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Agriculture

Third horse dies at Stampede chuckwagon races; driver fined, disqualified

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CALGARY — A chuckwagon driver has been barred indefinitely from competing at the Calgary Stampede after a collision caused a horse’s death.

“We live and work as a family committed to the well-being of our beloved animals and this type of incident impacts us deeply to the core,” Stampede CEO Warren Connell said Friday.

The Stampede said driver Chad Harden impeded fellow driver Danny Ringuette’s chuckwagon and caused a third rig driven by Evan Salmond to collide with the track’s inner rail, resulting in severe injuries to a horse that led to its death.

The crash happened Thursday evening in the seventh heat of the Rangeland Derby. Three other horses on Salmond’s wagon had minor injuries.

An independent chuckwagon safety commission ruled Harden should be fined $10,000 and disqualified from the remainder of this year’s racing, which means he will not be invited to compete in future events.

“We don’t think that Chad deliberately meant to do this,” said Mike Whittle, chairman of the safety commission. “We have determined that there was driver error involved in his decision making.”

After viewing video and interviewing judges and the drivers directly involved, the commission informed Harden of its decision late Thursday.

“He provided us his thoughts,” Whittle said. “I won’t go into those thoughts, but I will say that we did inform Chad after our meeting and he is processing what we have told him.”

Whittle said he’s not aware of anything like this happening before.

He said Harden could technically ask to be reinstated as early as September, but there is no guarantee he would be allowed to compete again. Whittle said the decision is up to the Stampede, but the commission would be able to give input.

The Stampede has a zero tolerance policy for preventable accidents and injuries.

“The Stampede takes this very seriously. This is about our brand, this is about our commitment to the safety of our performers, both animals and people,” said Connell.

The horse death was the third during this year’s Stampede.

On Wednesday, a horse was euthanized after it broke a leg during a race, while another animal collapsed and died Monday due to what the Stampede called a medical condition.

Camille Labchuk, executive director of the animal welfare legal advocacy group Animal Justice, wants law enforcement to crack down on Stampede rodeo and chuckwagon events.

She said the large number of horses on the track, combined with the speed at which they’re running, make crashes inevitable.

“It’s illegal under Alberta’s provincial animal welfare laws to cause distress to animals and rodeo events aren’t exempt from these laws,” she said.

Labchuk said she takes no solace in the Stampede punishing Harden.

“I don’t think it’s particularly important whether somebody follows to the letter their internal rules, when we know that everyone participating in this event can foresee that those horses are going to die.”

The Calgary and Vancouver humane societies have also been critical of chuckwagon races.

“I think it’s fair to say that while we have a difference in fundamental values, we do agree on something,” said Stampede spokeswoman Kristina Barnes.

“We don’t ever want to see an animal injured when it heads out onto our chuckwagon track and I’m sure they would agree on that point.”

Lauren Krugel , The Canadian Press

Agriculture

Alberta removing tax exemption for commercial cannabis producers

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EDMONTON — Municipalities in Alberta are to get a new source of revenue next year when commercial cannabis producers start paying property taxes.

Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu says cannabis growers will no longer be classified as agricultural businesses and so won’t qualify for a tax exemption.

The change is to come into effect in the 2020 tax year.

Madu made the announcement at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta fall convention in Edmonton.

Municipal assessors will be responsible for market-value assessments and the government isn’t saying how much additional revenue is expected.

The tax change does not apply to greenhouse operations or industrial hemp cultivation.

Madu said Alberta’s current tax regulations don’t adequately address cannabis production, which doesn’t really fall under the traditional definition of agriculture.

“Cannabis production facilities are large industrial operations and like any other local businesses, they need to pay for municipal services that they use,” Madu told the convention. “Beginning next year, you will be able to collect taxes on these properties.”

Rural municipalities president Al Kemmere said the group welcomes the announcement.

“We’ve been asking the government to put cannabis-production facilities on equal footing with other industrial businesses since legalization. I’m glad the government listened to our concerns and acted swiftly.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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Ag Business

Producers have more than weather on their minds, FCC survey shows

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From Farm Credit Canada

Producers have more than weather on their minds, FCC survey shows

 

Regina, Saskatchewan, November 12, 2019 – Canadian producers are thinking well beyond weather conditions, commodity prices and yields when it comes to weighing their risks, according to a recent Farm Credit Canada (FCC) survey.

While production-related risks – such as weather, pests and disease – are still very much top of mind in every sector of Canadian agriculture, producers are also keenly aware of risks related to marketing, financial and human resources (matters involving employees, partners and family).

“Modern farming involves so much more than making decisions around production,” said Craig Klemmer, FCC’s principal agricultural economist. “It means keeping tabs on markets; ensuring your business can withstand sudden changes in commodity prices or economic conditions; and managing human resources while maintaining a safe work environment.”

The survey, conducted from July 11-15, showed a majority of farm operators reported a high level of concern for marketing (67 per cent of respondents), production (60 per cent) and financial (53 per cent) risks. Human resources and legal risks were less of a concern at 31 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively.

Looking at risk through the lens of individual sectors, marketing risks were most prominent among beef and grains/oilseed sector producers at 74 per cent, followed by the fruit/vegetable/greenhouse sector at 58 per cent and the supply managed sectors of dairy and poultry at 55 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively. Price and market access were among the top concerns.

Financial risk ranked highest among dairy, hog, cattle and other livestock producers, in the mid-50-per-cent range, and was slightly lower for the grains/oilseed and fruit/vegetable/greenhouse sectors. Financial risk was significantly less of a concern for poultry producers at 36 per cent.

Ensuring there is sufficient working capital was the most prominent financial concern across all sectors, followed by unfavourable changes in interest rates and meeting debt payment obligations. Almost 65 per cent of the respondents identified insufficient working capital as a risk to their operation. Out of this group, about 45 per cent indicated relying on off-farm income to mitigate this financial risk.

Transitioning farm operations to the next generation was identified as a concern for 44 per cent of respondents, with about half of those respondents indicating they have a succession plan. Transition concerns were the most prominent among grains/oilseeds and dairy producers, while workplace safety was a common concern among all sectors.

The survey also explored a variety of production-related risks. Concerns about the weather were most prominent in grains/oilseeds and beef sectors, while concerns related to pests and disease were mostly on the minds of poultry producers.

“The good news is most producers are in a solid financial position to withstand short-term impacts on their business,” Klemmer said. “We encourage producers to have a risk management plan that pulls together mitigation strategies, as well as identifies key risks and available solutions to manage these risks before they emerge.”

The survey involved 1,363 producers considered key decision makers for their operations. Based on the sample size, the survey has a margin of error plus/minus 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

By sharing agriculture survey results, FCC provides solid insights and expertise to help those in the business of agriculture achieve their goals. For more information and insights on Canadian agriculture, visit the FCC Ag Economics blog post at fcc.ca/AgEconomics. To learn more about the FCC Vision Panel, visit www.fccvision.ca.

FCC is Canada’s leading agriculture lender, with a healthy loan portfolio of more than $36 billion. Our employees are dedicated to the future of Canadian agriculture and its role in feeding an ever-growing world. We provide flexible, competitively priced financing, management software, information and knowledge specifically designed for the agriculture and agri-food industry. As a self-sustaining Crown corporation, our profits are reinvested back into the agriculture and food industry we serve and the communities where our customers and employees live and work while providing an appropriate return to our shareholder. Visit fcc.ca or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and on Twitter @FCCagriculture.

 

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