures and skills to shape Alberta as she, in turn, shapes them.

War and the Homefront

The wars bring about different arrivals and departures interrupting Alberta's relative isolation. To this place so separate from the world's conflicts came POWs, internees and training sites. See how the province's character is shaped by bringing Alberta to the world and the world to Alberta.

Oil and Gas

Alberta's natural resources have built prosperity and success but oil is an enigmatic resource that both blesses and curses those who depend on it. Our rich energy has greatly affected the province's economy, politics, social structure and its future.

Post Haste

Alberta is now a complex, highly urban, yet still physically stunning province, and our maverick story continues in the present. We are a diverse and wildly unpredictable place with a population who lives, breathes and relishes change.

Find out more: www.glenbow.org/about/media/kits.cfm

Author:

Karin Põldaas
Glenbow Museum
Email: kpoldaas@glenbow.org

Annual new event announced for Regina

Here is a dispatch from Tourism Regina that was originally published in TOURISM:

"Tourism Regina and the Saskatchewan International Tattoo Inc are pleased to announce a new significant annual event to Regina, the Saskatchewan International Tattoo and Festival, presented by Saskatchewan Credit Unions.

Tattoo Show Producer, Al Nicholson said, "This is a military pageant on a grand scale featuring more than 550 military, RCMP and civilian performers united in a community salute to the RCMP and a tribute to Canada's soldiers."

Representing the presenting sponsor, Saskatchewan credit unions, Keith Nixon, Vice President of Democratic Support and Corporate Secretary for SaskCentral said, "Credit unions are interested in building strong, safe and stable communities, and we welcome opportunities to recognize the efforts of the RCMP, military, police and emergency service providers in this regard."

The Tattoo will take place on May 24, 25 and 26 in the Brandt Centre at Ipsco Place, with three evening performances and one Saturday Matinee. The show will feature the The RCMP Musical Ride, Lord Strathcona's Horse, The Tattoo Chorus, and The Massed Pipes and Drums along with a number of other musicians, dancers and singers who will be announced as the show is finalized.

Assistant Commissioner Pierre Menard, Commanding Officer of RCMP "Depot" Division, on behalf of all RCMP members said, "The men and women of the RCMP are honoured to receive this salute from the community along side with the Canadian Forces. Both the military and the RCMP are proud to serve Canada at home and abroad."

As Commanding Officer of the Royal Regina Rifles, Lieutenant Colonel Murray Allan said, "I am pleased to accept the tribute offered to Canada's soldiers. Members of the Regina Rifles look forward to participating in this event, which is particularly timely given that June 2007 marks the centennial anniversary of the unit."

This event is supported by corporate sponsorship received from Saskatchewan credit unions, City of Regina, SGI, Casino Regina, Regina Hotel Association, Crown Investments Corporation, H J Linnen and Associates, Ipsco Place, Great West Life, SaskEnergy, and SaskTel. Media sponsors include CTV, CKRM and The Leader Post.

www.sasktattoo.com"

Author:

Gayle Zimmerman
Tourism Regina
Email: gayle.zimmerman@tourismregina.com

Forage and beef website zeroes in on climate change

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A website originally created as a “living library” of research and extension information for beef and forage producers has taken a turn for the greener.

The website, www.foragebeef.ca, now contains a great deal of material on climate change among the regular features and helpful tidbits it has always offered cattle producers.

Many see the addition of a “green” component as a natural fit for the website. There are clear links between agriculture and the environment, which are particularly strong in the forage and beef sectors.

Information has been developed into two new modules found on the site, entitled “Climate Change–Beef” and “Climate Change–Forage.” Both modules provide readers with a summary of data in the form of “Knowledge Nuggets,” as well as fact sheets and scientific papers outlining research done on the forage and beef industry as it relates to greenhouse gas emissions.

Attention to environmental issues is growing, and www.foragebeef.ca offers some interesting facts and useful advice to farmers in this area. For example, feeding better quality diets that include legumes rather than grasses will not only reduce the amount of feed required per animal, but also reduce the methane those animals produce and release in the digestion process. The result is a more efficient feeding regime that lowers the producer’s maintenance costs per animal, but is also friendlier to the environment.

“New topics are placed on the website all the time,” said Al Foster, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF). “It’s one that producers should have bookmarked. They’ll find it to be a good summary of information on a number of forage and beef related topics.”

The website has been developed by several supporting partners, including the Alberta Beef Producers, the Canada Alberta Beef Research Centre, the Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund, AgricultureAlberta, SAF, Manitoba Agriculture, and the Matching Investment Initiatives Fund of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

The construction of www.foragebeef.ca took several years and involved over 50 AAFC research scientists, university researchers, and provincial forage and beef cattle extension specialists from across Canada. The group came together with the goal of bringing agricultural research closer to Canadian farmers. Their efforts have not gone unrewarded, netting them a major national AAFC award.

Foster says the wealth of knowledge, dedication, and hard work put into this project has paid off.

“The website provides producers with one stop for forage and beef information. It also includes updated news topics and announcements of things happening in the agricultural sector in and around Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba,” he noted.

“It’s important for Saskatchewan producers to view these updates regularly.”

