CAAR | February 2024


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FEBRUARY 2024 3 CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS FEBRUARY 2024 | V.45 | N.01 4 Executive Director’s Message 5 Increasing your company’s reputation 11 Show your mature workforce the love they deserve 12 The world of seed technology: things to know for 2024 16 The current state of agricultural testing 19 The world is not enough 26 5 agricultural technology trends to watch in 2024 28 News: CN expands its central US reach 30 By the numbers INDEX OF ADVERTISERS Agvise Laboratories CAAR Hi Tech Installations Ltd. Marcus Construction Meridian Manufacturing Inc. 2, 32 5-10 Coulda been a contender? Try branding Looking to separate yourself from the competition? Learn how brand marketing can help turn your individuality into a brand people recognize. 12-15 2024 forecast on seed breeding and crop genetics A report from the Seed World Group looks at the Canadian world of seed technology and how it could drive our crop economics. pundapanda/ iStock/Getty Images Plus photo gemenacom/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo jimfeng/E+ photo 19-25 The Canadian GHG emissions update After agreeing to the 2015 Paris Agreement arrived at by the United Nations and some 196 countries to reduce global GHG emissions by 2030, how is Canada doing, and will it make the goal?

4 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR Views, Considerations & Unknowns for 2024 With 2024 upon us, the agriculture trade show and seminar season is now in full swing. Per the course, temperatures drop below -20ºC with windchill values >35ºC. It’s an annual occurrence that is accepted by the agriculture communities. Not that we can do anything about it. These tradeshows and seminars provide an opportunity to update, communicate, and strengthen business and social relationships. Agriculture is an industry that remains steadfast on the value of personal relationships and handshake commitments. As one of the high-risk reward actions throughout the year, attending trade shows and seminars also provides opportunities to understand all the national and international influences on Canadian agriculture’s success. This leads me to consider the impact of global actions, trade, and imports and exports. Seabound logistics disruptions are expanding within the Middle East due to Gaza, Israel, and Yemen region hostilities. In December, global shipping giants MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM Group, Maersk Line Evergreen, and OOCL announced rerouting, temporarily suspending, pausing, or outright stopping shipping through the Red Sea region. Another round of seaway logistics disruption begins. What is the longterm effect on container and bulk vessel availability? Have they increased freight and insurance costs? What is the downstream impact on the country of origin’s production, export logistics, and input costs? Is it time for a hard pushback on Canadian green ideology, coupled with carbon taxes penalizing agriculture production in Canada? The mandates of the European Union and Commission—New Green Deal and Field to Fork—have hit a boiling point in the new year. It started in Holland and France with protests and the election of pro-agriculture parties in response to legislation(s) that burdened farmers with additional costs, essentially forcing operations to collapse. Germany’s Net Zero agenda, accompanied by crippling diesel tax hikes, has resulted in tens of thousands of German farmers with tractors congregating in protest in Berlin. Farmers from other EU countries are chipping in. It is reported that at least a hundred tractors and trucks from Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Holland joined in protests over the weekend. The sounds, sense of community, and regional support are similar to a truck convoy protest in Ottawa. Restrictions, mandatory vaccines, and preventing a valued group of logistics providers from earning a living were the main reasons for the protest. EU farmers have similar issues. Ideology dating protection practices. Burdening taxes. They are limiting who can and cannot earn a living through agriculture. Finally, let’s focus on Canada. Similar issues arise with ideology. Will Canada have any impact at all by reducing greenhouse emissions? Manmade contributions to greenhouse gases remain up for debate. Attempts to remove the carbon tax burden on production agriculture have been throttled. Nitrogen fertilizer emissions have become a new contentious point. The question remains: are there viable alternative solutions for farmers? Is the carbon tax a revenue generator for failed federal policies? Or is this a means to cap Canadian agriculture production similar to what is experienced within the oil and gas industry? The federal government promotes investments in alternative nutrient sources and uses while subsidizing soil testing. The argument remains: is this the most efficient use of tax dollars, or are there more legacy research and solutions that increase productivity, return on investment, yield stable characteristics, and are recognized as contributing to environmental stewardship? I refuse to use the term sustainability. It has become another catchall virtual signalling term. Canadian agriculture will adjust accordingly, yet stand firm where needed. The greatest challenge facing Canadian agriculture is not international; it is federal environmental policies that need more business outcomes. Mitch Rezansoff Executive Director EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE Produce. Protect. Proud. PUBLISHER 205 - 1 Wesley Avenue Winnipeg, MB R3C 4C6 TF: 800-463-9323 | T: 204-989-9300 E: | W: Executive Director: Mitch Rezansoff Marketing, Communications & Event Manager: Nikeisha Paul-Hunninghan Distribution: PUBLISHING PARTNER 90 Woodlawn Road W Guelph, ON N1H 1B2 Tel: 888-248-4893 Email: Website: CONTRIBUTORS: Ron Baruchi, Agmatix Shaun Holt, Alveo Technologies Marc Zienkiewicz, Seed World Group Denise Faguy, Associate Editor Andrew Joseph, Editor COVER dzika_mrowka/iStock/Getty Images Plus DESIGN & LAYOUT Tanya Myers ADVERTISING SALES Andrew Bawden Director of Business Development and Digital Media 877-438-5729 X 5030 Email: Website: NEXT AD BOOKING DEADLINE March 14, 2024 ANNUAL PUBLICATION SCHEDULE February, April, August, October, December © 2024 The Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers. CAAR makes no expressed or implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or otherwise, concerning the use of any product or fertilizer and assumes no liability for any injury or damage, direct or consequential, which may be incurred from the use of such products or services therein. Federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations supersede the information contained herein. Canadian Mail Publications Sales Agreement #42518524 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 90 Woodlawn Rd W, Guelph, ON N1H 1B2 Printed in Canada. Please recycle where facilities exist. FOLLOW US ON

