Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is a producer-run organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing a viable and competitive Ontario veal industry through
innovation, marketing, advocacy and education.
VFO STATEMENT: Update on COVID-19
Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO), like so many other businesses and organizations, is committed to doing our part in the shared and unprecedented battle against COVID-19. The health and safety of our staff, our board members, our members and all our families is of paramount importance. Please be advised that effective immediately, our office is now closed until further notice and staff are working remotely from home.
We will do our best to maintain services to our members and have put in place protocols and procedures for our organization’s continuity. We will continue to communicate and work with industry partners to ensure our sector remains uninterrupted in these new and uncertain times. By implementing this strategy, we hope to be able to do our part by practicing social distancing with the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19.
As well, VFO will be postponing—until further notice—our popular consumer campaign and contest “Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich” which was due to start later this week. With the changes in the foodservice sector, this is the right thing to do and we will find alternate ways in which we can support our foodservice partners and family businesses in these new and trying times, and in the days ahead.
For more information about managing COVID-19 in the agriculture industry, the risk to the work environment and employee health and safety, read the special briefing provided by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC).and we will respond as soon as possible.
Thank you to all of our members for your support and understanding during this challenging time. Please be safe and stay healthy.
View the full statement here.
ANNUAL VFO BOARD OF DIRECTOR’S AWARD WINNER ANNOUNCED
Recognizing dedication and service to the veal cattle industry
Guelph, Ontario, 26 March 2020 – Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was pleased to announce this year’s VFO Board of Director’s Award winner at its recent Annual General Meeting and Producer Education Day held at the Arden Park Hotel in Stratford on March 11, 2020.
The VFO Board of Director’s Award is presented to individuals or groups who have helped the VFO Board achieve its mandate. This year, Mr. Tom Kroesbergen Sr. was recognized for his leadership and vision for the veal cattle industry. He recently completed the maximum nine-year term as a Director, and most recently as Chair, with the Toronto Stockyards Land Development Board (TSYLDB), representing the veal sector.
“During Tom’s time with the TSYLDB, the board was able to clarify its mandate and build expertise in order to not only preserve the original distribution for its members, but look at ways to diversify and grow the funds for future generations,” says Jennifer Haley, Executive Director, VFO.
With Kroesgbergen Sr.’s leadership as Chair for the past six years, the TSYLDB continued to ensure good management of the properties, including lease renewals and ongoing relationships with major retail tenants. As well, the board engaged in a number of strategic planning exercises with a look to the future to ensure that the board stays up to date on land use planning in a constantly evolving area of the City of Toronto.
“We thank Tom for his dedication and service to the veal sector, the livestock sector as a whole and for his leadership on the TSYLDB. It was an honour to present this award to my father in recognition of his commitment to our industry,” says Tom Kroesbergen, Chair, VFO.
View the full statement here.
VFO enters into agreements with the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency
Partnership strengthens the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off program
The Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) and the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency (the Agency) are pleased to announce they have entered into agreements to strengthen Canadian veal marketing as a part of the larger Canadian beef and veal marketing initiative.
“This agreement between our two organizations ensures that VFO is meeting its obligations while at the same time providing value to both organizations with respect to programs and initiatives that will benefit our members and strengthen the overall Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off program,” said Tom Kroesbergen, VFO Chair.
“For our VFO members, it is very important to understand that there is no change to the licence fee rates or the amount being deducted from each head of veal cattle sold,” said Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director. VFO will be internally allocating a portion of its licence fees to be remitted to the Agency and will have full control over how these funds are allocated to veal specific programs.
Haley also explains that one of the additional benefits of the agreements will be the ability of the Agency to collect and remit to VFO licence fees on Ontario veal cattle that are processed outside of Ontario.
The Agreements will provide the opportunity for additional investments to be made into veal programming and marketing activities both domestically and in high-value global markets.
“As part of our overall strategic vision, VFO believes it is important to leverage the excellent marketing resources and infrastructure that are already in place with Canada Beef and we look forward to partnering with them to promote Canadian Veal both domestically and in export markets,” added Haley.
Agency Chair Chad Ross is confident the new Service and Collection Agreements will set up both organizations for success.