Foster says producers will find the website has many valuable features. “A user-friendly internal search engine allows for quick and easy access to the wide variety of information on the site. As well, information is summarized in a logical outline and is easy to follow,” he explained.

“New topics and recent research papers from the majority of Canadian forage and beef cattle research scientists are being added all the time, so www.foragebeef.ca is always a quick reference for subjects that producers are interested in.”

For more information, contact:
Al Foster, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 878-8890

Non-bloating legumes reduce risk in alfalfa/grass pastures

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

When seeding cultivated land to perennial forage for pasture, producers are sometimes reluctant to include alfalfa in the seed mix because of the risk of bloat.

However, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Forage Development Specialist Lorne Klein, there are some non-bloating legumes such as sainfoin and cicer milkvetch that can help producers deal with that risk.

“The advantage of including alfalfa with grass is the opportunity to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer on your pasture,” said Klein. “Studies have shown that alfalfa/grass combinations without nitrogen fertilizer will produce forage yields equal to pure grass stands receiving 35 to 150 pounds per acre of nitrogen fertilizer.”

The good news is that producers can get the lion’s share of the legume advantage even if they just have 40 per cent alfalfa in their pasture stand. They don’t need to graze the full 100 per cent alfalfa.

One strategy to reduce the risk of bloat is to include non-bloating legumes in the seed mix, along with alfalfa and grass.

Sainfoin is a relatively early growing legume, and is suggested for pastures where early season grazing is planned. A suggested seeding rate for a pasture mix is 10 pounds per acre sainfoin, one pound per acre alfalfa, and four to seven pounds per acre grass.

“The nitrogen fixing capability of sainfoin is not well known, so alfalfa in the mix is still recommended for that purpose,” said Klein. “The sainfoin will reduce bloat risk, as long as it is consumed with the alfalfa.”

Cicer milkvetch is a legume that is slow to start growth in spring, and retains its leaves into late summer and fall. It is therefore better suited for summer and fall grazing.

A suggested seeding rate for a pasture mix is three pounds per acre cicer milkvetch, one pound per acre alfalfa, and four to seven pounds per acre grass.

“Cicer milkvetch may take three to four years to become established, so the alfalfa is recommended to provide a legume during the first two to three years,” Klein noted.

In the spring of 2005, 10 producers throughout Saskatchewan seeded demonstration fields that included sainfoin and cicer milkvetch. These fields were monitored for establishment, and will be followed as the producers use them for grazing. Observations will be used for future recommendations.

For a list of where the demonstration fields are located, please contact Lorne Klein at (306) 848-2382.

For more information, contact:
Lorne Klein, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 848-2382

Value-added processing provides key for rural renewal

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The latest census data from Statistics Canada has provided more fuel for the debate about rural revitalization.

While the numbers showed that the overall trend towards urbanization continues, an expert in rural population with the agency says it has little to do with the amount of money flowing through the rural economy.

Statistics Canada Research Economist Ray Bollman’s recent report, entitled “Factors Driving Canada’s Rural Economy,” found that the three fundamental drivers for rural Canada are technology, prices, and demography. His conclusions provide some food for thought for those who believe that rural revitalization is linked to the price of agricultural commodities.

Bollman says commodity industries like agriculture are not likely to be big drivers of rural population increases if the benchmark for success is job growth or population growth.

“The price of machinery is going down relative to the price of labour to do a unit of work, whether that is to make a bale of hay, produce a litre of milk, or cultivate an acre of land. So there is always an incentive there to substitute machines for workers,” he said.

“Communities that are intensive in commodities should work towards finding something extra or something new to export, to stabilize their work force, because you need fewer and fewer people to simply produce commodities,” said Bollman.

That thought runs counter to those who suggest a more profitable farm economy would result in more rural population. Bollman says more money flowing through a rural economy is not the solution.

“If commodity prices go up, you do not get more workers in communities. If the objective is workers or people, then the change in commodity prices will not have a big impact. I think you might even predict that people would buy bigger machines and you would need even fewer workers,” he explained.

Bollman says adding a manufacturing base or value-added processing is one approach that might more effectively create jobs.

“If you think about a successful rural community 20 years from now, it will likely have a manufacturing base. Successful communities will be those that find a new product or service to export in order to maintain their employment base,” he said.

Bollman’s report concludes that the falling price of transporting goods will make rural Canada more competitive when it comes to attracting manufacturing and processing. When transportation costs drop, opportunities arise to create jobs in these areas, and jobs create population growth.

That may sound like an overly simple solution, and Bollman admits that may not be the answer for all communities. But he contends that communities that choose to grow will find their way.

“I don’t think rural depopulation is inevitable, because no matter how you classify groups of communities or sizes of communities or the major commodity being shipped in the community, there are always some that are growing and some that are declining,” he stated.

“It’s not inevitable. There is always some community that, through good luck or good management, is able to grow.”

Bollman’s report, “Factors Driving Canada’s Rural Economy,” is available through Statistics Canada’s website at www.statcan.ca.

