The CAAR Communicator

October Issue – See All

By The Numbers

2 - The number of key ways employers can better motivate employees.

4 - This is the average percent increase in crop production gained by farmers that use
precision agriculture technology.

6.9 - The billion-dollar amount of revenues in the Canadian organic market.

12 - As in the number of grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule, the expected amount of greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 via Canada’s upcoming Clean Fuel Standard.

34,318 - The total ascent distance—in metres—CAAR Board member Blaine Cochrane has achieved while mountain climbing around the world. That is “ascent” only. He still had to climb down.

42,000,000 - The amount of money the Government of Canada recently invested in the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, raising concerns that the regulatory process has become politicalized.

65,472,516,904 - Total operating costs for all Canadian farms in 2019.

The New Clean Fuel Standard - How does it impact agriculture?

Soon to be part of our landscape to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Canadian Fuel Standard will affect every Canadian on the grid. CAAR provides information on how it came to be, and how it will work.

It is Time to Stop the Fear Mongering

Growing with marketing campaigns of agriculture food products in Canada and internationally is the increased utilization of fear as a marketing weapon. Statements of non-GMO, grass fed only, organic and antibiotic-free create doubt and fear in the minds of the consumer. Are the products I purchase and consume less nutritious or harmful to our families?

How European Farming Influences Canadian Farmers – whether they like it or not

The UK and EU have issues with its organic farming that threaten to eat itself. Who’s to blame and why? European standards are driving reductions in residue limits which will have major impacts on Canadian farming, so it is important to understand what is going on in Europe.

Get to Know the CAAR Board: Blaine Cochrane

CAAR Communicator chatted with Blaine Cochrane, Sales Manager with Shur-Gro Farm Services in Brandon, Manitoba to learn about the person and career, his leadership within the ag retail sector, and why he decided to become a part of the CAAR Board team. Oh, and something about mountains.


CAAR’s 27th Annual Conference
Currently CAAR is planning to host an in-person conference to be held February 8-10, 2022 in Edmonton. The theme of our 27th Annual Conference is Resilience: Adapt & Advance. CAAR staff and Conference Committee are continuing to finalize the agenda roster of speakers. Once finalized, this information will be shared in the CAAR Network at and via Twitter (@CdnAgRetail). Those interested in sponsorship opportunities or exhibiting at the conference, please contact Scott Van Alstyne via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 204-989-9305.

Board of Directors Nominations Now Open
CAAR is now accepting nominations for its 2022-23 Board of Directors which will be confirmed during our AGM—date and time to be announced. Lending your time and expertise to the CAAR Board gives you an active and rewarding role in shaping your industry. For more information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to nominate yourself or a colleague.

The 2022 CAAR Awards - Nominations Are Now Open
The CAAR Awards highlight the achievements and dedication of CAAR members who serve their community and the ag retail industry. The awards celebrate excellence in various areas of retail management, agronomy, 4R nutrient stewardship, and lifetime achievements. The categories for the CAAR Awards are: Agronomist of the Year; Retailer of the Year; 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer Award; and the Retailer Hall of Fame. For more information about award nominating, contact Lady Gabilo at 204-989-9304, by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

2021 – 22 CAAR Membership
CAAR would like to thank all members who have already paid their membership fees for 2021-22. We would also like to welcome new CAAR Members, and Arva Grain Corp. CAAR is the only national association representing the interests of and addressing critical issues facing ag retailers today and is entrenched in the issues that impact your business—making a difference for our ag retailer and supplier members.

If you have not yet renewed your membership, payment can be made online or by cheque, sent to the CAAR office. For more details about CAAR membership contact Scott Van Alstyne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 204-989-9305.

Province of Manitoba Engagement Session
CAAR staff participated in an Engagement Session for Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture. The object was to provide input and support of Manitoba’s preparation for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture July meeting.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
The CAAR Advocacy Committee initiated a direct meeting to better understand and provide retailer perspective to Potential Over-Formulation of N [Nitrogen] and P [Phosphorus] in Fertilizers sold or imported into Canada. CFIA has identified instances of over-formulation of product nutrients identified. The Committee reached out to better understand the rational and support the confirmation and breadth of the potential issue. CAAR Committee members will participate in the CFIA working group providing retail industry’s input to inform the environmental safety assessment and any ensuing risk management options that are deemed necessary.

Rural Broadband with the University of Guelph
CAAR is working on the Regional and Rural Broadband (R2B2) project from the University of Guelph. We are reviewing its mandate and determining how CAAR can support the Canadian Centre of Excellence in Broadband Data Analytics.

Fertilizer Canada and CAAR Interaction
The two groups are working on a Liquid Storage Working Group and a 4R Working Group – Prairie and Ontario CCA board engagement. The groups are ensuring proper alignment of communications and advocacy support, and positioning 4R fertilizer management principles to address GHG’s from farm field applications.

CAAR Training Committee
Committee is working on the development of alternative training solutions (due to COVID-19 constraints), supporting continuing education and certification associated to ammonia handling.

Cereals Canada MRL Assessment Committee
This meeting assessed the trade risks for pest control products of interest proposed for use in the 2022 growing season as per the Canada Grains Council Domestic Use Policy. Another meeting of the committee will be organized in December 2021 to review additional pest control products.

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How European Farming Influences Canadian Farmers

The UK and EU have issues with its organic farming that threaten to eat itself. Who’s to blame and why? European standards are driving reductions in residue limits which will have major impacts on Canadian farming, so it is important to understand what is going on in Europe.