“We have worked hard to structure the Agreements in a way that ensures we can work together to bring more value for veal producers in Canada,” said Ross. “We continue to be committed to measurable returns for the check-off and import levy that are invested in our country, and that includes our veal producers as well.”
“Adding a member to the Agency’s Marketing Committee whose focus is veal marketing adds value to the skill set of our committee as a whole,” said Melinda German, General Manager of the Agency.
The Agreements between the Agency and VFO create consistency and aligned processes after the separation of VFO from the Beef Farmers of Ontario in 2015.
View the full statement here.
VFO STATEMENT: Veal carcass weight limit increase
Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is very pleased to share some great news with our members and industry stakeholders concerning an issue we have worked very diligently on–obtaining an increase to the veal carcass weight limit. As of January 15, 2020, the weight limit for a veal carcass has been increased from 180 kg to 190 kg. The VFO, through our collaboration with the Canadian Veal Association (CVA), worked very hard over a very long period of time to make this amendment a reality. Please review this news release from the CVA for more details. It is up to our industry now to use this tool wisely.
What you need to know and why this matters:
- This amendment now brings the maximum weight limit for a veal carcass from 180 kg to 190 kg and came into effect January 15, 2020.
- The purpose of the amendment is to provide the Canadian veal industry with the flexibility and opportunity to manage veal carcass weights throughout the supply chain.
- The extra 10 kg provides a ‘sleeve’ to give both producers and processors some breathing room. If properly managed by everyone, the sleeve can reduce the number of overweight carcasses; and reduce the losses for both the producer and the processor.
- It is very important that all veal producers target their maximum shipping weights for 180 kg so that there remains some flexibility within the system to manage the veal carcass weights.
- Veal carcasses that go over the maximum weight limit of 190 kg are deemed ungraded beef carcasses.
- Processors need to send the appropriate market signals with purchasing ‘right-weighted’ veal cattle.
- The sleeve is an important tool to help producers and processors manage risk and ensure there is some tolerance in the supply chain if properly managed.
Join the VFO Board of Directors!
Call for nominations extended one week
The Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) Board of Directors is seeking interested dairy calf and veal producers to get involved in our organization. Your input into the future direction of the organization is vital to maintaining a strong and active voice for VFO. All voting producer members of VFO, with their membership in good standing, are eligible for nomination.
VFO directors are provided a meeting per diem of $250/day and reimbursement for travel expenses. Directors actively participate in approximately seven to nine Board meetings per year (in person and conference calls) held at our offices in Guelph. Directors work on behalf of the Ontario dairy calf and veal sectors on projects, issues and initiatives that benefit the membership of the organization.
Interested candidates must complete a self-nomination form found here and submit by no later than February 7, 2020 for review by the Nominating Committee. There will be no nominations from the floor accepted. Elections, if required, will take place at the VFO Annual General Meeting & Producer Education Day on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
VFO STATEMENT: Ryding-Regency licence cancellation
Guelph, Ontario, December 3, 2019–On December 2, 2019, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) received notification that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), after a thorough and comprehensive review, has canceled the Safe Food for Canadians licence #3WYHVFPD (Est. 99) of Ryding-Regency Meat Packers LTD. As well, the CFIA cancelled two additional licences associated with Ryding-Regency Meats LTD including Canadian Select Meats Inc. #6NTLWYHV (operating under St. Ann’s Foods Inc.) and The Beef Boutique LTD. #8HMG4GLC (operating under St. Ann’s Foods Inc.).
The cancellation notice has been posted on the CFIA website and can be found HERE.
This is a huge loss for the Ontario veal sector, as Ryding-Regency was the only Federally licenced processing plant for veal cattle in Ontario. This closure will impact not only present, but future processing opportunities for veal producers.
The Ontario cattle industry is already under pressure with a lack of processing capacity and the cancellation of Ryding-Regency’s licence is a further hit on a depressed market cycle for veal cattle producers.
VFO continues to work closely with our industry colleagues including Beef Farmers of Ontario, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and others to seek solutions in resolving the threat facing cattle producers with the lack of processing capacity and competitiveness.
Read the full statement here.