For more information, contact:
Ray Bollman, Research Economist
Statistics Canada
Phone: (613) 951-3747
E-mail: ray.bollman@statcan.ca

Western Canadian Livestock Expo returns to Saskatoon

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A prime opportunity is right around the corner for dairy and pork producers to see the latest equipment and products available to help them advance their operations.

The 2007 Western Canadian Livestock Expo will continue to showcase the most recent developments in technology and genetics for both the dairy and pork industries.

The show is being held April 25 and 26 at the Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. It’s organized by the Prairieland Park Corporation, and co-sponsored by Sask Pork and Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

Troy Donauer, a Livestock Development Specialist with SAF, says this year’s Expo provides trade show exhibitors, producers, and patrons with expanded marketing and networking opportunities.

“We’ve done a number of things to try and make the show better. We’re offering a free ‘Farmyard Lunch’ from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on April 25 for all the exhibitors and the people attending to mix and mingle. It’s a good networking opportunity for all involved,” he said.

“The show is also a great opportunity for producers to meet and talk with one another, to see what’s working in each other’s operations, converse over a coffee, learn what’s going on in the industry, and hear the latest scuttlebutt.”

Donauer says the trade show portion of the Expo is the place where those in the dairy and pork industry get to see the latest technology and equipment to make their operations more efficient, such as the latest electronic feeding systems.

For exhibitors such as feed companies or equipment manufacturers, it gives them a chance to spread their products around, touch different markets, and gain the exposure they need to be successful. “They get to be seen by a pretty big audience with one appearance,” he stated.

Another important part of the Expo is the educational component. School tours are being organized for grade five students to learn about various aspects of “Milk and Pork Production.” Tour guides host the students, and qualified resource people conduct 15-minute presentations at five stations discussing the processing of milk and milk products, the milking parlour, the dairy cow’s diet, nutritional aspects of dairy production, and pork production today.

“Last year, the Expo was scheduled over the Easter school break, and the school tours were really missed by everyone,” Donauer said. “The tours are going to resume again this year, which we’re all happy about.”

Education will be a key focus for producers and industry stakeholders, as well. Three training seminars – a low-stress pig handling workshop, a Trucker Quality Assurance certification course for hog haulers and transporters, and an animal care assessment tool information session – will be offered over the course of the two days, with leading industry experts on hand to conduct presentations.

While there is a $75 registration fee for the pig handling workshop, the other two seminars are offered at no cost to participants.

The public may also be interested in taking in the various livestock shows and sales occurring throughout the event, involving dairy cattle in several different categories.

Public admittance to the 2007 Western Canadian Livestock Expo is free of charge.

For more information on the events surrounding the Expo, including how to book school tours for grade five classes, visit the Prairieland Park website at www.saskatoonex.com, or call toll free 1-888-931-9333.

For more information, contact:
Troy Donauer, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 933-5096

Tuesday, April 17

Intervac gets green light with funding injection

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A $24.7 million injection from the provincial government means the final piece of the puzzle is now in place for the University of Saskatchewan’s International Vaccine Centre, or InterVac, to move forward.

“It was the final stage of funding required to give the construction phase of the project a go,” said Paul Hodgson, the Associate Director of Business Development for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), which is the primary collaborator in InterVac.

“For the future of InterVac, that amount of funding means it will actually go ahead. So it was absolutely ideal, and it’s what we needed to construct the facility.”

The total infrastructure cost for the project is estimated to be around $110 million.

InterVac is a state-of-the-art research and development centre that will develop vaccines to protect people and animals from the threat of emerging or persistent diseases such as avian influenza or tuberculosis. It will be the first Level 3 biosafety facility in Western Canada dealing with both human and large animal diseases.

“The biosafety rating refers to a different level of containment and security, because you don’t want to put your food supply at risk or anything like that,” explained Hodgson. “So our Level 3 rating means the facility will be extremely secure. We would potentially be able to look at things like HIV, for example, which is considered a Level 3 pathogen.”

What sets InterVac apart from similar facilities is its ability to incorporate large animals into its vaccine research and development. “We have the ability to work with agricultural pathogens or disease-causing organisms, but we can work with human pathogens to see if we have a model that is appropriate,” he said.

“So it’s important for the agricultural sector, and it’s important for the medical sector. This facility, and our work here, will be unique in the world.”

Hodgon noted that a lot of medical research used to be done on mice and rats. This posed some challenges, since discoveries made in mice and rats don’t always translate well into human health due to the vastly different physiologies, immune systems, living environments and diets between the two species. Nor do studies on rodents necessarily work well for larger animals like cattle and swine.

“As you move up the species chain into larger animals, the actual research becomes a bit more applicable to human diseases,” he said, noting that several more recent medical breakthroughs for people have been made using pigs for research.

In addition, illnesses like avian influenza are typical of many emerging diseases, in that they are directly linked to animals, but are now affecting human beings. Hodgson says this involves a field of research for which InterVac is perfectly positioned.

But the tremendous potential the facility holds is also relevant to the average agricultural producer. Hodgson emphasizes that the InterVac team’s relationship with farmers is always foremost in their minds.

“Ultimately, we hope InterVac is going to provide a competitive advantage for the Canadian agricultural industry, to reduce the farmer’s cost of production by developing vaccines of agricultural importance,” he said.