FEBRUARY 2024 5 BRAND MARKETING A company is often only as good as how the customer or consumer perceives it to be. It doesn’t even matter if the products or services have even been sampled—because, for the consumer, all that matters is whether what they have heard about the company, or that the new product is positive or negative. Welcome to social media, aka the 21st-century version of word-of-mouth. But for you, the retailer, word-of-mouth is probably not even close to being enough. There are ways you can improve upon what the consumer hears—you may even say that you can control it—which you can do to a certain degree. But it will take a bit of work, and if you aren’t willing to do that, then as you sow... It’s the concept of brand marketing, which, if you Google it, has multiple opinions on just what it is. Let’s see if we can narrow it down. For example, Amazon said, “Brand marketing is promoting a brand’s products or services in a way that elevates the brand as a whole.” It sounds pretty straightforward, but it doesn’t explain anything. The Amazon definition continues, however, stating that “it involves creating and maintaining brand-consumer relationships and marketing brand attributes— the traits that people think of when they picture a particular brand.” That’s better. What does the farming community think of when they see you—XYZ Company? Do they immediately think of a superior seed producer or a tractor dealer? They should, because that’s the ultimate goal of brand marketing. It is what will ensure brand loyalty. But let’s look at things closely. For one thing, branding and marketing are two completely different things. Increasing your company’s brand reputation A well-thought-out brand marketing campaign will help you grow and promote your brand. By Andrew Joseph, Editor Although marketing has nothing to do with branding, branding has something to do with marketing. When done correctly, brand marketing can take your company to the next level of success. Panuwat Dangsungnoen/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

6 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR Branding always comes first for a company—it shows consumers who your business is for (the dairy community or organic produce, for example). It also tells the consumer what your company is about, such as whether you are a precision ag technology specialist. Marketing? That’s how you build awareness of your brand. So, marketing has nothing to do with branding, but branding has something to do with marketing. Now that you know the difference, we can tell you that there are different types of brand marketing, though the end goal is always the same. Because it’s always good to have the experts involved, cutting-edge AI software company ONPASSIVE ( said that the top five most common types of brand marketing are: 1. Product Branding; 2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Branding; 3. Enterprise Branding; 4. Public relations (PR) Branding, and; 5. Social Media Marketing. As an agricultural retailer or manufacturer, you may focus on any one or all of the above, but plain old brand marketing trumps them all because it focuses on all of them. But, like we first alluded to, there’s no quick and dirty fix. It will take time and commitment because brand marketing is a long game. And though it takes time to unravel, it works. How to do brand marketing Brand marketing involves growing a base of loyal customers by communicating and growing your brand’s identity and values. That means letting people know all about you, your shop, and, of course, your products—but it also means taking things further to ensure you gain repeat customers and more sales. For example, regarding tractors, North American farmers know all about Case IH, John Deere, Kubota, Massey Ferguson, and New Holland (and others, of course). But what about those people who don’t plant fields of corn or soybeans? What about the urbanite? Massey Ferguson may ring a bell among an older crowd, but everyone—in ag or outside of it—knows about John Deere. This isn’t to put any of those brands down. It’s to point out that John Deere has developed brand recognition even outside the ag industry and into the urban schoolground. But outside of knowing that “Nothing runs like a Deere”, we would be hard-pressed to find the average person knowing that the company makes anything more than “tractors.” In other words, while the company is certainly thriving and far-reaching, John Deere’s brand marketing still has a limit to its reach. But we didn’t mean to demean any of the other companies. We are sure that Deere, Case IH, Kubota, Massey Ferguson, and New Holland et al., are wellknown and well-respected by a large swathe of the ag population, who provide each with repeat business purchasing their noteworthy brands. Number One The first step a company must take to succeed is to determine what the company is, to whom you wish to serve, and how you wish to serve them. Let’s suppose you have a grain storage facility or a brick-and-mortar shop in Anytown, Canada, or Smalltown, US. In that case, you need to determine if your goal is to service that area, a larger portion of the province, the entire provincial area (the Maritimes, for example), or all of Canada, which may include international business. If your business is online only, which of those above-noted areas will you serve? Do you have restrictions—such as not selling fertilizer to such countries? It’s okay. We’ve seen such restrictions placed on the online auction site eBay. It’s the seller’s prerogative, but hopefully that’s as far as it should go. Or perhaps your Anytown brick-and-mortar shop is the centrepiece of your ag retail empire. That initial building could be your high-end showcase, where people will want to travel to a place to see and test-drive something they might not otherwise get a chance to do elsewhere. While the point here is to create a customer destination that is the place to be, it can also have an online sales presence to widen your customer service area of attention or to service those unable to travel to your destination shop. Whichever way you choose to do it, it boils down to the services you care to provide—and how you will give them. The How Now that you know who you are, what you are selling, and to whom, how do you tell people you exist to serve them? BRAND MARKETING

