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Veal Farmers of Ontario announces leadership for 2021

Bouilly re-elected to another term as VFO Chair

March 16, 2021 – Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce the re-election of Pascal Bouilly as Chair and the election of Cameron Knip as Vice Chair, at a recent meeting of the Board of Directors.

Bouilly, the Dairy Calf Supply Chain Manager with Delft Blue Veal in Cambridge, was appointed to the VFO Board of Directors in 2015 and served as Vice Chair for two years prior to being elected Chair in 2020. Bouilly is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the farm and the started dairy calves program.

“Driving value for Ontario veal is a top priority for the VFO Board of Directors,” says Bouilly. “One thing that has not changed during this pandemic is Ontario farmers and their commitment to continuing to do what they do best—producing safe, high-quality food for our customers. As Chair, I look forward to the year ahead as we focus our attention on the issues, initiatives, and projects that will best support our members and our industry.”

Knip, who joined the Board in 2019, raises veal cattle south of Exeter where he also cash crops with his family.

“As Vice Chair, I look forward to working with my fellow directors to strategically address issues directly impacting male dairy calf and veal producers,” says Knip. “With market volatility, processing capacity, and uncertainty disrupting our livestock markets, the importance of business risk management programs that work for our farmers has never been more critical.”

Judy Dirksen, Sid Atkinson, and Phil Kroesbergen were acclaimed to the VFO Board at the 2021 virtual Annual General Meeting on March 3 and will serve three-year terms.

Dirksen, a veal producer from Harriston, and Atkinson, a dairy and cash crop producer from Roseneath, bring extensive board experience to their roles. Kroesbergen, who raises veal with his family near Mount Brydges, is past Vice Chair.

Returning to the eight member VFO Board of Directors is Brian Keunen (Palmerston). Earlier in the year, the VFO Board appointed Dylan Yantzi (Tavistock) to a two-year term to fill a board vacancy as per the requirements and expectations of our regulations. Stratford-area veal producer Kurtis Moesker was also appointed to a two-year term at the recent meeting of the Board of Directors, filling an additional seat that became vacant mid-term.

“Thank you to each one of the members of the Board for your willingness to serve the Ontario veal cattle sector,” says Bouilly. “The VFO Board of Directors is most certainly a diverse group of farmers with a wealth of experience. I am looking forward to the year ahead.”

Read the full release here.

Annual VFO Board of Director’s Award winner announced

Recognizing dedication and service to the veal cattle industry

March 4, 2021—Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was pleased to announce this year’s VFO Board of Director’s Award winner at its recent Virtual Annual General Meeting held on March 3, 2021.

The VFO Board of Director’s Award recognizes the contributions that many make to help the VFO Board achieve their goals. This year, Larry Witzel, President of the Ontario Livestock Exchange, and Chair of the Livestock Financial Protection Board was recognized for his involvement in the veal cattle industry.

“Larry has always been a valued industry partner, and we are fortunate to have his perspective and insight on the many projects and issues over the years and of course his input and support on the Veal Industry Advisory Committee,” says Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair.

Witzel is both Past President and a current director of Livestock Markets of Canada, and President of the Ontario Livestock Auction Markets Association. He has contributed to several VFO projects and initiatives over the years, and his insights and expertise have been greatly appreciated.

“I am honoured and grateful to receive the VFO Board of Director’s Award,” says Witzel. “The veal industry in Ontario is strong, aggressive, and has great vision as it continues to move forward into the future.”

“We thank Larry for his dedication and commitment to the Ontario veal sector, he is truly deserving of this recognition, and we look forward to continuing to work together to serve Ontario’s veal farmers,” says Bouilly.

Read the full news release here.

VFO’s regulations amended to include veal cattle sold in sales barns

Amendments provide clarity and broaden definition of veal cattle

Guelph, Ontario (December 17, 2020) – Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce that amendments to the VFO regulations that update the definitions of veal cattle and now include the collection of licence fees on veal cattle sold in sales barns will come into effect on January 1st, 2021.

VFO has been working collaboratively with the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission for quite some time to bring forward amendments to Regulation 58/15- Veal Cattle- Marketing Plan and Reg 272/14- Veal Cattle- Plan.

“VFO is pleased to reach this important milestone and we appreciate the support of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and Minister Hardeman for ensuring these amendments were completed,” stated Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair.

The amended regulations bring forward an expanded definition of veal cattle to include an extended weight on male dairy bob calves up to 150 pounds; inclusion of started or preconditioned intact male dairy calves up to 450 pounds; and the addition of veal cattle marketed on live weight basis, weighing no more than 769 pounds, through an auction or livestock dealer. There are no changes to the definitions for those producers who market their veal cattle directly to the processor.