“So we’re looking at diseases of animals that are relevant in this day and age, and how our research can help combat them. Ultimately, we’re trying to help the producers reduce their costs and the mortality rates of their animals, and therefore increase their profits.”

Construction on the InterVac facility is expected to start this year. It is projected that the very detailed process of ensuring it meets Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards will take close to three years.

When all is said and done, Hodgson says Saskatchewan’s position as a global leader in infectious disease research, and biosecurity and research innovation will only be strengthened.

“InterVac, combined with VIDO and other institutes at the university like the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron, put us squarely in the forefront in these areas.”

For more information, contact:
Paul Hodgson, Associate Director, Business Development
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization
Phone: (306) 966-1523
E-mail: paul.hodgson@usask.ca

Agriculture development fund seeking letters of intent

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) is currently seeking letters of intent from those interested in obtaining research funding under the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF).

The projects for this year may be just a twinkle in the eye of a researcher – but if past results are any indication, the research supported by the ADF will have a profound impact on the Saskatchewan agricultural industry.

“The Agriculture Development Fund provides project funding for researchers to address issues of importance to the agriculture industry,” said SAF Manager of Research and Development Bill Greuel.

“The ADF has tried over the past 20 years to add value to agriculture. We do that by providing funding to researchers who are looking at everything from variety development or animal genetics to value-added processing and new bio-products.”

Greuel says the fund supports a broad spectrum of projects.

“We try to target research that goes from variety development, at the very root of agricultural innovation in the province, through to the development of innovative new products and processes that can develop new products, make advancements in bio-energy, and create new ways to add value to agriculture,” he said.

Many initiatives have been funded over the years, but the driving force has always been improving the bottom line for the agricultural industry.

“We look at what can increase returns to a producer. That might be through decreased production risks, new methods of crop production, or better varieties. We look at higher value for processors. That might involve new products developed from agricultural commodities. We also look at the benefits to consumers of the agricultural commodities we produce here in Saskatchewan,” Greuel stated.

“So we are trying to increase the value of the agricultural industry at all levels, from producers to processors to consumers.”

That impact can be quantified. Greuel noted that a number of studies have looked at the economic return of agricultural research. A recent report focusing on funding for variety development found that every dollar invested in the area returned $3.43 in value back to the industry.

The ADF is open to both public and private research firms. “We fund work at the U of S, the U of R, Agriculture and Agri-FoodCanada, the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, the Prairie Swine Centre, and private companies,” Greuel said. “We’ve got research going on with just about anybody who can add value to the industry.”

The fund will consider proposals related to any aspect of agricultural production, but specific emphasis is being placed on research which will lead to:

* improved food quality and safety;
* new and innovative food and other bioproducts and bioprocessing technologies;
* optimized livestock feeding systems;
* increased competitiveness in livestock production;
* decreased agricultural production risks;
* new crop varieties to meet market demand and consumer preferences; and
* integrated and comprehensive farming systems and practices that enhance or maintain the agro-ecosystem’s capacity and the integrity of the provincial land and soil resource.

ADF letters of intent will be accepted until April 15. Successful applicants will then be asked to submit a full proposal before September 1.

Letter of intent forms are available online at www.arb.gov.sk.ca, or through the links on the SAF website at www.agr.gov.sk.ca.

Applicants are asked to follow the online instructions. If problems or questions arise, please call (306) 787-5929, or e-mail ARBonline@agr.gov.sk.ca.

For more information, contact:
Bill Greuel, Manager of Research and Development
Phone: (306) 787-9768
E-mail: wgreuel@agr.gov.sk.ca

Outreach project attracting producers to Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

What started out as coffee shop talk grew into a co-ordinated – and rather successful – effort to sell farm families from outside the province on the benefits of relocating to east central Saskatchewan.

The innovative “Last Cattle Frontier” (LCF) project recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of holding seminars and conducting presentations on the merits of farming in the province.

Naomi Paley, a livestock development specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), remembers well the early beginnings of the initiative back in 2002.

“The initial plan of action was to attract Alberta> ranchers to east central Saskatchewan,” she said. “It all began with a small group of individuals traveling in vans to Red Deer to conduct a seminar for cattle producers in the area.”

Paley says that representatives of SAF, Ducks Unlimited, local rural municipalities and area farmers comprised the original group that headed west, although there was a great deal of support for the concept back home.

Over the years, the LCF has conducted 11 seminars and made presentations to over 200 producers. The outreach is geared toward cattle producers thinking of expanding or relocating their operations. Its goal is to promote the benefits of beef farming in east central Saskatchewan, to leave all attendees with good information, and to establish contacts for them throughout the region.

“In many areas of Alberta and other jurisdictions, there’s a lack of available land, and what is available can be rather costly. Some regions have also struggled through some pretty dry years that have really impacted area ranchers,” Paley said.

“We want to impress on them that they can find good land that is well-suited to cattle production in east central Saskatchewan, and it’s probably quite reasonably priced compared to what they’re used to.”

An important part of the outreach is a testimonial by local producers who moved to Saskatchewan from elsewhere. They provide an overview of their experiences relocating to the east central region, enabling those who are contemplating such a move to hear from others who have successfully made the transition.