FEBRUARY 2024 7 Word-of-mouth is great. But for people under the age of 30—and a more tech-savvy person over 30—social media is considered the “how.” From the website, we found some questions the ag retailer needs to ask and answer for itself. • What are your core principles and values? • What is your mission statement? • What inspired you to build your business? • Why do you want to offer your products or services to your target audience? • What makes you unique? • What is your internal company culture? • What is your professional sense of style? • What are your communication characteristics? • What do you want people to consider when they hear your business name? • How do you want people to feel when they think of your business? • How do you want customers to describe you as a company? For some ag retailers opting to specialize in a brand, we could include: “Why do you want to offer your products or services to your target audience?” This is not a CEO/COO/HR exercise, and it isn’t a one-person job. Even if you are the company founder and head mucky-muck and think you have all of the answers to your company’s direction—you may, and may not—how do you know your answers are correct and not just your opinion? As hopefully everyone knows, everyone’s opinion is always 100 percent correct because it’s their opinion, but that doesn’t mean they are all correct morally or even factually. It’s just an opinion, and one’s opinion is always correct. While you may run your business with a “my shop, my rules” methodology, when it comes to brand marketing, it’s a good idea to step back and involve as many people as possible—that you trust—to help you answer the questions above, obviously with a bit of rewording to suit your business. Take a gander at those above questions—uniqueness? What does that mean? Uniqueness is what separates you from another company that sells seeds and fertilizers. You may specialize in a particular brand and provide free advice from a real agronomist you pay for. When prospective customers hear your company name, are they thinking good thoughts or bad ones? You have a role in determining which way that unfolds. joshblake/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

8 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR Maybe your shop sells hip clothing rather than only plaid—unless plaid is hip in 2024—and only if “hip” is “hip.” Do you decorate the front of your shop so it’s colourful, or do your customers prefer your shop to be “less exciting” or “staid” while offering excellent service? Style over substance, or substance over style? What type of company are you when it comes to communication? Do you shun social media in favour of shaking hands with everyone who comes through your door? What are your communication characteristics? Do you use social media properly, or prefer to print out flyers? Someone must, because there’s certainly a lot of advertising mail delivered weekly to homes. Like it or not, social media needs to be employed— and not just to see funny cat and dog memes. It would be best to use a few social media apps you are already comfortable with, or, you can try them all because you are daring. Perhaps you can start a blog about what’s going on in your company. Your website… Is it just a website, or an up-todate place that shows off this week’s specials? Consider how you want to be treated when you visit another company’s website. If you are looking for a new pair of work boots, do you want to see an outdated sale for boots no longer offered? No! You want to utilize an up-to-date website that won’t waste your time. When a consumer hears your business name, you want them to think that you “are their go-to place for X-widgets, because I get great service and a better price. And the company listens to what I need and suggests options.” Sometimes, your company has been earmarked for success because it was a pioneer—such as eBay or PayPal. Then again, we’ve also seen many social media sites come and go as people seem to like the hot new thing—Myspace was the most prominent social media site until Facebook came and sent it to the scrap heap of ignominy. What’s Your Strategy? In order to do what you want, you must create a business strategy. And, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and making lots of money. There is no one way to do things in a business— even if you sell the same product because you and your competitor do so from different locations. If you are across the street from one another, why? Regardless, you need to create a strategy that works best for the unique entity that you are. We need to figure out what your brand story is. Stop the eye-rolling. This is advice on how to take things to the next level, and that means stepping outside of your staid comfort box. To figure out your brand story, we looked at www. and noted that people will respond emotionally to a well-crafted story—and that a good brand story will make your marketing more effective. Your brand story does not have to be long-winded. It could be something as simple as “Ag Retail Shop X always has what you need” or maybe more esoteric: “Ag Retail Shop X makes magic a reality.” Whatever. The brand story is something that can be discussed in a few seconds, expanded on a webpage, or used as a tagline on a social media profile. A great example is from Campbell Soup. When it introduced its new Chicken Soup back in the 1930s, it turned the phrase MMM MMM GOOD! A hit with consumers, the company quickly made it their official slogan. Or, as Coca-Cola did, It’s the Real Thing! What’s your brand story? Application Made Easy Suppose you are a rock-crushing company with a brand story that is copyrighted as “I wanna rock.” How do you tell people about yourself? Know your audience. Sometimes social media isn’t for your crowd. Perhaps your audience prefers to hear from your company through door-to-door mail marketing. Two examples are having either the post office or a willing family member deliver it. Or your audience may prefer to hear about it as an ad on TV, the radio, or in an excellent magazine like the CAAR Communicator. You could pick a single method and roll with it, but the best advice we can provide is to market via multiple channels, especially when considering so-called social media. But which social media platform? There are plenty to choose from, and you may not be familiar with all of them. So, choose the ones you are most comfortable with. And then, because it’s not supposed to be easy, choose a social media platform where you believe your audience is most active. Though Facebook/Meta was once the social media site, its audience is older. And if that older audience is whom you wish to market to, have at it. But sometimes younger people have money and farms, too. BRAND MARKETING