“This is great news for VFO. We have been working on these amendments for quite some time and it is the final piece of our licence fee collection system to be completed since we became a marketing board under the Farm Products Marketing Act on April 1, 2015,” stated Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director.

There are no changes to the $5.50 per head licence fee or check-off being assigned to veal cattle sold.

Prior to the amendments coming into effect, veal cattle sold in sales barns on a live weight basis would have had the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) check-off applied. The change on January 1st, 2021 provides that the licence fees collected by the auction markets or livestock dealers on live veal cattle will be re-directed to VFO rather than remitted to BFO.

“The updated definitions of what is considered veal cattle will strengthen our regulations, provide clarity to our veal definitions, and ensure equity and transparency within all segments of our markets where our VFO licence fees are applied,” stated Haley.

Bouilly also acknowledged the partnership with BFO has been key to bringing the amendments forward. “We appreciate the support and collaboration of BFO throughout this process. Both of our organizations share a common goal of ensuring licence fees and check-off are collected and remitted appropriately to each of our organizations,” stated Bouilly.

Read the full news release here.

VFO provides updated calf management resource to all Ontario veal and dairy producers

Guelph, Ontario (December 16, 2020) – Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce that the launch of the revised second edition of the “Building the Foundation for Healthy Calves II” manual will involve distribution to all Ontario veal and dairy producers.

This manual is an essential producer resource designed to address the challenges of today’s veal and dairy calf producers while highlighting the latest best management practices. Written by leading experts in calf management, this manual will help producers establish sound calf management protocols and take a proactive, complete farm approach to calf nutrition, disease, housing, and transportation.

“VFO is pleased to provide every dairy and veal producer in the province a copy of this resource,” said Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair. “Animal care is a top priority for VFO, and this manual is an important way for us to encourage both producers and veterinarians to incorporate calf health during regular visits and ensure that all calves consistently receive the highest quality of care.”

Producers will receive a complimentary copy with the Winter issue of The Connection, or the December issue of the Milk Producer, depending on whether they are subscribed to one or both publications.

“This resource has been updated to give producers the latest recommendations when it comes to caring for their calves,” said Kendra Keels, VFO’s Industry Development Director. “The basic principles of calf-raising are the same, whether your calves are destined for the milking herd or meat production, and we want to get all calves off to a healthy start,” she added.

Copies will also be available for purchase on www.calfcare.ca in the New Year.

Read the full news release here.

Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020: Protecting Ontario Farms and the Food System 

Along with our commodity group partners, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was pleased to join Minister Ernie Hardeman and the Ontario government virtually today as they announced the proclamation of Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020. Beginning December 5, 2020, the Act will protect Ontario’s food supply chain, from farm to table, without infringing on the right to peacefully protest and, in conjunction with the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS), 2019, ensure animals are protected and cared for properly.

“Thank you Minister Hardeman and the Ontario government for your commitment to protecting Ontario’s agri-food sector. VFO welcomes today’s announcement proclaiming Bill 156. VFO is committed to a safe and strong food supply and Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 ensures that the entire agri-food industry can work together to protect the safety of our farms, businesses, families, and the livestock we care for,” said Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair.

VFO, along with Ontario’s farm and commodity groups, have worked collaboratively on this issue and have released the joint media statement below to applaud the efforts of the Hon. Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario government in working diligently to support the needs of Ontario’s food producers.

Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020: Protecting Ontario Farms and the Food System

December 4, 2020 — More than ever, we understand the critical importance of maintaining a steady and reliable food supply and protecting the safety of those who feed us. Today, the Ontario government announced the proclamation of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020. Beginning December 5, 2020, the Act will protect Ontario’s food supply chain, from farm to table, without infringing on the right to peacefully protest and, in conjunction with the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS), 2019, ensure animals are protected and cared for properly.

Ontario’s farm and commodity groups applaud the efforts of the Hon. Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario government in working diligently to support the needs of Ontario’s food producers. The Act demonstrates to trespassers, activists, law enforcement and the Ontario justice system that the protection of farms, families, agri-food employees, animals and the food system is of the highest priority. The Act strikes a balance in enhancing the safety and protection of the farming and food industry while recognizing and respecting a citizen’s rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

To be perfectly clear, Ontario’s farm and commodity organizations are aligned in having zero tolerance for animal abuse. Concerns around animal abuse, and the ability and obligation to report such actions are entrenched within the PAWS Act. Farmers are highly regulated, following strict codes of conduct to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all farm animals. Animal welfare is integral to the care they provide for their animals. The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act complements the PAWS Act, ensuring the highest standards of animal care, protecting people, animals and the province’s food supply while respecting lawful and peaceful protest.