The area has not only attracted Alberta cattle producers but also producers from British Columbia and even the United Kingdom. “When it comes to marketing Saskatchewan beyond the borders of Alberta, word-of-mouth has been one of our best tools,” said Paley. “When producers come looking for land on which to relocate their ranching operations, Saskatchewanis one of the first places they look. We’ve had producers from all over Western Canada come through here, many of them saying ‘We’ve always heard about Saskatchewan, so we’ve come to check it out.’”

Paley says that attendance at the seminars ranges from “first time lookers” to ranchers who have already been checking into the potential of moving or establishing their livestock operations in Saskatchewan. The audiences have consisted of people of all ages – families with young children, couples ready to retire, and everyone in between.

“The families attending these seminars may not make a decision to move right then and there, but the information gets delivered and the seed is planted,” she noted.

While it’s impossible to attribute all the positive activity to the LCF project, a recent phone survey of rural municipalities in the east central region showed that, over the past seven years, approximately 150 farm families have moved into the area from out of province. Most of these families have been younger farmers, many with young children, who have delivered a welcome boost to the region in terms of increasing the rural population and economy, as well as bringing in new ideas and vitality.

“The LCF project tries to make this incredible decision and transition as easy as possible for farm families by providing them soil maps, aerial photography, pasture assessments, information on schools, hospitals and recreation, and anything else they might require,” Paley stated.

The key to it all, she says, is having a lot of supportive partners involved in the project. Today, the LCF initiative has grown to encompass four Regional Economic Development Authorities, SAF, Ducks Unlimited, the City of Yorkton, and the City of Melville as full project partners.

Numerous other businesses and agencies from all across the region have contributed tremendous financial and marketing support. Real estate companies, the media, local producers, area residents and municipalities have been key allies.

“I think anyone associated with the initiative would tell you that its success has been because of the partners involved and their willingness to share and think from a regional perspective instead of an individual one,” Paley said. “It’s also due to the open-mindedness and big picture view of the benefits that a project like this can have.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Last Cattle Frontier initiative can visit the project’s website at www.lastcattlefrontier.com or call 1-866-800-2676.

For more information, contact:
Naomi Paley, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 786-1686
E-mail: npaley@agr.gov.sk.ca

Additional opportunity for funding through CARDS program

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Groups seeking funding from the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development in Saskatchewan (CARDS) program have until April 23 to submit their applications to the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD).

The CARDS program is an initiative to foster the increased long-term growth, employment and competitiveness of Canada’s agricultural and agri-food industry. The program is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and administered in Saskatchewan by the SCCD.

The organization’s Executive Director Laurie Dmytryshyn says that, while the program is winding up, some money remains available for new applicants.

“A few of our completed projects are coming in below budget,” Dmytryshyn said. “Because of this under-spending, we now have residual funds available for new project applications.”

Since 1995, the CARDS program has provided over $20 million to more than 900 projects in Saskatchewan, assisting them in leveraging over $46 million in total funding. The program includes five areas: Industry and Rural Resource Development, Business Development Activities, Capital Equipment Purchases, Value-Added Development, and Environmental Stewardship.

Dmytryshyn says the Industry and Rural Resource Development area was designed to enhance and strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector through funding for resource development.

“We funded quite a few conferences, workshops, and information packages,” she said. “An excellent example of a project assisted under this category is the partial CARDS funding provided for the display at the Pork Interpretive Centre.”

The program has different criteria targeted to for-profit and non-profit projects.

“If it’s a for-profit organization, we’ll provide a grant in the amount of 50 per cent of the eligible cash costs,” Dmytryshyn said. “If it’s a non-profit organization, we can fund up to 70 per cent. This is where a lot of our commodity associations or food processing groups might fit.”

Another very active area has been Business Development Activities.

“This program area was designed to develop, commercialize, and market new value-added agricultural products and processes in the province,” Dmytryshyn stated. “It will fund market assessments and development, feasibility studies, business plans, prototype development and related activities.”

Dmytryshyn notes that projects applying in the Capital Equipment Purchase category must involve the adoption of technology that is new to the province. An applicant may receive up to 10 per cent of the purchase cost for the new equipment.

Projects in the Value-Added Development category tend to be initiatives launched by industry associations. “The intent of this category is to assist industry in expanding value-added initiatives in processing, and marketing,” she said.

The final category, Environmental Stewardship, aims to increase understanding and support the development of environmentally friendly practices.

While this will be the final round of funding under CARDS, SCCD continues to operate the CARDS program’s successor, the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) initiative. The next deadline for ACAAFS applications is April 16. Details on both programs, along with application forms, are available at www.sccd.sk.ca.

For more information, contact:

Laurie Dmytryshyn, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Council for Community Development
Phone: (306) 975-6849
E-mail: dmytryshynl@sccd.sk.ca
Website: www.sccd.sk.ca

For Saskatoon growers, proper pruning means best bushes

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatoon growers, from the casual backyard gardener to the commercial orchard operator, will want to attend the upcoming saskatoon pruning workshop organized by the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association (SFGA).