FEBRUARY 2024 9 Younger consumers—regardless of whether they are involved in ag or not—are more likely to use TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. But lest we slag Facebook for being “old,” some 2.9 billion monthly engagements occur on the site— more than any other social media app. The website noted that in 2022, 18.2 percent of US adults made a purchase via Facebook, and 66 percent of its users visited a local business page at least once a week. Some other social media apps to consider becoming involved with are: WhatsApp; Facebook Messenger; WeChat; X (Twitter); Snapchat; Pinterest; and LinkedIn—and because it works, one social media site—Hootsuite—to manage all your social media apps. Your writer has used it effectively. You need to know exactly who your audience is and plan accordingly. “Farmers” seems to be a straightforward enough of answer. But does your operation sell fertilizer? Does it sell tractors, combines, or both? Does it sell specifically to grain, root, fruit, or pulse farmers? Vineyards? Milk, beef, pork, mutton, or tur-duckhen? You know what we mean. Do you sell herbicides and pesticides, and for whom? Do you need to market to an older, more experienced customer, or cater to a younger, more social media-engaged farmer? With all of those sites mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, you can engage in paid marketing campaigns, or post and host stuff on each of those sites for free. As part of the ag industry, we know that margins can be razor thin, and while the initial thought may be that you cannot afford to “waste” money on a paid campaign, sometimes you can’t afford not to spend money to make money. Using eBay as a non-linear example, if you are selling a product on that site, you hope that people will search for and see your product as one they want. However, eBay also allows sellers the opportunity to promote their product on the site for the entire time it is up for sale. This writer has seen upwards of 40 percent more viewers interested in similar products at least take a look at what he has had up for sale, and sometimes that interest is further piqued into a bid or a purchase. While there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be using that site for your purchases, we have seen companies try and sell mechanical products this way. However, the point we are trying to drill home is Don’t do it alone! Work together with your team to determine the best way to perform brand marketing to separate yourself from companies that sell similar products. andresr/E+ photo