Veal farmers applaud new legislation protecting Ontario producers
Ontario Government takes steps to better protect farmers, livestock and our food supply
Guelph, Ontario, December 3, 2019–Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was pleased to join Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman at Queen’s Park yesterday to announce and introduce new legislation that will, if passed, better protect farmers and their animals. VFO congratulates the Minister on taking this decisive and necessary action to protect the province’s food supply.
“The Minister has listened to the concerns from across the supply chain and is taking meaningful steps to protect our farmers, our livestock and our food supply,” says VFO Chair Tom Kroesbergen. “The threat of on-farm trespassing has caused enormous stress for our farmers, and we appreciate the attention the Minister has given to the seriousness of this issue,” he adds.
The Security From Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019 attempts to address the unique risks and challenges posed by unwanted visitors and trespassing onto a farm or food processing facility, including risks to the safety of farmers, their families, and employees, exposure of animals to stress and disease, and the introduction on contaminants into our food supply. The health and safety of farmers and their livestock are integral components of the proposed legislation.
The act incorporates stiffer penalties for those convicted of trespassing, including escalating fines for first and multiple offences, allowing courts to consider additional factors that may result in an increased fine, and ordering restitution for damages to livestock or theft. It also offers additional protection for farmers against civil liability from those injured while contravening the act and rendering consent to enter the premises invalid if it was obtained under duress or false pretenses.
VFO would like to thank Minister Hardeman for bringing this important legislation forward, following extensive consultations with industry stakeholders this fall. “VFO has been actively engaged on this issue on behalf of our members and will continue to work with the Minister and his staff in order to protect our farm families and their businesses,” stated Jennifer Haley, Executive Director.
Read the full release here.
VFO LICENCE FEES SET TO INCREASE NOVEMBER 1, 2019
Expansion of consumer marketing programs will drive demand for Ontario veal
Guelph, Ontario, October 24, 2019–Effective November 1, 2019, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) licence fees will increase by $1.50 to $5.50 per head.
The VFO thanks their members for the overwhelming support shown at the 2019 Annual General Meeting to mirror the implementation timelines and licence fee/check-off level increase planned by Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO). VFO has worked with BFO to ensure simultaneous implementation of both the VFO licence fee increase and the BFO check-off increase to reduce confusion in the cattle marketplace and ensure compliance with all shared industry partners.
“Licence fees are an investment in our industry, and the VFO Board is sensitive to the current and very real financial challenges veal producers are experiencing with prices and bringing veal cattle to market,” says Tom Kroesbergen, Chair, VFO. “VFO has not increased licence fees since its inception on April 1, 2015, and these funds will be applied directly towards expanding marketing and consumer relations efforts in order to create more opportunities to grow the Ontario veal marketshare,” he continues.
Expanding marketing initiatives such as the popular Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich contest and campaign, retail and consumer engagement strategies, culinary education programming, consumer marketing and awareness, research, and export market development, will create more opportunities to grow demand for Ontario veal.
“With increased demand for finished Ontario veal cattle, producers should expect more stabilized markets for quality male dairy calves, benefiting all members of the supply chain,” explains Pascal Bouilly, Vice-Chair, VFO. “Together, we will build a proactive and engaged dairy calf and veal industry in Ontario,” he adds.
The VFO Board of Directors, as a regulated marketing board, has the authority to raise (or lower) licence fees as outlined in the Farm Products Marketing Act and Ontario Regulation 58/15 Veal Cattle Marketing without the approval of their voting members.
More information about how your licence fees work for you can be found here.
View the full release here.
Updated veal Cost of Production tool launched
Guelph, Ontario, September 19, 2019 –The Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce that the Cost of Production (COP) tool, developed by the VFO and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), is now available on their websites.
The COP tool, created in an Excel format, will help producers calculate their annual costs and use them for planning. It has been designed to accommodate multiple production systems, including growing to finishing, starting with preconditioned calves, or a combination of both. The COP tool is a revision of the previous tool, last updated in 2008, and allows producers to input their own data.
“With the current and very real financial challenges veal producers are experiencing with prices and bringing veal cattle to market, the VFO Board of Directors identified updating the COP tool as a priority for our industry to help our producers,” said Jennifer Haley, Executive Director, VFO.