The workshop will take place on April 23 at 1:30 p.m. It is being held at Prairie Dome Strawberries and Saskatoons, located 10 kilometres south of Yorkton on Highway #9.

Tonia Vermette, the owner and operator of Prairie Dome, says the seminar will offer a lot of good information to growers. “Pruning techniques are very important in a sasktoon crop, because saskatoons want to be a tree, they don’t want to be a shrub. You have to encourage them otherwise, or else when they get to be about 10 years old, you won’t be able to reach the berries from the ground anymore,” she said.

“Saskatoons only bear on one-year-old wood, and they just grow from the tip. As a result, you want many stems coming from the ground, and you want to keep the plants rejuvenating so that a nice shrub forms and stays that way for 30 years.”

The workshop is being conducted by Clarence Peters, a provincial specialist for fruit crops with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF). “Clarence is the saskatoon specialist in the province,” Vermette noted. “He’s done a lot of research into pruning techniques that make the bushes grow like you want them to.”

Proper pruning of saskatoons will deliver considerable benefits for both large and small growers. For one, it protects the bushes from disease and ensures that infected branches are correctly removed to prevent the disease from spreading.

Pruning also maximizes and stabilizes yields from year to year. “Saskatoons are a biennial crop. You tend to have a really big crop one year, and then a fairly small one the next year,” Vermette said.

“Of course, a lot depends on bloom and weather and pollination, too, but pruning encourages a stable amount of fruit every year. You’re going to try to get the bush to do what you want it to, and that is to produce more consistently.”

It can also make the saskatoons more suitable to harvesting with a mechanical harvester, a device with long metal fingers that protrude into the bushes to shake the berries free.

“Proper pruning will ensure the bushes are shaped so that there’s as little damage as possible to the plant during this process,” Vermette stated.

Registration for the afternoon-long session is $25 per operation, meaning that the single fee will cover multiple delegates wishing to attend from the same farm. Payments can be made at the door.

All registration fees collected from the workshop will be used by the SFGA to fund research and other projects being undertaken to enhance the development of saskatoons and other prairie fruits.

To register or obtain more information on the session, please contact Prairie Dome Strawberries and Saskatoons at (306) 782-7297, visit the operation’s website at www.prairiedome.com, or visit the SFGA website at www.saskfruit.com.

For more information, contact:

Tonia Vermette
Prairie Dome Strawberries and Saskatoons
Phone: (306) 782-7297
Website: www.prairiedome.com

Wednesday, April 4

Americans value family travel

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Vacations are shorter, but Americans still see their trips as a birthright, according to a recent address given by Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Pepperdine, Brown & Russell. Yesawich was keynote speaker at conference reported on by Tom Groening in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News.

Americans with children are seeking to use their vacations to reconnect with the family unit, said Yesawich, who based his report on an annual survey of 1,600 Americans considered active travellers. "Consumers want to reconnect with what they feel is really important in their lives," Yesawich continued, and that something is family. Surveys have shown 71% of parents wish they could spend more time as a family, and 69% wish they had more time to sit and talk with their children. Fully 61% of parents said they are willing to take their children out of school for a family vacation.

The survey also found that the internet is present in 80% of homes, but just 56% of active travellers use the Web exclusively to make travel decisions. Yesawich concludes that the internet's impact as a marketing tool may have reached reached a plateau. Further supporting this view: the survey showed 68% of those using the Web to research travel report having difficulty finding what they want, and 76% report banner ads are a "nuisance." In 1998, banner ads were "clicked" by 4.6% percent of users, compared to just 0.2% today.

Babymoon -- pregnant with possibility

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Many expectant couples are packing their bags and taking one last vacation before the baby arrives. More than half of expectant couples take 'pre-baby' vacations for rest and relaxation, according to an article in USA Today. The travel industry is paying attention. Leading names in travel and parenting now offer the first "Babymoon" vacation packages.

According to a recent survey by Liberty Travel (a large US travel agency) and BabyCenter®, the most popular online resource for new and expectant parents, 59% of new parents have taken a special vacation, or "Babymoon," that included an overnight stay away from home.

"Like Honeymoons, Babymoons have become another special vacation couples take and remember forever," noted Lisa Vachna, a Liberty Travel vacation specialist. "The survey confirmed how important this trip is for expectant couples, and also gave us insights on the special touches that are essential for a perfect Babymoon."

More than two million babymoons are taken by US parents-to-be each year, and 43% of couples are looking for rest and relaxation, while 41% take this trip as 'one final getaway for just us'. The survey also shows that 62% of Babymooners opt to do nothing or just relax, 59% prefer to shop, and 48% prefer sightseeing. The average Babymoon takes place during the second trimester. Typically, the Babymoon is from two to four nights long.

2007 Saskatchewan pasture school likely to fill quickly

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Producers considering attendance at the 2007 Saskatchewan Pasture School should make their decision quickly. The fifth annual event, organized by the Saskatchewan Forage Council, will take place June 13 and 14 in Saskatoon.

“It’s geared towards producers and grazing managers,” said Janice Bruynooghe, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Forage Council. “This forum allows them to gain practical knowledge and expand their management skills through a combination of seminars, hands-on exercises, and pasture tours.”

