Last Saturday I had the chance to attend one of the first Organic Farm Production Club meetings. We heard a presentation about new research in cropping and then the discussion moved on to the rotations we use on our own organic farms. I came away with ideas and tips which should be helpful on my fields this season. These Farm Clubs are being organized in different parts of the province and cover a variety of topics of interest to organic farmers. I highly recommend that you attend one. Special thanks to Laura Telford, provincial organic marketing specialist, for organizing the Organic Farm Clubs and also for providing the monthly organic prices and marketing opportunities and items in this newsletter. I hope you enjoy this edition of Manitoba’s organic newsletter as you make your spring seeding plans. Happy organic farming!

Kate Storey, Manitoba Organic Alliance

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Organic prices

Below are the highest organic grain prices (spot market prices unless otherwise indicated) gathered recently by MAFRD. Sources include farmers and buyers who have shared recent sales prices and theUSDA National Organic Grain & Feedstuffs Report. Prices do not include transportation unless otherwise indicated. Conventional prices come fromFarm Leadin SK and theWestern Producer Markets Moment Special Edition. USDA prices are in US dollars, the rest of the prices are Canadian.

For vegetable prices, check outCOG's Organic Price Tracker(eastern Canadian data only).Cyber-Help for Organic Farmerslists wholesale prices for organic fruit (fresh and frozen) and vegetables (Vancouver).

Soybeans - food$29.65/bu
Soybeans - feed$18/bu (MB), $25.55 (USDA)
Oats - milling$6/bu; conv. $2.90
Barley - malting$10/bu fob farm
Corn - feed$12.55/bu (USDA); conv. $4.40/bu
Flax - yellow$42/bu (new crop contract)
Flax - brown$33-38/bu (new crop contract); $34/bu (old crop); conv. $11.50-12/bu
Mustard - brown$0.80-0.88/lb.; conv. $0.24-0.26/lb.
Mustard - yellow$0.90/lb.; conv. $0.34-0.35/lb.
Wheat - soft white$15/bu fob farm; conv. $5.50/bu
Wheat - feed$14.15/bu del. to e. ON; conv. $4.40/bu
Buckwheat$0.38/lb.
Peas - feed$16.51 del to e. ON; conv. $7/bu

Organic Premium this Month(based on highest organic and conventional prices)

Oats - milling207%
Flax - brown317%
Wheat - soft white273%
Wheat - feed322%
Mustard - yellow257%
Mustard - brown338%
Corn - feed285%
Peas - feed236%

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Organic market opportunities

grain truck

M & M Organic Marketing in St. Claude, MB is looking for organicfeed peas,flax,rye,oats,barley,lentilsandsoybeansfob farm. Call 204 379-2451

An organic layer operation in southeastern Manitoba is looking for a truck load of feed quality organicflax. Call Hermann at (204) 326-5509,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Roger Rivest Marketing Ltd. is looking for 2015 growers for organicHRSW, durum wheat, and chickpeas. Call 519 687-3522 or emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Grain Millers is booking new crop organic crops:soft white wheatfor fall pickup at $15/bu fob farm new cropbuckwheatfor fall at $0.38/lb. fob farm (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.at 952 983-1277),yellow mustardat $0.87/lb (Craig Tomera), andmalting barley(Metcalfe, Newdale and Copeland vars) at $10/bu fob farm (contact Jessie), andbrown flaxat $33/bu (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The company is also buying old crop organicbrown flaxat $34/bu fob farm.

 
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Organic Farm Production Club meetings

If you're an organic producer, aspiring organic producer or you just want to learn about organic production, please consider coming out to one or more of the following farm club meetings this winter. The Farm Clubs allow producers to share information about organic production. The general format is to identify a topic, bring in an expert or two, and let the information fly! Feel free to attend any or all of the following meetings. There is no cost to participate.

Organic Farm Production Club meetings are made possible by funding from Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre, University of Manitoba Glenlea Research CentreMarch 211-4 pmDiscussion Topic:Growing organic vegetables in tunnelsDiscussion Leaders:Dennis Hoeppner, organic vegetable producer from Oak Valley Vegetables and Tom Gonsalves, Vegetable Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.Directions:Drive south on Route 75 - Pembina Highway from Winnipeg, 3 kilometres past the St. Adophe turnoff (Hwy 210). Turn left (East) onto Research Station Road at the two flag poles. The Farm and Food Discovery Centre is the red and white building just after the dyke. Parking is a gravel lot in front of the building.