The update began in the fall of 2018. As part of the initiative, a focus group was convened to provide technical information on typical production practices used in the veal industry. A Working Committee was charged with guiding the project, and the VFO Board of Directors reviewed that the correct information was captured in the COP formula for veal, and that it accurately reflected production systems in place in Ontario.
The COP tool also identifies key risk factors for veal production and the range of possible outcomes, which can help in planning for ways to manage and mitigate them. The Ontario veal sector does not have COP data on file, which continues to be a challenge for the industry.
“Looking at costs in this tool will help farmers make sure they’re paying attention to all aspects of their operation when identifying areas for cost-savings and evaluating if the time is right for expansion opportunities,” explained Judy Dirksen, VFO Director and member of the Working Committee.
View the full release here.
Mississauga’s Kantene Restaurant is now home to Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich
Sandwich maker places first among 83 nominations
Guelph, Ontario, June 15, 2019 – In a competition that was fueled by the fervour of veal sandwich lovers from across this great province, the Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) today recognized Kantene Restaurant in Mississauga, as home to Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich 2019. With more than 80 sandwich makers nominated and three rounds of judging, their win has been well earned.
“Thousands of people in Ontario took the time to nominate their favourite veal sandwich maker,” said Jennifer Haley, Executive Director of the VFO. “We’ve found that the passion of veal sandwich fans is nearly equal to that of our members, who proudly raise grain-fed veal on their family farms. For our farmers, it’s fulfilling to know their hard work is coveted by so many!”
The final event in the sandwich search had the top three makers presenting their best in front of friends and family at The Market Kitchen in Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market. Judging was overseen by John Catucci, host of You Gotta Eat Here! and the new Big Food Bucket List on Food Network Canada, last year’s winners Sian Burns and Dina Marsillo of Kitchener’s Nostra Cucina and Tom Kroesbergen, Chair of the VFO. They were joined by Burlington’s own Melinda Paletta who won her spot at the judges’ table through a contest hosted by the VFO.
“Judging Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich competition is probably the most Italian thing I have done in my life,” said Catucci. “It wasn’t a hardship by any means, but it was a real challenge to select just one winner. Each maker brings their own inspirations and history to this simple combination of Ontario veal and tomato sauce on a bun.”
Rounding out the finalists were California Sandwiches, Claremont in Toronto and Tutti Panini from Richmond Hill. In the end though it was Mississauga’s Kantene Restaurant who earned the title of Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich 2019.
Chef Harith Darshana creates a spectacular veal sandwich that surprises with bright, fresh flavours. Kantene’s Panko-breaded Ontario veal is a little thicker than most but remains tender with a light crispy coating. Named Veal Supreme, it’s topped with grilled eggplant, melted bocconcini in a fresh tomato-based basil sauce with melted Provolone and crispy Parmesan on a soft bun.
For more about Kantene, visit kantene.com.
View the full release here.
The search for Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich becomes an award-winning campaign!
Province-wide search earns edana and Veal Farmers of Ontario an IABC Ovation Award of Merit
Brampton, Ontario, May 30, 2019 – edana integrated marketing and the Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) not only found Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich, but also earned kudos on the marketing campaign from the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). For building significant word-of-mouth for Ontario veal via social media, traditional media outlets and the foodservice trade the IABC Ovation Awards’ judging committee recognized the program with an Award of Merit in Marketing Communications.
The 2018 Search for Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich targeted Ontario veal lovers, turning them into vocal brand ambassadors and advocates for their favourite sandwich spots. Consumers nominated their favourites via social media. Once securing 25 nominations the sandwiches were reviewed by a panel of judges. The contest, its celebrity spokesperson, John Catucci, host of You Gotta Eat Here! on Food Network Canada, ongoing social content and the final head-to-head showdown created a platform that generated 129 restaurant nominations, 1.7 million social media impressions and an audience reach of 4.2 million in traditional media.
“We are very proud to have the search for Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich recognized by the IABC,” said Jennifer Haley, Executive Director of the VFO. “This program has played a significant role in helping the VFO share positive stories about Ontario-raised veal cattle and provided a catalyst for increased veal sales and menu adoption within the foodservice industry.”