The agri-food industry in Ontario contributes more than $47 billion to the province’s annual GDP and employs more than 860,000 Ontarians. Workers across agriculture and the food sector — including farmers and farm workers, transporters, abattoirs, processing plant employees, food service and retail outlets — have experienced threats and harassment from activists seeking to end their industry. These events pose severe risks to human and animal health and welfare and threaten the integrity of the food system by breaching biosecurity protocols. Unwanted visitors and trespassers can have devastating impacts on the health and safety of farms, families, businesses and livestock. In Canada, 97 per cent of farms are family farms — not only a place of business, but also homes where children are raised, and family and friends are welcomed.

Ontario farm families depend on the safety and security of their farms to raise livestock, and grow and produce food to maintain a strong, reliable food supply. On behalf of all Ontario farmers, processing facilities and agri-food businesses, we’d like to express our sincere appreciation to the provincial government for protecting farms and food safety. The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act ensures Ontario’s food value chain system is safeguarded, by strengthening protections for farm families, agri-food employees, and animals while maintaining the right to lawful protest.

Read the full joint media statement here.

VFO announces Licence Fee Inspection and Compliance position

Board focusing on enhanced communications and integrity in collection system

Guelph, Ontario (October 28, 2020) — Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce that Geoff Holwell has joined the organization in the newly created position of Inspection and Compliance Officer.

“Since VFO came into force in April 2015, we have worked openly and diligently on education and awareness with our industry partners with respect to the collection and remittance of the mandatory licence fees and as a result developed some great partnerships,” said Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director. “However, we are now moving into the next phase of development as an organization and looking to ensure equitable compliance for all stakeholders with additional outreach to the industry,” she added.

The primary responsibilities of this new position are to ensure compliance with the VFO’s regulations and maintain integrity in the licence fee collection system. The position will be responsible for ongoing communications with industry stakeholders that will include auditing and inspection functions to ensure licence fee remittances are timely and accurate.

Geoff brings with him a comprehensive resume of experience that includes a broad spectrum of law enforcement, investigative and auditing roles over the past twenty-six years that include municipal policing, border services as well as forensic insurance investigations.

In his role as the VFO Inspection and Compliance Officer, Geoff will be working with producers, industry partners, and stakeholders to monitor, discuss, and create awareness for licence fee remittance obligations that are part of VFO’s marketing board regulations. “I am looking forward to meeting with and working with our industry partners to provide assistance to them where I can and to ensure compliance,” said Holwell.

“On behalf of VFO, I would like to welcome Geoff to the VFO team,” stated Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair. “For VFO, it is the right time for our organization to take this next step and demonstrate to our members, industry partners, and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission that VFO’s licence fee collection system is thorough, transparent, responsible, equitable, and has integrity,” he added.

View the full news release here.

Ontario’s veal farmers show appreciation to essential workers at Ontario veal processing facilities

Guelph, Ontario (August 18, 2020) – Essential workers at participating Ontario veal processing facilities were surprised last week with gourmet cookies for each staff member as a gesture of appreciation from Ontario’s veal farmers for their hard work and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the commitment of the veal processing facilities and their loyal staff, the Ontario veal supply chain continued to run smoothly. The plants incorporated new policies and procedures to take the necessary steps to protect staff and keep high-quality Ontario veal available in our communities and on the plates of consumers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone, and despite that staff came to work every day to keep the veal processing facilities operating and for that VFO is truly appreciative,” said Pascal Bouilly, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) Chair. “Without their dedication, the Ontario veal industry may have had a very different story to tell,” he added.

Over 450 individually packaged gourmet cookies from a local County of Brant bakery were delivered to the processing facilities in mid-August to recognize the essential workers responsible for keeping Ontario’s veal supply chain moving.

“During this pandemic it was clear that the work our veal processing facilities do is a vital part of keeping Ontario veal available for our consumers, and we are grateful for all they have done to keep the facilities operating during these challenging times,” commended Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director. “They are an essential part of our industry, especially during these unprecedented times, and the cookies are our small way of saying thank you for all you do.”

Find the full release here.