University of Manitoba Research Farm, CarmanMarch 24 2015 1-4 pmDiscussion Topic:2015 Crop Selection. New Crop ConsiderationsDiscussion Leaders:Various organic producers and experts will provide an overview of the key production considerations for growing spelt, soybeans, naked oats, camelina, hemp and other new(ish) crops under organic management.Directions:Drive 1.8 km west of the junction of Hwys 3 and 13

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Organic news bytes

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Transitioning to organic farming

Thisarticlein the March 17 edition of Grain News provides 9 tips for a painless transition (pgs 7-10).

A & W to carry organic coffee

In the latest sign of diversification and expansion in Canada’s organic market, the fast-food chain A&W Canada has announced it will exclusively offer organic and Fair Trade coffee in all of its locations. A&W is Canada’s second-largest hamburger chain, with 819 locations nationwide. A number of retail and brand owners have recently announced they will expand their organic offerings and presence in the Canadian market, which COTA now estimates at over $4 billion per year.

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Global Organic Market Estimated at $72 billion

According to the latest data on organic farming and sales released this past week at BioFach, the global organic market in 2013 reached 72 billion U.S. dollars (approximately 55 billion euros), led by the U.S. market with sales of $35.1 billion (24.3 billion euros). Germany was next, with 7.6 billion euros, followed by France, with 4.4 billion euros. China, for which there were official market data for the first time, logged in with 2.4 billion euros in sales. Two million organic producers—a new high—were reported in 2013. The countries with the highest numbers of producers were India, Uganda, and Mexico. Meanwhile, a total of 43.1 million hectares were organic at the end of 2013, up almost 6 million hectares compared to the previous year. These and more statistics are included in The World of Organic Agriculture 2015, published and available for purchase from IFOAM-Organics International and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. The Canadian Chapter was written by Matthew Holmes of the Canadian Organic Trade Association and Marie-Eve Levert.

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New certification seal asserts non-GMO status of organic foods

An organic farming group wants to stamp out the confusion over organic and non-GMO certifications. The California Certified Organic Farmers association introduced a new organic certification seal last week that declares “Organic is Non-GMO & More” for use by its certified suppliers.

In recent years the two labels have been at the center of an ongoing debate about their commonalities and differences. The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in certified organic products. But the Non-GMO Project, a third-party certifier of GMO-free food products and ingredients, contends it goes further to verify ingredients are free of genetic modification, as reported in Specialty Food Magazine last year.

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Garden centre moves to protect pollinators

Art Knapp Plantland has told its suppliers they will no longer accept nursery plants treated with neonicotinoids, a controversial class of pesticides linked to honeybee mortality.

“We are ensuring that we don’t purchase anything that contains neonics,” said company spokesman Wim Vander Zalm. “All our suppliers are to inform us if any of their products are treated.”

“Growers are taking action because they can see that this is an issue and customers are demanding this,” he said.

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Rise of the organic shopper

Vancouver mom Caitlin Adam wants the best for her children and worries that conventional produce may contain pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms that she can avoid by buying organic.

“If I was only feeding myself and my husband, I probably wouldn’t go to so much effort. But for my kids I feel its important, and I’m kind of grossed out by the concept of GMOs,” she said. “I’m not a fanatic about it, but I find it unsettling that we don’t really know what the repercussions will be from all the GMO ingredients in our food.”

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Science bytes

Interplant signalling through hyphal networks

Mycorrhizal fungi can form common mycelial networks (CMNs) that interconnect plants. Here, we provide an insight into recent findings demonstrating that CMNs can be conduits for interplant signalling, influencing defence against insect herbivores and foliar necrotrophic fungi. A likely mechanism is direct transfer of signalling molecules within hyphae. However, electrical signals, which can be induced by wounding, may also enable signalling over relatively long distances, because the biophysical constraints imposed by liquid transport in hyphae and interaction with soil are relieved. We do not yet understand the ecological, evolutionary and agronomic implications of interplant signalling via CMNs. Identifying the mechanism of interplant signalling will help to address these gaps.

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Farming method more important for farm biodiversity

A recent study published in the journal Landscape Ecology has found that using organic methods is more important in determining the amount of beneficial predator insects on farms than having diverse landscapes. Scientists compared the effects of landscape composition, habitat quality related to organic and conventional farming, and other characteristics such as hedgerows to determine the diversity of aphid natural enemies using a modeling approach. Forty pairs of organic and conventional winter wheat fields were sampled for ladybirds, carabid beetles, and parasitoids -- all aphid predators. Researchers determined that using organic methods was most important in determining whether or not farms had high beneficial insect diversity because they also had high habitat quality.

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Grazing among grains yields ecological, economic benefits

You generally don’t find livestock among the hills in the Palouse region of eastern Washington where grain is grown. But wheat farmers Eric and Sheryl Zakarison are changing that – and making a profit.

On 100 of their 1,300 family-owned acres, they are experimenting with a rather unconventional scheme for the region – growing wheat, peas, perennial grasses like alfalfa and sheep in a tightly integrated system.