“The search for Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich leveraged the benefits of social media to ignite a positive conversation among Ontario consumers,” said Cara Ferguson, edana’s President and Chief Firestarter. “Being able to leverage that positive dialogue as proof of public interest in Ontario veal among mainstream media and foodservice trade has really been the greatest success of the entire initiative.”
Not to rest on their laurels, edana and the VFO have been back on the hunt for 2019’s maker of Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich since mid-March. The response has again been significant, with new restaurants from previously unrepresented cities participating in the program. The next champion will be crowned at an exclusive event held at Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market on June 15, 2019.
Veal Farmers of Ontario elects Executive for 2019
Guelph, Ontario, April 17, 2019 –The Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce the re-election of Middlesex County veal producer Tom Kroesbergen Jr. as Chair and Pascal Bouilly (Cambridge) as Vice-Chair, at a recent meeting of the Board of Directors.
Kroesbergen was appointed to the VFO Board of Directors in 2015 and has served as Chair since 2018. Kroesbergen, alongside his family, operates Sunnydale Acres near Ailsa Craig, which has been home to their grain-fed veal business for over 26 years. In addition, the family cash crops, and runs both a broiler operation and beef feedlot.
“Looking forward in 2019, I know we will have some challenges ahead with pricing and bringing veal cattle to market, but there will also be opportunities which we can harness both as producers and as an organization,” says Kroesbergen. “Collecting licence fees from our members in order to continue to do the work we have set out to do in our strategic plan is both a privilege and a responsibility that we do not take lightly and one that we will not defer.”
Bouilly, the Dairy Calf Supply Chain Manager with Grober Nutrition, will enter his fourth year on the Board and his second as Vice-Chair. Bouilly is responsible for the started dairy calves program and provides technical support for their sales team.
“As Vice-Chair, I look forward to continuing to address the issues directly impacting dairy calf and veal producers with my fellow directors,” says Bouilly. “No other organization focuses on the dairy calf and finishing veal cattle the way we do, and we will strive to further strengthen our relationship with the dairy sector to reach our common calf care goals.”
Along with Kroesbergen and Bouilly, Cameron Knip was acclaimed to the VFO Board at the 2019 Annual General Meeting and Producer Education Day in Stratford, on March 6. Knip raises veal cattle south of Exeter; he also has a finishing barn for market hogs and cash crops with his family.
Knip fills the seat of Jim Millson, a dairy and veal producer from Enniskillen, who has retired from the board following completion of his term.
“We thank Jim for his service and dedication to the Ontario veal industry and will miss his words of encouragement from around the board table,” says Kroesbergen. “We look to Cameron to bring a fresh and business-focused perspective to our board discussions.”
Returning to the eight member VFO Board of Directors are Judy Dirksen, Joyce Feenstra, Brian Keunen, Phil Kroesbergen and Rita Maciukiewicz.
Back row: Joyce Feenstra, Brian Keunen, Cameron Knip, Phil Kroesbergen, Judy Dirksen
Front row: Pascal Bouilly, Tom Kroesbergen, Rita Maciukiewicz
View the full release here.
Annual VFO Board of Directors’ award winner announced
Guelph, Ontario, 26 March 2019 – The Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was pleased to announce this year’s VFO Board of Directors’ Award winner at its recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Producer Education Day held at the Arden Park Hotel in Stratford on March 6, 2019.
The VFO Board of Director’s Award is presented to individuals or groups who have helped the VFO Board achieve its mandate. This year, Ms. Laurie Nicol was recognized for her dedication and service to the veal cattle industry over her 33-year career at the Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP).
“We have truly appreciated working with Laurie on many projects to advance the veal industry over the years, including the successful Homegrown Ontario program,” says Jennifer Haley, executive director, VFO.
Nicol has been instrumental in dealing with several challenges and political issues that directly impacted veal production. Her commitment to ensuring our industry thrives and continuously improves is second to none.
“We thank Laurie for all that she has done for the veal sector and look forward to her continued support in her new appointment on the Ontario Beef Cattle Financial Protection Board,” says Tom Kroesbergen, Chair, VFO.