Attendance at the Pasture School is limited to 50 participants.

“At least 50 per cent of our time is spent in the field on pasture tours,” said Bruynooghe. “We try to keep our numbers small, because when we’re in the field, we like to have enough resource people so that we can break up in small groups and have lots of one-on-one interaction.”

This year’s agenda includes sessions on Calculating Stocking Rates, Matching Grazing Animal Requirements to Forage Quality, Herd Health Concerns on Pasture, and a Producer’s Perspective on Grazing Legumes.

According to Bruynooghe, the school is very interactive.

“We start at the basic level of discussing how grass grows, as well as some of the basic management principles. Then we put pencil to paper in practical exercises. Next, we hop on the bus and get out to do a bunch of pasture tours,” she said.

“We encourage people to get on their hands and knees and do things like plant identification, and to ask lots of questions about how the things they’re seeing pertain to their own operations.”

Through social events, producer presentations, and panel discussion, the Pasture School also provides plenty of opportunity to exchange views.

“The other important learning that goes on is the peer to peer interaction,” Bruynooghe said. “Talking to your neighbour or someone who has a grazing operation in another part of the province, you learn about things that have worked for other producers.”

The 2007 Saskatchewan Pasture School will be held at the Best Western Inn and Suites in Saskatoon. Registration is $132.50 for the first registrant and $106 for any additional registrants from the same operation. The fees are pre-approved for Canadian Agricultural Skills Service eligibility.

The agenda and registration form are available online at www.saskforage.ca.

The Pasture School is a joint project of the Saskatchewan Forage Council, the Western Beef Development Centre, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Ducks Unlimited, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration.

For more information, contact:
Janice Bruynooghe, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Forage Council
Phone: (306) 966-2148
E-mail: jbruynooghe@saskforage.ca
Website: www.saskforage.ca

Anthrax risk still exists for 2007

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan producers are not out of the woods yet when it comes to the anthrax threat.

Last summer, the province experienced its largest outbreak of anthrax ever. The cases mostly occurred in the northeast part of the province, but other areas were not immune.

Authorities are warning that the risk of livestock contracting anthrax this summer has not disappeared. In fact, three cases have already developed in February 2007.

“Anthrax is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act. All suspected cases must be reported to a CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) veterinarian,” said Tracy Evans, a Livestock Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

Three types of anthrax exist: inhalation (breathing in spores), cutaneous (contact with skin), and gastrointestinal (through digestion), which is the most common form in livestock.

Anthrax is considered to be an “environmental” disease, meaning that it is contracted through animals ingesting anthrax spores from the environment, such as soil, water, and forage, and not from other animals.

The anthrax spores enter the animal’s blood stream, causing a rapidly fatal blood infection. When the infected animal dies and the bacilli are exposed to oxygen, more spores are produced and enter the environment.

Due to the hardiness of the anthrax spores to climate and the environment, decades may pass without other cases showing up. Anthrax outbreaks can then occur when the spores are brought to the soil surface by digging or flooding.

The livestock producer’s best defence is to vaccinate. The vaccine is economical and is available from your local veterinarian. Protection occurs seven to 21 days after delivery, and is estimated to be effective for six to 12 months.

“Your veterinarian may or may not recommend a booster shot depending on herd history and the prevalence of anthrax in your area,” Evans noted.

Vaccinated animals cannot be treated with antibiotics within eight days before or after administering the vaccine, as it will inactivate the vaccine. Withdrawal time for slaughter is 42 days after the last dose was administered.

Care in handling the vaccine is important to the success of the vaccine. As per label recommendations, it must be stored between two and seven degrees Celsius, shaken well before use, and not used in conjunction with antibiotics or disinfectants used to sterilize equipment.

Vaccinating for anthrax can be done at the same time as inoculating for blackleg, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine virus diarrhoea (BVD), parainfluenza-3 (PI3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV).

Anthrax does not discriminate by age. Therefore, calves, replacement heifers, yearlings, cows and bulls should all be vaccinated. This vaccine does not pass along passive immunity to an unborn calf, as do some other MLV (modified live vaccines). The minimum age for vaccination is eight weeks, and optimal is four to six months.

“CFIA recommends that if you are within 10 kilometres of a positive premise, meaning a quarter of land where a positive case was diagnosed, you should vaccinate,” Evans said.

“Given the size of last year’s outbreak, and the comparable environmental conditions between now and then, there is some concern we could see a similar scenario in 2007. Local veterinarians can provide producers with the recommendations for their areas.”

A map highlighting the location of anthrax outbreaks in Saskatchewan in 2006 and 2007 can be found on the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan website at www.facs.sk.ca.

Additional information on anthrax can be also obtained from SAF, CFIA, Saskatchewan Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and your local veterinarian.

For more information, contact:
Tracy Evans, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 878-8847
E-mail: tevans@agr.gov.sk.ca

Dr. Mary VanderKop DVM, Disease Surveillance Veterinarian
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-8661

Biofuels opportunities program gets funding boost

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The federal government has committed an additional $10 million in funding to support projects under the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI).