10 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR BRAND MARKETING that even spending a few extra dollars on a promoted product on a social media site will garner additional consumer views on what you are selling. While it may not always lead to a sale, it provides you with a better chance of one. Now What? When it comes to brand marketing, sometimes half the battle can be ensuring that the marketing campaign is being “liked’ enough by customers to want to learn more about the product and who will then ultimately purchase the product. If you as a retailer offer excellent customer service, and by that we mean: website accessibility and ease of use, on-time delivery of the product without damage, having staff instore offering excellent knowledge and expedient help, dressing in attire entirely pleasing to consumers (no one in the Winnipeg or Calgary shop is wearing a hated Leafs jersey, for example), or how the shop is set up (no one needs to step over anything to get down an aisle), and like what products you have to sell and the price you offer them at—well, you can be sure you have become that customer’s only place to shop for ag-related items. From all of the above, it is highly evident that brand marketing doesn’t end with an ad placed in a magazine, on the radio or TV, or a social media site. You must consistently meet multiple layers of customer satisfaction. This is done until the customer has the ag product in hand and seeks you out later for return business. And it doesn’t even end there. You may have talked to the customer about how they should use the product they are buying, but did you take the time to give them physical instructions or send them a link to some online instructions? People may say that they understand everything you have told them—but how about you and your company going the extra mile or kilometre and ensuring there’s no misunderstanding? And here’s a bit of brand marketing that works both ways—for you and the customer. For small, low-level sales items that a customer may have spent a few bucks on—rather than having them pay in money, ask if they would instead save the money or save half-price or whatever percentage makes sense—and write an online review for your business on Yelp, for example. To ensure it gets done, they should spend five minutes and do so in front of you or your sales staff— and everyone is happy. You get a positive online review, and the customer saves some money and gets the product they want or need. Reviews are required in today’s retail experience. For example, would you not take advantage of an appliance store’s online reviews for a particular product if you needed to purchase a new stove for your house? You should! If you aren’t reviewing reviews to get the skinny on the product, you aren’t doing your due diligence. Other customers do the same at your ag retail shop, so you should, too. Before the advent of digital social media, a customer would discuss your shop, its staff, and your products via word of mouth or would simply have stopped their patronage. Word of mouth via social media can easily make or break a company—even for a company that doesn’t use social media. That one’s easy—even if you and your shop aren’t social media savvy and are not online, your customer base probably is. They might go online and discuss all the positives or all the negatives of your business, and you might never know or understand why your sales have dropped off. The next step is up to you, the retailer—you must become physically involved. As a retail shop owner, you can undertake brand marketing yourself, but it still takes a lot of work and requires multiple skill sets, such as being well-versed in multiple social media platforms or being able to create a succinct business message. It can be a daunting undertaking. If you aren’t sure how to go about doing anything mentioned here, you should first see if anyone on your staff has the necessary skills. Failing that, seek third-party advice and help. But even then, do your due diligence. Many companies specialize in brand marketing, and while they might be very good at their job of creating a brand marketing campaign for you, it will cost money. The companies will also ask many questions to create that brand marketing strategy. Still, aside from rewording, the questions will be similar to what has been presented in this article. Regardless of which way the wind blows on how your campaign is formulated, it behooves you to look at the questions here and contemplate the answers to them. Having answers to those questions about your business core will help you create a more profitable agricultural business retail shop in both the short- and long-run.

FEBRUARY 2024 11 HUMAN RESOURCES If there’s one thing all within CAAR can agree upon, is that it’s tough finding people to fill key agriculture positions. Sometimes we spend so much time trying to fill vacant positions that we forget to acknowledge the hard work of our loyal team members who remain, especially those who may have been with you for an extended period. A key benefit you can offer your more seasoned employees is often unrecognized. It is how you, as an employer, can cater to the changing needs of your employees as they progress through different life stages. For these employees, navigating the professional landscape in the latter half of their career can be as challenging as it is rewarding. At the heart of this approach is the understanding that the requirements and aspirations of employees continue to evolve. Early career stages might prioritize learning and development, whereas the latter half often shifts towards stability, work-life balance, and preparing for retirement. Progressive employers acknowledge this shift and adapt their policies accordingly. Financial planning is a key element of this support, which is particularly vital in times of economic uncertainty and inflation. The best employers are not just offering competitive salaries but are going the extra mile to equip their staff with financial literacy skills. This includes providing access to financial advisors, pension planning assistance, and training in basic investment and budgeting. Such initiatives not only aid employees in their immediate financial management but also better prepares them for a secure retirement. This comprehensive approach to employee welfare signifies a deeper understanding of the long-term needs of your workforce. It is felt that employers who are recognized for their supportive policies towards mature employees not only offer a stable work environment but also demonstrate a commitment to the holistic growth and well-being of their staff. This trend marks a positive shift in employer-employee dynamics, where the focus is on long-term mutual growth and satisfaction. Show your mature workforce the love they deserve Learn how the top employers support the ever-evolving needs of their employees through their changing career phases. By Denise Faguy, Associate Editor Work-life balance and financial planning advice for older employees shows them your company cares about their physical and emotional growth alongside your company. VioletaStoimenova/E+ photo

12 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR SEEDS 2024 Right now exciting things are on the horizon for the seed sector in the new year, and some of them could positively affect retailers. To help your customers become better prepared, here’s a forecast. Watch for the Results of a Major Soil Health Study Soil health is more important than ever, so much so that a senate committee is going across the country to study it. According to Canadian Senator Robert Black from Ontario—who is spearheading the country’s first national senate soil health study in 40 years—urbanization, pollution, and climate change are among the key factors contributing to the degradation of soils. “In the past, the importance of soil health and carbon sequestration was not as widely recognized as it is today. It’s imperative that the health of Canada’s soils is assessed and managed more comprehensively to ensure long-term sustainability,” Black stated. The discourse on soil health has evolved considerably over the past 40 years, Black said, adding that the discourse is creating more awareness of soil health within the ag community. “Back in the 1980s, the focus was primarily on traditional farming practices like summer fallowing. However, today, we’re witnessing the emergence of new technologies, products, and practices designed The world of seed technology: things to know for 2024 With science changing along with the seasons, we look at the world of seed technology, offering a forecast. By Marc Zienkiewicz, Senior Editor of Seed World Group In 2024, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will issue new guidance on when plant-derived ingredients need a feed pre-market assessment. Canada’s approach could affect how fast new seed varieties come to market. Eugene Nekrasov/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