         

VFO applauds investment of additional $50 million in RMP

Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair joined Premier Ford, Minister Hardeman and our commodity organization colleagues for an important announcement that will see an additional $50 million invested into the Risk Management Program (RMP)  in 2020, bringing forward the Premier’s campaign promise by one year.  This brings the total annual investment into RMP to $150 million.  This funding will support farmers with unforeseen challenges such as fluctuating market prices, extreme weather events like flooding or drought, and disease.   Approximately 80 per cent of eligible commercial production in the cattle, hog, sheep, veal, grains and oilseeds and edible horticulture sectors in Ontario is covered by the provincial Risk Management Program.

“On behalf of Ontario’s veal farmers, thank you Premier Ford and Minister Hardeman for listening to us and bringing these funds forward when we need them most,” stated Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair. “Bringing forward these funds ahead one year and into 2020 is perhaps one of the most important investments to be made to the Ontario livestock industry and specifically the veal sector. With the economic uncertainty of the markets looking forward, rising costs of production and navigating the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, veal farmers depend on the RMP program as part of their business risk management strategy.”

For those producers already enrolled in RMP- there is nothing additional you need to do. There are no changes to premium.

For those wishing to enrol in RMP, deadlines have been extended to July 30, 2020. Producers are encouraged to contact Agricorp directly.  For more info: https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2020/Pages/RMP-FundingIncreasedTo150Million.asp

See the Premier’s full news release here:  https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/farmers-support-expanded-risk-management-program.html

New legislation protects farms and food safety

Ontario farm families depend on the safety and security of their farms to raise livestock, and grow and produce food to maintain a strong, reliable food supply.

That’s why Ontario’s farm and commodity groups applaud the Ontario government for Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020. Bill 156 strikes an important balance, respecting the right to peaceful public protest while giving the justice system the tools it needs to help protect farms, farmers, livestock, abattoirs and meat processers, and the food supply from trespassing and harassment by groups and individuals.

Our province’s agri-food industry contributes more than $47 billion to the province’s annual GDP, and employs over 837,000 Ontarians. Workers across agriculture and the food sector — including farmers and farm workers, transporters, abattoirs, processing plant employees, food service and retail outlets — have experienced threats and harassment from activists seeking to end their industry.

Ninety-seven percent of Canadian farms are family farms. Farms are not only a place of business, they are homes where we welcome family and friends, and raise children.

Increasingly, trespassers are invading farm properties, barns and processing facilities, harassing families and workers, frightening and stealing animals, and threatening food safety by ignoring biosecurity protocols. Farmers and their families deserve to feel safe at home on the farm. Unwanted visitors and trespassers can have devastating impacts on the health and safety of farms, families, businesses and livestock.

Farmers are proud of the care they provide their animals, and animal welfare is of the utmost importance. Ontario farmers are highly regulated, and follow strict codes of conduct to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all farm animals. Preventing trespass on farms, in barns or at processing facilities reduces the risk of distress for animals, and prevents the exposure to potential diseases and pest, keeping farm animals healthy and safe.

Ontario farmers support the newly enacted Provincial Animal Services Act, the strongest animal welfare legislation in the country, which protects animals including livestock from abuse and neglect. We believe in exposing any acts of animal mistreatment or abuse by utilizing existing enforcement services. Anyone who suspects animal abuse or neglect should report directly to the Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre, available 24 hours a day.

On behalf of all Ontario farmers, processing facilities and agri-food businesses, we’d like to express our appreciation to the provincial government for taking a strong stance to protect farms and food safety for Ontarians. The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 is good news for Ontario’s agri-food industry. It will ensure that food safety through the value chain is protected, from farm to table, balanced with allowing an individual’s right to protest, while protecting farmers, their families, and livestock.

Find the full media statement here.

Find the answers to frequently asked questions here.

Immediate action required by province to protect food security

Beef Farmers of Ontario, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Veal Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Sheep Farmers are asking the Premier and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to immediately move to fully fund the Ontario Risk Management Program (RMP) to help over 50,000 Ontario farmers continue to deliver food for the people of Ontario.

COVID-19 impacts have exacerbated the challenges already faced by Ontario‘s grain and livestock farmers and immediate support is needed to ensure our farmers can continue to deliver local, quality food to Ontarians.

Many Ontario farmers in the non-supply managed sectors are in crisis without access to sufficient safety net support that programs like RMP provide. In the last election, Ontario‘s Premier campaigned to increase much-needed funding for the Ontario RMP, recognizing the critical underfunding of the program in recent years and its importance to the agri-food sector and Ontario economy. COVID-19 has amplified financial challenges facing our family farms and induced market and production disruptions that threaten the food supply and viability of farm operations. Fully funding the RMP will provide the essential security Ontario farmers need to continue to provide food for Ontarians and keep rural Ontario’s communities and economy strong during this time of crisis.

Read the full press release here.