Of that amount, $3 million is allocated to projects already submitted for the 2006-07 fiscal year, due to higher than anticipated demand. The other $7 million is now in place for projects submitted during the upcoming 2007-08 fiscal year.

The BOPI program is intended to help reach the national government’s goal of five per cent renewable fuel content in transport fuel by 2010. Its specific objective is to help agricultural producers in the development of sound and well-documented business plans for projects that have significant producer ownership, which is defined as greater than one-third under the eligibility requirements.

The program is delivered in Saskatchewan by the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD). The group’s Communications Manager Dallas Carpenter says the intent is to get producers involved as owners of the value chain.

“The real key here is that the program is aiming to get more producers involved in the production facilities, so that the producers are not just providing feedstock, but they’re actually sharing in the benefits of the end product,” said Carpenter.

For the purposes of the program, agricultural producers are defined as individuals, corporations, partnerships, co-operatives or other associations engaged in commercial agricultural production, with at least $10,000 in annual gross farm sales.

Funding can be used for four areas of activity: 1) hiring technical, financial, and business planning advisers to assist in developing business proposals that create or expand biofuels production capacity; 2) undertaking feasibility studies and other studies required to support business proposals; 3) investigating the pre-commercialization of biofuels-related research; and 4) gathering information to help determine opportunities and provide necessary input to generate industry involvement. Priority will be given to projects involving the first two areas.

Approved projects may receive up to $300,000 in funding, with at least 25 per cent of the project cost being invested as cash by the initiators of the project.

Carpenter says that projects submitted in Saskatchewan will be adjudicated by the SCCD board of directors, but their recommendation is not a guarantee of funding.

“It will all depend on where the greater demand is,” said Carpenter. “If our board receives a project, it will not mean that it will necessarily be allocated funding – that will be up to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.”

The closing date for BOPI project applications is June 22, 2007. They will be forwarded to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in September.

“We really want to emphasize the June 22 deadline, and stress that if there’s greater demand in Saskatchewan, there could be more of that funding coming here,” said Carpenter. “We want to strongly encourage any of the producer groups who are interested to get their applications in.”

More information on the BOPI program, its criteria and the application process is available from the SCCD at 1-800-641-8256, or online at www.sccd.sk.ca/bopi.

For more information, contact:
Dallas Carpenter, Communications Officer
Saskatchewan Council for Community Development Inc.
Phone: (306) 975-6856
E-mail: carpenterd@sccd.sk.ca
Website: www.sccd.sk.ca

Pesticide stewardship program returns to Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A program to collect and safely dispose of unwanted and obsolete agricultural pesticides will return to Saskatchewan in 2007. Collection dates are planned for October 23 to 25.

According to Wayne Gosselin in Environmental Policy with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, the last province-wide sweep of Saskatchewan occurred in three phases in 1999, 2000 and 2001. More than 156,000 kilograms of obsolete pesticides were collected.

The program was run as a joint initiative involving the federal government, the provincial government, and industry. “We all quite enjoyed the program,” Gosselin said. “Everybody found their place and pitched in, and the effort delivered terrific benefits. People were bringing stuff out that was 20 years old.”

This year, the program will be run as a three-day province-wide blitz, again involving government and industry stakeholders. Agricultural producers will be able to dispose of outdated, unusable and/or no longer registered agricultural crop protection products.

“We’re expecting that another 100 to 150 tonnes of pesticide could come out again,” Gosselin said.

Crop protection products destined for disposal will be accepted at designated certified Agrichemical Warehouse Standards Association collection sites throughout Saskatchewan. “I expect there will be around 50 collection points, with the idea being that most areas of the province would be somewhere within 50 kilometres or so of a drop-off site,” Gosselin said.

The pesticides collected will then be disposed of at environmentally safe facilities approved by Saskatchewan Environment.

CropLife Canada is the industry umbrella group that represents the manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products. Under its mandate of “working responsibly to protect people and the environment,” it is cost-sharing the initiative with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada so that it can be delivered at no cost to producers.

“We are pleased to be part of a program that provides farmers with a safe, effective and cost-free way to properly dispose of unwanted products,” CropLife Canada Vice President of Stewardship Cam Davreux said.

“This program is a great example of how government, grower organizations and industry can work co-operatively towards a better environment.”

Unwanted and obsolete agricultural herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides will be collected at the drop-off sites, but other products such as antifreeze, solvents, paints, and treated seed will not be accepted.

Details of the program, including a list of collection sites, will be publicized through an extensive advertising and direct mail campaign closer to the collection dates. Agricultural dealers across the province will be provided with a list of collection sites and additional information to assist farmers in identifying obsolete products. All pesticides will be accepted, including those without valid Canadian Pest Control Act numbers. For safety reasons, however, all containers must be labelled.

“Please make sure containers are leak-free and a pesticide name is written on every container,” Davreux said. “If you no longer know what the pesticide is, label the container ‘pesticide unknown.’”

For more information, ask your farm supply dealer; phone the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.


For more information, contact:

Wayne Gosselin, Environmental Policy and Strategic Planning
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-6586
E-mail: wgosselin@agr.gov.sk.ca