FEBRUARY 2024 13 to enhance soil health,” related Black. The committee has visited various research locations across Canada, including the University of Saskatchewan and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa. It has issued some preliminary vital findings that could lead to new initiatives to help farmers sustain and improve soil health. Findings from the committee include: 1. Soil Plays a Crucial Role in Food Production: Soil is the fundamental component in our food production, offering vital nutrients, water, oxy- gen, and essential root support for plants. Im- proved soil quality translates to increased food yield from less land, which mainly benefits re- mote and urban areas grappling with limited farmland and helps address the global demand for food. 2. Farming Practices Can Enhance Soil Health: Adopting no-till methods preserves valuable soil microorganisms crucial for plant growth. Plant- ing cover crops is emerging as an increasingly popular strategy to minimize erosion. Addition- ally, soil mapping and water management technology advancements empower farmers to be better stewards of soil health. 3. Soil Health and Climate Change are Interconnected: Climate change effects— including extreme weather events, altered rainfall patterns, and rising temperatures— impact soil health in multiple ways, including through erosion. Conversely, well-managed soil acts as a carbon sink, contributing significantly to the fight against climate change. 4. We must Protect Soil as a Resource: Soil, a finite resource that requires centuries to form, faces imminent threats from urbanization, pollu- tion, and climate change. The repercussions of these stressors extend to food accessibility, water quality, ecosystems, and the livelihoods of many Canadians. Watch for the full study to be published at The Industry Plan to Sell More Seed As farms merge and expand, one farm can now farm the same land area that used to belong to 10 farms. However, this change has not significantly affected the number of seeds sold in Canada. Quality, certified seed is an important input for retailers and a crucial resource for growers. In 2024, the seed industry will continue an important discussion about certified seed that began at 2023’s AgSmart event in Olds, Alberta. Held as part of the Field Crop Development Centre Field Day, the AgSmart event included a panel discussion facilitated by Seed World Canada magazine. It shed light on why increasing certified seed use is vital to the health of agriculture. It saw four well-known members of the Alberta seed community offer their thoughts on how to secure the future of Canadian agriculture through certified seed. The panel featured Sheri Strydhorst, a wellknown agronomy researcher and owner of Sheri’s Ag Consulting; Jeff Jackson, the General Manager of SeedNet Canada; Chelsea Tomlinson, the seed grower and operator of True Seeds; and Greg Stamp, the Seed Sales Manager for Stamp Seeds. The panel discussion revolved around the challenges faced by the Canadian farming industry, particularly those within the realm of seed breeding and adopting new crop genetics. Jackson expressed his concerns about farm consolidation. Stamp followed by stating that it’s clear we are falling short in communicating the benefits of genetics effectively. To illustrate this, Stamp started with the example of canola seed—a significant crop in Western Canada that has seen remarkable growth over the decades. “Despite the continuously rising cost of canola seed, farmers haven’t been deterred from planting more acres,” he said. However, he added that a contrasting narrative emerges regarding certified seeds for cereal crops. “Many perceive the cost as too high, but I believe we need to reshape this perspective,” commented Stamp. “We must work on conveying the message that this isn’t merely an expense; it’s an investment in securing the best possible future for our crops. “It appears that growers often miss this crucial aspect, and I think there’s a significant effort required to bridge this gap in understanding,” noted Stamp. Strydhorst acknowledged that it’s the seed industry’s responsibility to shoulder the task of education. “Whenever I come across a fellow grower and inquire about the variety they’re cultivating, and they mention an old variety, I can’t help but feel like there’s so much untapped potential in alternative varieties,” she related. “And I liken this situation to someone choosing to use a combine from the 1970s when they have the option to upgrade to newer models.”

