Category Archives: news

Veal Farmers of Ontario Becomes a Reality

New marketing board created on April 1st, 2015

The Ontario veal industry has realized a long sought after goal with the creation of the Veal Farmers of Ontario as Ontario’s newest marketing board.  The regulations under the Farm Products Marketing Act creating the board came into force on April 1st.

The inaugural Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) Board of Directors is comprised of eight producers who have been appointed by the Farm Products Marketing Commission for the first year of the organization’s operations.  At their meeting on April 1st, regulations and by-laws allowing for the start-up of operations and collection of its own licence fees were approved.

Brian Keunen was elected as Chair and Chris Vervoort was elected as Vice Chair.  Brian Keunen and his family have a grain-fed veal operation and milk replacer business near Palmerston.   Chris Vervoort and his family have a mixed operation of grain-fed veal, sheep and beef in addition to a hoof trimming and bedding business near Arthur.

Keunen has previously served as a Director on the Ontario Veal Association (OVA) Board of Directors for ten years as well as represented the veal industry on a number of committees including the Veal Risk Management Program reference committee and, most recently, on the Veal Code of Practice Review Committee.  Vervoort has previously served as a Director with the OVA for two years, and most recently, as its Vice President.

“I am pleased to represent Ontario’s veal farmers as we begin the work of the Veal Farmers of Ontario.  The Ontario Veal Association built a solid foundation during the past twenty five years of service to the veal industry” stated VFO Chair Brian Keunen. “I look forward to strengthening the connections we have in the calf industry, starting with the dairy farm all the way through the production system to processors, retailers and consumers” he added.

“There are a number of opportunities, but also challenges, that veal farmers need to address and I know the structure of the VFO will provide a more collective and stronger voice for all us involved in the Ontario veal industry” stated Vice Chair Chris Vervoort.

Also joining the first VFO Board of Directors is Pascal Bouilly- Cambridge, Judy Dirksen- Harriston, Randy Drenth- Clifford, Joyce Feenstra- Belwood, Tom Kroesbergen- Ailsa Craig and Tom Oudshoorn-Auburn.

“On behalf of the entire veal industry, I would like to thank Judy Dirksen for her ten years as President of the OVA and for her leadership and guidance that has brought us to this historical day” stated Keunen. “We would also like to thank our VFO staff for all their tireless work on this initiative and the staff and members of the Commission for all their support and guidance that has helped us realize our goals” added Keunen.

The creation of the VFO comes as a result of the producer expression of opinion vote conducted by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission in March 2013 where Ontario’s veal producers voted overwhelmingly in favour of a veal marketing board.  While new regulations have been created for the VFO, at the same time, exemptions have been provided from the Beef Cattle Marketing Act for veal cattle.

“The formation of the Veal Farmers of Ontario is a huge milestone for the Ontario veal industry and it is appropriate that it comes almost to the date of the 25th anniversary of the start up of the Ontario Veal Association” stated Executive Director Jennifer Haley.

The Ontario Veal Association was incorporated in 1990 under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act and has served the grain-fed and milk-fed veal sectors for twenty-five years through collaboration with the Beef Farmers of Ontario.  At the 2014 OVA Annual General Meeting, veal producers voted unanimously to formally dissolve the OVA and transfer all assets to the VFO.

Effective April 1st, the VFO has the regulatory power for the collection of its own licence fees set at $4.00/head, remaining the same amount as what was previously collected by the Beef Farmers of Ontario.  Important to note is that veal farmers will now be exempt from the beef check-off system so there will not be a double collection of fees.

The VFO is collaborating with industry partners to create awareness and understanding about the remittance of license fees.  Industry communications will be ongoing as VFO establishes policies and programs for the industry.

Please click here for a PDF of this news release.

New Canadians prefer taste, quality of Ontario meats; Study result

An extensive new study shows that new Canadians prefer the taste and quality of Ontario meat over imported product.