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How infant’s gut bacteria can predict future food allergies or asthma

A new study from Canadian researchers at the University of Manitoba and University of Alberta is shedding new light on changes in intestinal bacteria of infants that can predict future development of food allergies or asthma.

The research, published in the February edition of the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy and highlighted as the publication’s “Editor’s Choice,” reveals that infants with a fewer number of different bacteria in their gut at three months of age are more likely to become sensitized to foods such as milk, egg or peanut by the time they are one year old. Infants who developed food sensitization also had altered levels of two specific types of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and Bacteroidaceae, compared to infants who didn’t.

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Register your farm to avoid spraying

This is your annual reminder to send an email or a quick letter to Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship to get on the no-spray list. This list is shared with Municipal Pesticide programs so that they are aware of your farm's organic status when spraying roadside weeds. The contact person at CWS isThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, Box 80, Building 1218, 123 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 1AS.

Just to be sure that all of your bases are covered, you should also make contact with your local aerial sprayer to ensure that they program your farm's GPS coordinates into their systems.

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Organic summer student positions

Conference and Organic Week Organizer

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development is hiring a STEP student for 16 weeks startingMay 1(36 hr/wk). The student will help to organize an organic conference to take place in February 2016 and consumer outreach activities for Organic Week 2015.

The start date isMay 1. Salary to be determined. The position is based in Portage la Prairie, but other locations between Winnipeg and Brandon will be considered.

Students must be returning to school in the fall.

If you are interested in the position, emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Organic Food Outreach Coordinator

Organic Alberta is looking for a summer student to coordinate educational activities and promotional campaigns for organic consumers, farmers and businesses. The position is based in Edmonton, AB.

$13/hr, 35 hrs/week for 15 weeks. Position begins early to mid-May.

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents under 30 and be returning to school full time in September.

Apply by5 pm April 10. Email resume and cover letter toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Only candidates short-listed for an interview will be contacted.

Organic Events Coordinator

Organic Alberta is looking for a summer student to coordinate events, educational activities and promotional campaigns. The position is based in Edmonton, AB.

$13/hr, 35 hrs/week for 15 weeks. Position begins early to mid-May.

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents under 30 and be returning to school full time in September.

Apply by5 pm April 10. Email resume and cover letter toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Only candidates short-listed for an interview will be contacted.

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Organic farm profile: Adagio Acres

Adagio Logo

This story is reprinted from the March 2015 edition ofManitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development's Rural Biz e-bulletin

What’s new about oats? Horses have been eating them for thousands of years – people too. Even the “Naked Oat” varieties being grown, milled, packaged and marketed by Adagio Acres (near Lundar) seem to have been around forever. So... how do you make a successful business out of something as commonplace as oatmeal?

Donald and Amy Nikkel say they began by thinking about their family and life goals. They wanted to live, and raise their young family, at a “...relaxed adagio tempo” that provides time for family, community and the things that have real value to us.” They set very basic goals and went out to find ways to accomplish them.

Location, location, location

Adagio Acres is a small family farm of 80 acres, situated in the Interlake region of Manitoba. It is several kilometres (km) from the main highway and quite isolated, with few neighbouring farms. As a result, its fields are separated by plenty of natural habitat. This has proven to be a primary strength for the farm, as it allows for wheat-free production and organic certification. As well, the couple lives close to Donald’s family’s farm. This enables them to share family life and save costs by sharing equipment.

Agriculture trends

When you look at the trends influencing agriculture today, you quickly discover that consumers have become very knowledgeable about what they are putting into theirs’ and their families’ bodies. They care about food safety and traceability, and the supply of nutritious, organic, local foods that are affordable. Donald and Amy realized their farm had value-added potential as they could fill the growing demand for organic, as well as wheat-free products (for people with gluten sensitivities). Adding to the farm’s strengths were the couple’s own abilities and accomplishments – their education and experience as farmers, teachers, timber-frame home builders and general handy people. When you look at all of this together, it’s easy to see how Adagio Acres Naked Oats was born.

Rolled and steel-cut “Naked” oats are now available in retail and bulk-sized packages at 32 (and growing) retail locations. Even other food-product processers, such as Half Pints Brewing Company, the Original Pancake House and Stella’s, are using Adagio Acres’ oats as an ingredient in menu items.

We all know things are rarely this simple. However, by taking one step at a time, doing your homework and working hard for all the right reasons, adding value to something new, or something right under your nose, is a real possibility.

And remember there’s help out there. Adagio Acres worked with MAFRD staff using the Growing Forward 2 Growing Value – Commercialization program to help them grow. Perhaps you can be Manitoba’s next success story.

Organic university