14 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR The challenge here is that growers might not yet fully comprehend the remarkable benefits that genetics can bring to their crops, making education crucial, as Tomlinson suggested. Taking responsibility and ready to do something about it, seed industry stakeholders will begin an informational campaign in 2024 to bring awareness to the need for greater certified seed adoption. Seed Regulatory Modernization Next Phase The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently released its much-anticipated Seed Regulatory Modernization (SRM) “What We Heard.” The report reveals the results of its SRM pre-consultation survey. The report summarizes the stakeholder feedback on the SRM Task Team’s recommendations in several key areas. The overall result of the SRM process is to create a seed system that meets the needs of modern and future generations. The report is detailed but provides a summary of something very relevant to retailers: the question of whether or not Canada should continue to have a variety registration system. The CFIA’s Variety Registration Office (VRO) registers varieties of most crops in Canada. According to the report, there was strong support for our variety registration system. Survey respondents said: • Variety registration creates a high level of trust, as the quality of traits is consistent in the seeds and crops grown in Canada. This equips farmers to decide what they grow while maintaining end-user confidence for products to be compet- itive in the market. • There are marketing, branding, and reputational benefits to using registered seed varieties in Canada’s grain variety registration and classifica- tion system. • The variety registration system should be made available to those crops and value chains that see value in this process, allowing them to de- cide on participation or placement within a national variety registration system. During the winter of 2023–24, the CFIA plans to hold its second SRM consultation. The first consultation covered three task teams: variety registration; seed standards and grade tables; and seed certification. With the upcoming consultation, attention will shift to the remaining task team recommendations and working group suggestions. The topics for discussion will include common seed, testing, and the import and export of seed. According to Wendy Jahn, the National Manager for the CFIA Seed Section, once this consultation is complete and the CFIA has conducted its analysis, it will have a clearer sense of direction. “In 2024, we intend to release a policy paper outlining our findings. We’re keen on obtaining input on this paper, and we’re exploring the possibility of a cross-country tour. The idea is to visit different provinces, bring stakeholders together, and engage in discussions. So, before reaching a final decision, there will be several opportunities for input and discussion,” she explained. CFIA Offers Pre-Market Assessment Guidance In 2024, the federal government will complete its new guidance on how quickly new seed products that utilize gene editing techniques can be brought to market. The CFIA recently issued its draft guidance document titled “Determining the Need for Pre-Market Assessment for Plant-Derived Ingredients.” The document is designed to offer transparency concerning the circumstances in which plant-derived ingredients necessitate a pre-market assessment as outlined in the Feeds Regulations. The CFIA said that it is also seeking to provide detailed insights into the defining attributes of plants that may lead to classifying an ingredient as novel in the context of livestock feed. The move is the third step in revamping Canada’s regulatory landscape, as it concerns the CFIA’s Plants with Novel Traits (PNT) regulations. The first two pieces of the puzzle were the CFIA’s reviews of its PNT guidelines regarding the environment and food. The CFIA has already released guidance on those areas, but policymakers and others in the industry have been waiting for public consultation regarding animal feed. Ian Affleck, the Vice-President of Plant Biotechnology for CropLife Canada, said in May 2023 that guidance on pre-market assessment for plant ingredients in animal feed is needed to help researchers move forward in using modern plant breeding technologies like gene editing to create powerful new technologies faster. Seed products developed using gene editing that are not considered novel would be equivalent to their SEEDS 2024

FEBRUARY 2024 15 existing counterparts and would not require pre-market assessments. However, products with novel traits could affect the environment and human or animal health. Each would need to be evaluated by the CFIA and Health Canada before they could be sold. “It’s important that we finish the third leg of the stool, so to speak, so that this technology has full access in Canada,” Affleck said. New Seed Campaign Empowers Farmers The Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) has officially launched its #ChooseCertifiedSeed campaign. The campaign highlights the importance of certified seed, why certified seed makes a difference, and makes its case to compel farmers, food processors, and consumers to choose certified seed for quality results. The campaign is grounded by a website that serves as a treasure trove of information divided into sections that delve into the nuances of certified seed: its value; quality; identity assurance; traceability, and; trustworthiness. Featuring heartfelt and compelling videos from Canadian seed growers and stakeholders that include their perspectives, genuine experiences, and passion, it forms the essence of the campaign, amplifying the message to farmers to choose certified seed. As the global agricultural landscape becomes increasingly competitive and demanding, it’s crucial to highlight the many benefits of certified seed and the strength of the Canadian seed certification process. “The #ChooseCertifiedSeed campaign empowers farmers to make informed decisions on the seed they choose to plant, demonstrates to food processors and manufacturers that using quality ingredients produced from certified seed is the foundation for quality food, and that when you #ChooseCertifiedSeed, it’s the highest quality, identity-assured, third-party verified seed to set you up for success,” noted the CSGA on its website. To learn more about the campaign and how to participate, visit Seeds of canola within a pod—will this be the next great seed for Canadian farmers? E46AV22/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

16 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR CAAR: MOLECULAR TESTING Just as pathogens mutate, so does science advance to combat them. Sometimes we can find a cure and eliminate it; other times we devise an early-warning system to protect the herd or crop yield and thus the farm business. Sometimes all one can do is find a way to endure. Regardless of how or what, the goal remains to protect. Even with the calendar flipping over to 2024, there is still a global crisis within the poultry industry because of a devastating pandemic. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has killed and required the slaughter of hundreds of millions of domestic fowl, causing billions of dollars in damage and disrupting trade. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the virus has affected about 70 million birds in the country, breaking a record previously set in 2015, which itself had seen some $4 billion in economic damage. Recent outbreaks in California and Alabama required the culling of nearly 700,000 birds. But while HPAI is the most visible disease affecting agriculture, other livestock and crops are in danger. According to a 2021 study presented in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [of the United States of America]), one of the world’s most-cited and comprehensive multiThe current state of global agricultural testing Using just-in-time technology to thwart the spread of pathogenic disease in ag. By Shaun Holt, Chief Executive Officer, Alveo Technologies, Inc. Harnessing the power of molecular detection in its handheld analyzer, Alveo enables rapid, actionable pathogen detection. Photo from Alveo Technologies, Inc.