 As reported in the last issue of CAAR Communicator, the European Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed delivers opinions on draft measures that the Commission intends to adopt.

This group has a substantial impact on setting residue levels for certain types of crops, and has proposed changes to clethodim MRLs.

The European Union represents a significant market for Canada’s Canola, soybean and pulse growers. In 2020, Canada exported $1.5 billion of oilseeds and $723 million soybeans to the EU. Ninety percent of Canola and pulses grown in Canada are exported.

This article attempts to provide an understanding of what is driving the Europeans to adopt such changes. Understanding the background, may help Canadians better prepare for the future.
More people are turning to organically-grown foods and products, with data from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and IFOAM-Organics International showing estimated global sales in 2017 to be $137-billion.

In the UK, the organic sector was found to be worth £2.79-billion (~CDN $4.85-billion) in 2020, while the Canada Organic Trade Association says Canadian revenues in the organic market were $6.9-billion. Regardless of country, organic foods are expensive to grow.

Despite that, there is a robust outlook on the organic economy, including the adoption of the European Organic Action Plan. It’s no surprise that the organic farming industry has grown by leaps and bounds from organic farm to fork.


Land, Oh!

Following the global financial crisis of 2008/09, organic food sales in the UK have been on the rise—even though the amount of organically farmed land has shrunk. The number of producers and processors of organic food products also fell, as did the actual number of head of organic pigs, cattle and sheep.

A 2015 report from the European Environment Agency noted that UK organic farming had stalled in growth, showing that in the year 2000, 3.3 percent of the land was being farmed organically, unchanged as of 2015. The report noted that 6,072 farmers and certified processors were in business in 2015 versus 7,567 in 2009.

Meanwhile, Austria and Spain saw increases in organic farming between 2000-2015 with 18.5 percent and 7.5 percent growth, respectively.

Compare this with figures showing that organic sales in the UK rose in 2014 over the previous year by four percent.

The numbers suggest that either UK organic producers were giving up, or more European organic products were being sold in its stead.

Climate Change Concerns

A 2019 study in Nature Communications called out organic farming, saying it was worse for climate change, noting that it only cuts GHG emissions if you ignore that it requires more arable land—a lot more—to produce the same amount of food yield as traditional farms.

Because more land requires the clearing of additional grasslands or forests, the difference between clearing and growing would cause the release of more GHG emissions, the study asserted.
Researchers at Cranfield University in the UK wondered what would happen if England and Wales moved all-in from conventional farming to organic farming techniques. They determined that GHG emissions from livestock would decrease by five percent, and that growing crops would drop emissions by 20 percent per unit of production.

Conversely, the switch to an all-organically farmed situation would cause a drop in overall yields by 40 percent—causing the countries to have to import food to feed it. If you want to take that one step farther, the carbon footprint of transporting those additional foods would only add to the GHG emissions, providing financial solace only to the foreign organic trader.

Part of the issue with organic farming, is that along with lower crop yields relative to the same acreage used by traditional farming techniques, organic farming uses manure that releases methane, and longer crop rotations that have been found to increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil. But yes, fewer GHG emissions are produced by avoiding the use of nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizers.

The study determined that a switch to 100 percent organic farming would require an additional 1.5x more land to cover the yield shortcomings, which would add up to nearly 5x more farmland used over-seas than England and Wales currently rely on for food.

What tips the scale away from organic farming, is the yield issue.


Is Europe's F2F Plan Sustainable?

The European model of Farm to Fork certainly thinks green, but what shade of green is it?

The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the European Green Deal—a goal to be the first climate-neutral continent.

The Farm to Fork policy seeks: large increases in food production; creation of more organic farming; a greater reduction of synthetic pesticide use—but does not offer specific solutions that address organic farming’s productivity issues or how to handle crop pests under the stringent rules of organic farming.

Regarding organic food products, the Farm to Fork policy appears to want to move Europe away from the travails of traditional farming to the greener pastures of organic farming.

An article published August 26, 2020 by the Genetic Literacy Project took issue with this European agriculture policy, and said it would “not only increase hunger, (it would) undermine the climate change environmental goals as well.”

The article rightly stated that only after WWII did better agricultural technologies emerge, such as GMO—"the genetic manipulation of plants to create advanced hybrid crops, modern chemical pesticides, and synthetic fertilizer, that everyone in Europe—and not just the upper class—had enough to eat.”

However, both GMO and CRISPR gene editing of seeds—something that could increase food production while reducing chemical dependence—are ignored because of its contrary stance with the Farm to Fork policy.

The article also opined that the Farm to Fork policy was shaped by “strong lobbying” within Europe’s organic farming industry but did not provide evidence to back up the statement.
According to the Export Development Canada 2020 organic report, Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) stated that regulations in other countries “could constrain Canadian producers from reaching their full potential in key growth markets.”

COTA said the current Canadian framework gives an advantage to foreign organic producers owing to “regulatory imbalances”, and that international entities such as the USDA National Organic Program and the European Union organic program will “benefit from Canada’s acceptance of their laxer regulatory constraints by certifying and selling organic commodities, bearing organic logo, to Canadian consumers.”

The European influence on the organic food sector is having a negative effect on other non-participatory countries, and upon itself. Moving forward, a re-examination of the Farm to Fork policy goals and provision of solid details on how to achieve it is necessary.

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