The study looked at the eating patterns, shopping habits, and taste preferences of new Canadians of African, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Caribbean, and European descent as they relate to the consumption of veal, goat, lamb and mutton, and rabbit.

The research was commissioned by the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency and the Ontario Livestock Alliance, which included current members Ontario Veal and Ontario Goat, and past member Ontario Rabbit.

“Although there are many differences between the various ethnic backgrounds, the one thing everyone shares in common is a preference for the taste and quality of Ontario-produced meats over those that are imported,” says Dennis Fischer, Chair of Ontario Sheep. “This means there is a definite opportunity for market expansion for Ontario farmers.”

Study results show similarities in meat preferences related to freshness, quality and price, as well as differences in demand patterns, such as specific holidays, and whether they like to buy their meat from a butcher shop or a supermarket chain. Data indicated that religion, cultural preferences, education levels, household income, and family size also influence eating and shopping choices of new Canadians.

Veal was found to be the most commonly consumed meat by new Canadians, followed by goat, and lamb and mutton. Rabbit was the least consumed, due at least in part to lack of availability and visibility.

By the year 2031, the population of new Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is expected to grow to more than 4.2 million people. This will result in increased demand for Ontario-raised meat and more than half of veal, lamb, goat and rabbit consumption will come from South Asian, South East Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants.

“The changing demographics of the GTA mean that we will have a growing number of potential customers for our products beyond our traditional consumers,” says Judy Dirksen, President of Ontario Veal. “This provides opportunities to develop new marketing relationships with processors and retailers who service the ethnic markets.”

Recommendations from the study encourage producer associations to work with their members to grow their understanding of the demographics and preferences of the different ethnic markets, and to encourage more and better linkages between farmers and processors. The research shows that although farmers are interested in new market opportunities, they’re not sure how to take advantage of them, and feel that better communication is needed throughout the entire value chain.

“There’s a real need for better collaboration between the partners in the value chain so that we can better serve the needs of new Canadians,” says Anton Slingerland, President of Ontario Goat. “The research shows us there is potential for everyone – farmers, processors, and retailers – to grow their business by making more Ontario meats available to serve demand from ethnic markets.”

The study was carried out in the GTA, which is home to seven out of 10 Ontario immigrants, and included 700 consumer surveys, 42 focus group participants, and interviews with value chain participants such as farmers, retailers, and processors.

All three organizations will be reviewing the study results and recommendations carefully as they plan future marketing initiatives. This project was funded in part by Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with GF2 delivery in Ontario.

The Ontario Veal Association is a producer-run organization representing both grain-fed and milk-fed veal farmers dedicated to promoting and enhancing a viable and competitive Ontario veal industry through innovation, marketing, advocacy and education. Visit

Ontario Goat represents Ontario’s milk, meat and fibre goat farmers with a united voice and is dedicated to enhancing the goat industry through education, collaboration, innovation and strategic alliances. Visit

The Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency is a producer organization representing all aspects of the sheep industry in Ontario. Established in 1985 under the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act, its mission is to enhance producer returns and provide consumers with premium lamb and sheep products by encouraging Ontario sheep producers to provide quality, year-round product through advocacy, industry capacity, research and development and market development. Visit

Please click here for a downloadable PDF of this press release


About the study:

  • Six ethnic groupings were established for the purposes of the study:
    • African (Eritrea, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Cameroon)
    • Middle Eastern (Iran, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Armenia, and Afghanistan)
    • South Asian (Bangladeshi, Bengali, East Indian, Guan, Gujarati, Ismailia, Kashmiri, Nepali, Pakistani, Punjabi, Sinhalese, and Sri Lankan)
    • Southeast Asian (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines)
    • Caribbean (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, and Haiti)
    • European (Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Russia, Ukraine, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Poland, and Switzerland)
  • The study was conducted by Integrity Intellectual Property Inc. of Lethbridge, AB.

About Ontario lamb, veal, and goat:

  • Lamb purchases in Ontario account for 57 per cent of total Canadian fresh lamb volume and 53 per cent of frozen lamb volume. However, only 16 per cent of households in the province buy lamb during the year.
  • In 2010, Canada produced approximately 310,000 grain and milk-fed veal calves. Farm gate value was estimated to have exceeded $225 million. Approximately 70 per cent of Canadian veal is produced in Quebec, which has approximately 400 veal farmers. Ontario reports approximately 300 producers.
  • Canada imports about 60 per cent of its national goat meat consumption, with the majority coming from Australia and New Zealand. Ontario’s meat goat herd is growing, with more than 43,000 head being processed in 2014, compared to less than 30,000 in 2008.


Review of Canada’s Code of Practice for Veal Calves has begun

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) is pleased to announce the review and update of the Code of Practice for Veal Calves. The review, initiated by the Canadian Veal Association (CVA), will be guided by NFACC’s Code development process.

“The Canadian Veal Association is looking forward to partnering with NFACC on the veal Code of Practice review process” stated André Roy, CVA President and Code Committee Chair. “The review and update of the 1998 veal Code will involve stakeholders from a wide cross section of the industry and will be focused on ensuring up-to-date and practical approaches to the care and welfare of calves raised for the veal market,” added Roy.

The Codes of Practice promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, care, transportation and other animal husbandry practices. They serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. Currently, there are Codes for 14 different farm animal species in Canada. The veal Code will be the tenth Code revised through the NFACC process. Visit for details and a timeline outlining the steps and progress made on the various Codes.

Stakeholder commitment is key to ensuring quality animal care standards are established and implemented. Stakeholders involved in the revision of the Code include farmers/producers, veterinarians, researchers and representatives from animal welfare and enforcement agencies, the retail and food service sector and government.

“Understanding all sides of the issue is very important. Canada’s Code development process enables all parties to be at table, making credible decisions to improve animal welfare,” stated Jeff Rushen PhD who represents the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) on the committee. The CFHS serves as the lead animal welfare organization on NFACC’s Code Development Committees.

The revised veal Code is scheduled for completion in 2017. Revisions to the Codes of Practice have been made possible by funding received from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada under Growing Forward 2, a federal –provincial –territorial initiative.

About NFACC 

NFACC is a collaborative partnership of diverse stakeholders created in 2005 to share information and work together on farm animal care and welfare. It is the national lead for farm animal care in Canada. For more information visit

About the Canadian Veal Association

The Canadian Veal Association (CVA) is a not‐for‐profit national organization dedicated to working on issues impacting the Canadian milk-fed and grain-fed veal industries through collaboration, innovation and strategic alliances.

Please click here for a downloadable PDF of this press release.

Improving Calf Barn Air Quality Through Positive Pressure Tube Systems and Barn Design Workshop

Each year the Dairyland Initiative in Wisconsin holds workshops to train veterinarians, building contractors, equipment suppliers and producers to design, install and operate successful positive pressure tube ventilation (PPTV) systems for calf housing. The Wisconsin system has very particular parameters that lead to success. This year the one day workshop will be held in Elora on January 14th, 2015.  Pre-registration is required.  For more information please see the attached flyer.

OASC Leaders Welcome the Removal of Mandatory AgriStability Participation from Enrollment Criteria for Provincial RMP Program


In the spring of 2011, farmer leaders across commodity groups came together with the provincial government to design a made-in-Ontario solution to help bring predictability, stability and bankability to their business operations. Established with much fanfare, a new provincial cost-shared Risk Management Program (RMP) was created to help stabilize the industry as many costs and prices are global in nature and far beyond the farmer’s control.

In the fall of 2013, Premier Wynne tasked the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food and senior ministry staff to work collaboratively with Ontario Agricultural Sustainability Coalition (OASC) leaders to review the RMP program and ensure the existing program and its funds were best serving farmers.

After a year of working with senior Ministry officials, our detailed analysis, measured against clear criteria have led OASC to conclude that the current RMP program is far superior to any of the other alternatives with respect to assisting job creation, bankability and predictability.

Through that review, it also became clear the mandatory requirement that all RMP participants also enroll in the federal AgriStability program was doing more harm than good given cuts to the AgriStability program and other challenges with the way AgriStability is currently operating.

The provincial government and farmers have worked well together in the creation of RMP and must continue to do so in order to convince the federal government to fix their broken safety net programs and work together in the interest of all of Canada’s rural and urban economies.

OASC would like to thank the Premier for establishing the informal joint RMP working group, as well as Minister Jeff Leal, Deputy Dr. Deb Stark and a long list of Ministry officials who treated us as trusted partners. We believe all ministries would be wise to examine the approach utilized by OMAFRA for use as a model for future government / stakeholder collaboration.


“Our year-long review confirmed our belief that Ontario farmers are well served by the design of the provincial RMP program. The changes announced today came at the request of OASC and we are pleased Minister Leal has listened to and acted on our concerns.”
Henry Van Ankum,
Chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario
Chair OASC

“Ontario is a national leader in providing risk management support to farmers. We worked directly with farm leaders across commodity groups to develop Ontario’s own Risk Management Program (RMP). Farm leaders, together with government, have determined that RMP is far superior to any other program in terms of assisting job creation, bankability and predictability for the agri-food sector. We need federal business risk management programs that, like RMP, work for Ontario’s farmers. Unfortunately, program cuts and design flaws have resulted in an eroded federal AgriStability program that is no longer meeting producer needs. I support OASC’s request to remove the AgriStability requirement for participation in the provincial RMP. This will allow Ontario farmers to have greater flexibility to choose the portfolio of tools that best meets their needs.”
Hon. Jeff Leal, MPP
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“The removal of the AgriStability requirement for participation in the provincial RMP program will help send a clear signal to the federal government that recent cuts to AgriStability and program design flaws have left federal safety-net programs wanting and in need of major improvements.”
Bob Gordanier
President, Beef Farmers of Ontario
Vice Chair, OASC

“We did not come to the decision to ask for this change lightly. There is nothing we want more than federal safety-net programs that work, programs that are properly funded, predictable, bankable, efficient and reflective of each of Canada’s unique regional needs. Without changes, AgriStability has a hard time passing any of those tests.”
Judy Dirksen
President, Ontario Veal Association

“Farm leaders are happy Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal is willing to bring his voice and office to our cause as we invite federal and provincial politicians across the country to join us in ensuring federal safety-net programs work for farmers in every region of the country”.
Dennis Fischer
Chair, Ontario Sheep

“While OASC leaders continue to encourage farmers to protect their businesses by participating in both RMP and AgriStability, there was a growing concern that problems with the AgriStability program would lead to farmers opting out of both progrms.”
Amy Cronin
Chair, Ontario Pork

For information contact:
Grain Farmers of Ontario – 519 767-6537
Beef Farmers of Ontario – 519 824-0334
Ontario Veal Association – 519 824-2942
Ontario Sheep – 519 836-0043
Ontario Pork – 519 767-4600

Dairy and Veal Healthy Calf Conference

The next Healthy Calf Conference will be November 2018. More details will be posted as they become available.

Thank you to our 2016 Sponsors.
If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please contact the office.

Important Check-Off Increase

Effective November 1st, 2014 the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has approved the requested increase to the mandatory provincial check-off fee by $1.00.

Check-off will be increased from $3.00 to $4.00.

For more information please see Beef Farmers of Ontario’s Check-Off FAQ and our Check-Off page.

Memorandum of Agreement signed between OVA and OSPC

(Guelph, ON – June 25, 2014) ‐ The Ontario Veal Association (OVA) and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) are pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to work together when investigating complaints about animal welfare on veal farms, on behalf of all their producers.

“Working with the farming community is very important to us,” says Connie Mallory, Ontario SPCA Chief Inspector. “We are pleased to be working together with Ontario Veal to help animals in need and enhance Animal Welfare across the province.”
The MOA will allow knowledgeable, industry representatives to accompany OSPCA inspectors to specific veal farm calls. Together, industry representatives and the OSPCA, will host joint education sessions on a bi-annual basis to exchange information and experiences related to on-farm animal care and code of practices issues.

Under the Agreement, both organizations will work together to address concerns of animal welfare. OVA will provide technical assistance to OSPCA Officers in cases where inadequate animal care may be occurring on the farm.

Furthermore, OSPCA and OVA have agreed that upon at least 48-hours-notice, OVA representatives will visit a farm in conjunction with OSPCA Officers for the purpose of investigating any complaints or allegations of inadequate animal care. Similarly, OSPCA has agreed to contact OVA with at least 48-hours-notice, except in situations where animals are in immediate distress, to arrange a joint inspection of the licensed farm property.

“The main purpose of the agreement between the OVA and the Ontario SPCA is to improve dialogue during on‐farm inspections, promote education over enforcement and engage in joint on‐farm training sessions to exchange information and experiences relating to proper care and management practices,” stated OVA President Judy Dirksen.

About the OVA
Ontario veal is dedicated to promoting and enhancing a viable and competitive Ontario veal industry through innovation, marketing, advocacy and education.

For more information:
Tammy Oswick-Kearney
Communications Coordinator

OASC Holds Second RAISE THE CAP for Risk Management Program (RMP) Event

Farmers in eastern Ontario gathered in support of Ontario’s 50,000 non-supply managed farms and their one message.

June 6, 2014 (Guelph, Ontario) – Members of the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition (OASC) held their second Raise the Cap for RMP event last night in eastern Ontario at Hoards Station Sale Barn in Campbellford. Farmers and their families, who represented several counties, were in attendance to call on candidates in the upcoming provincial election to pledge their support for raising the Risk Management Program cap from $100M to $175M.

OASC launched their Raise the Cap for RMP campaign on May 22 on a sheep and grain farm in Perth County with local farmers and provincial candidates. For the candidates running in the 2014 Ontario election, OASC has one message: raise the Risk Management Program cap to $175 million dollars annually to provide adequate funding for the program.

“The attendance at last night’s event emphasizes farmers’ strong support for Ontario’s Risk Management Program and that the program has made a significant difference in many farm operations since it was introduced in 2007,” shares Henry Van Ankum, Chairman of OASC. “Thriving farms create a thriving rural and urban economy. Ontario farmers must have access to stable, predictable business risk management programs to allow them to make investments in their family businesses and strengthen rural communities,” adds Henry.

Market prices, drastic weather and input prices, all out of the control of farm businesses, creates volatilities for the non-supply managed sector. A healthy RMP is essential for farmers who want to invest in their operations – either through expansion or innovation – and an important tool that farmers can depend on in times of need.

“With the election only days away, we want to thank the candidates who have already pledged their support for raising the RMP cap for Ontario’s 50,000 non-supply managed farms,” says Van Ankum. “Strong rural communities strengthen Ontario. All of Ontario wins when you invest in our farmers.”

The RMP program currently has a cap of $100 million dollars. However, the cap impairs the program from providing price stability for farm businesses. The cap puts investments that generate jobs and growth for the non-supply managed sector at risk.

The Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition is comprised of Ontario’s leading non-supply managed commodity organizations, including Beef Farmers of Ontario, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Pork, Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency and Ontario Veal.

For Photos and More Information:
OASC ‐ Debra Conlon (226) 821-4199
Beef Farmers of Ontario ‐ LeaAnne Wuermli (519) 824-0334
Grain Farmers of Ontario ‐ Debra Conlon (226) 821-4199
Ontario Pork ‐ Mary Jane Quinn (519) 767-4600
Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency – Jennifer MacTavish (519) 836-0043
Ontario Veal Association ‐ Erin MacDuff (519) 824-2942

Factsheet: Salmonella Dublin

A new threat has been found in Ontario – recent tests have revealed Salmonella Dublin in a veal calf operation. This bacteria can cause massive devastation to a herd and is transmissible to humans as well as other species. Frequently, this bacteria is antibiotic-resistant, making heightened biosecurity measures crucial to maintain herd health status. Producers are urged to take precautions with new or sick calves on the farm.

In Quebec, Salmonella Dublin was first discovered in 2011. Since then, positive test results have been popping up province-wide, with 75% of the strains showing ampicillin, ampicillin-sulbactam, ceftiofur, and/or tetracycline resistance. In 2011, 13 veal farms were identified to have Salmonella Dublin infection. Salmonella Dublin is immediately notifiable in Ontario, meaning laboratory diagnoses are passed on to the Provincial government for appropriate response.

The bacteria are shed through feces and milk. Some animals may become lifetime carriers of the infection. With a 50% mortality rate, Salmonella Dublin can cause severe devastation. Stress – from overcrowding, poor air quality, co-infections, transportation, or nutritional deficiencies – can trigger the symptoms of this bacterial infection. Testing and culling is the only eradication protocol currently suggested for infected herds. With proper biosecurity measures, detailed below, the spread of Salmonella Dublin can be limited.


Normal salmonellosis presents as a gastro-intestinal issue; however Salmonella Dublin most often presents as a respiratory illness. Calves less than six months old are at the highest risk for infection, but the whole herd is at risk.

Calves will show signs through:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea (especially terminally)
  • Dehydration
  • Septicemia
  • Unwillingness to eat
  • Abortion in cows

It is important to note that carrier animals may not display any symptoms, but continue to shed the organisms in manure and milk.

This bacteria can infect humans. Fecal-oral introduction and raw milk consumption are high-risk activities. Salmonella Dublin in humans can cause illness and death. If you or your family members are displaying the following symptoms, seek assistance immediately:

  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Abdominal cramping

Very young or elderly people, those with weakened immune systems, and those who are pregnant have the highest risk of becoming infected.

Protecting the Herd

Ensuring that farm visitors are not carrying the bacteria is the first step to controlling spread. Farm-associated vehicles – including milk trucks, feed trucks, livestock transporters, and deadstock vehicles – all pose the risk of introducing Salmonella Dublin to the farm. Disinfection of trucks, boots and clothing when moving between farms will help to keep your herd healthy.

New calves and cows should be quarantined upon arriving on the farm. Since stress often triggers this illness it is likely that the calf, if infected, will soon show symptoms. Feed and care for the quarantined animals last, and disinfect anything with fecal or oral contact after each use.

Identification & Treatment

Salmonella Dublin outbreaks become endemic in times of poor environmental management: provide comfortable, clean, well-ventilated areas for calves that are, or may become, ill. Disinfection of the environment requires dilute chlorine bleach, phenols, quaternary ammonium compounds or oxidizing agents (like Virkon-S). Follow the recommended use on the product’s label to ensure that the bacteria are not transmissible.

Fecal, lung tissue, and bulk milk tests are available to check the status of your herd. If a positive result is found, immediately isolate the infected animal(s). These tests are made available through your herd veterinarian.

Since Salmonella Dublin is multi-drug resistant, it is a difficult infection to treat. Some antibiotics may treat secondary infections but the problem still remains. This residual bacteria may continue to be shed, infecting more herd mates. Providing sick calves with proper nutrition, ample water supply, and good air quality, gives the calves the best chance of survival.

Dairy farmers should also exercise caution as the bacteria can be shed through the milk. If feeding milk to calves from infected dairy cows you will increase the likelihood of the spread of disease in your herd. Bulk milk tank testing is available.

or 519-824-2942.