FEBRUARY 2024 17 St age S uti s f Dry Fertilizer Storage Liquid Fertilizer Storage Chemical & Seed Warehouses Oth S vices Design Services Site Development Full General Contractor Renovations & Remodels 6,440 Metric tons 55,000 sq. ft. 22,415 metric tons 800-367-3424 disciplinary scientific journals, publishing more than 3,500 research papers annually, “Plant diseases, both endemic and recently emerging, are spreading and exacerbated by climate change, transmission with global food trade networks, pathogen spillover, and evolution of new pathogen lineages.” In other words, the risk of new agricultural pandemics emerging is growing larger every day. What can the ag sector do about it? The first line of defence is testing. You can’t treat diseases you can’t identify. Farmers and authorities need to know quickly and reliably what is killing their animals and crops so they can act fast to contain the damage. The most common type of test is a lab-based polymerase chain reaction, better known as PCR, a test we all became very familiar with during the COVID-19 pandemic. For a PCR test, a sample must be collected, protected, and shipped to a lab where genetic material will be heated and cooled for many cycles. The test is very precise, but getting a result can take days or even weeks if the test lab is over capacity, as it will likely be during a serious outbreak. Can farmers afford to wait days or weeks to contain a problem when every precious moment means greater loss of animals, crops, and profit? Of course not. But there are solutions. For example, lateral flow tests (LFTs). More commonly known as antigen tests, LFTs don’t typically require a lab to get a result. For most LFTs, tests can be performed in the field, and results are obvious soon after.

18 THE CAAR COMMUNICATOR Unfortunately, LFTs are not as sensitive as PCR. As well, LFTs also provide a significant number of false negatives, which is why experts recommend conducting multiple tests over extended periods of time if the first test is negative. Let’s take HPAI as an example of why these two common types of tests aren’t meeting the challenge of the current pandemic. HPAI kills and spreads quickly. In just 48 hours after the first bird shows symptoms, an entire flock of thousands can be dead. Also, while HPAI doesn’t spread easily between humans, there have been around 250 documented cases, most of which were people catching it after exposure to infected birds. In 56 percent of these bird-to-bird HPAI cases, the disease was fatal. So, when farmers wait days to get results or get results that falsely say their birds are clear, it allows the virus more time to spread farther into the flock and prolongs the exposure to the people who work with the birds. Agriculture needs tests that provide accurate results quickly in the field and can transmit results automatically to the relevant authorities. Loop-mediate isothermal amplification (LAMP) is, like PCR, a DNA amplification technology, but the key difference is that it holds the sample at a steady temperature instead of cycling. The LAMP technology has recently come off patent, and as a result, there’s a great deal of innovation taking place. Rugged tests are in development for agricultural use that provide precise results in about 30 minutes, and some can automatically transmit geotagged results to the Cloud, which helps authorities stay ahead of the spread. We live in a new era where emerging pathogens become more common, and aggressive efforts will be required to contain the damage to the industry. But if we are to win in this fight against disease, we need a new testing paradigm. CAAR: MOLECULAR TESTING One sick chicken can infect the whole community. Finding the problem early can save a lot of chickens, and the farmer a lot of money. Stefano Argenti/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo Shaun Holt is the CEO of Alveo Technologies. The company has developed a molecular detection platform for early, actionable pathogen detection to secure global health and prevent future pandemics.

FEBRUARY 2024 19 While there are always at least two sides to every argument, Canada’s ag community seems to be coming out more often on the losing side. Case in point: Bill C-234 to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This Canadian federal law sets minimum national standards for carbon pricing in Canada to meet emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement. At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, on December 12, 2015, the Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016. A total of 196 countries, including Canada, agreed to abide by the Paris Agreement. The overarching goal of the Paris Agreement is to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” To limit global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline by 43 percent by 2030. That 2030 date is why all 196 countries involved have only ever had such a short amount of time to make drastic changes to the way they go about their daily business. Regardless of one’s view towards climate change, the Canadian federal government and all 10 of the The world is not enough Wanting to do their part in reducing global GHG emissions, Canadian farmers still can’t catch a break from federal tax fees. But what’s going on around the world? By Andrew Joseph, Editor GHG UPDATE As part of the global community, Canada has agreed to follow the United Nations mandate that countries reduce their GHG emissions to strive towards a net zero 2050 carbon-neutral environment. The problem is that no one knows how to do that, even though Canada has been reducing its levels for decades. Sakorn Sukkasemsakorn/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo