Category Archives: Press Releases

VFO hosts its Inaugural AGM on March 9th

Exciting first year of operation for VFO to be celebrated at AGM

Veal Farmers of Ontario’s (VFO) inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Producer Education Day will be held Wednesday, March 9th at Tavistock Memorial Hall and is an opportunity for the veal industry to reflect on its year as Ontario’s newest regulated marketing board.

“I am pleased to invite all veal cattle producers- from the dairy calf to finished veal- to attend our inaugural AGM and Producer Education Day. This is the one day of the year that we can all come together to discuss our industry” stated VFO Chair Brian Keunen.

One of the highlights of the AGM portion of the day will be the presentation of the VFO’s new strategic plan and vision for the Ontario veal industry.  In addition, the Producer Education speaker line up will provide something for everyone with topics focusing on animal health, research, and consumer demand.

As consumers take a greater interest in where their food comes from, it is important that all partners in the supply chain understand their role in supplying quality products. Jorge Correa, Technical Director with the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), will present an overview on the questions consumers are asking around food safety, antibiotic use and animal welfare and what his members expect from their supply chains. Following Correa’s presentation, he will be joined by Bob Wyanands, Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec, and Brian Keunen, VFO Chair, for a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities with the adoption of the Verified Veal Program (VVP), the Canadian on-farm food safety program for veal, in both Quebec and Ontario. “As producers, we must understand the expectations of our customers and consumers so that we can plan ahead, adapt our operations where needed, stay competitive and protect our marketplace” stated Keunen.

Aaron Hibma, Director of Food Safety and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Services with Mallot Creek Consulting, will present an update on the Veal Carcass Benchmarking Study comparing the results from the initial 2002 study to 2015. Hibma will discuss what has changed since the 2002 study and what has remained the same with regards to carcass size, conformation, colour and production.  “The valuable information learned from this important study will help producers respond to changing demands of the marketplace and understand developing trends to be able to make more informed business decisions to improve profitability”, stated Kendra Keels, Director, Producer & Industry Development.


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VFO and Partner in Developing a Veal Market Report App

VFO’s market report evolves to address challenges to profitability in the veal sector

Guelph, ON, October 16, 2015 – As part of a larger project to improve the financial sustainability of the veal sector, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) and have developed and just released a new Veal Market Report app, now available to download for Apple and Android users.  A version of the app has also been optimized for the BlackBerry Z30, available directly from VFO.

The co-sponsored mobile application will allow Ontario veal producers to monitor current Ontario market prices and trends by providing up-to-date weekly market information.

“Veal Farmers of Ontario understands the importance of timely access to market information,” said Kendra Keels, VFO’s Director, Producer and Industry Development.  “Producers have been using the Veal Market Report to make business decisions since 1996. This new app is a tool to help producers utilize technology for on-the-go business management, allowing for critical decisions to be made with the most current information.”

The app’s market reports, compiled by VFO, are based on live sales from auction market data electronically submitted to Beef Farmers of Ontario and direct sales reported by packers to Veal Farmers of Ontario. Users will also be provided with the newsfeed, so they can be well-informed of industry news wherever they are.

A second phase of the application, to be launched this winter, will include graphs to allow producers to visualize current market data and see trends over time.   The market report will continue to be available in its current format via e-mail, fax and the VFO website.  

About Veal Farmers of Ontario

Veal Farmers of Ontario 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.

About Professional Services Professional Services is a leading provider of innovative information products and services for the global agriculture and food industries. Technology is driving many exciting possibilities in agriculture. The increase in use of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices is changing the way people consume information and interact with each other. The focus of Professional Services is to provide cost-effective mobile marketing tools making it easier for clients to connect with their online audience.

The Ontario Farm Innovation Program is funded through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.

Click here to download the app for Apple or Android. For the BlackBerry Z30 version of the app please contact VFO directly.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of this press release.

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.

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

Veal, Goat and Rabbit On – Farm Innovation Challenge Deadline Fast Approaching

The deadline for entries is fast approaching for the inaugural “On-Farm Innovation Challenge” organized by Ontario Veal, Ontario Goat and Ontario Rabbit. Veal, goat and rabbit producers are encouraged to submit their entries by March 30th, 2012 in order to be eligible to win a number of cash prizes!

“If necessity is the mother of invention, than our farmers truly are some of the best inventors and innovators out there” stated Industry Development Manager Kendra Keels. “Every day on the farm, out of pure necessity and using common sense, farmers are always able to find solutions that can save both time and money” she added.

Keels added that sometimes farmers come up with the simplest of inventions or modifications on their farm that can make a really big difference in how the work is preformed or managed. “It is important to share these innovations and inventions with your fellow producers so that we can continue to develop our respective industries together” stated Keels. “That is why wehave implemented this challenge in order to bring to light some of the great ideas that are out there and in use every day” she added.

Ontario Veal, Ontario Goat and Ontario Rabbit, all partners in the Ontario Livestock Alliance, are calling on producers to showcase their inventions and innovations by entering the On-Farm Innovation Challenge. The submissions will be judged by an industry panel and there will also be a “People’s Choice” award voted on by fellow producers. All entries will be on display at this year’s Joint Annual General Meetings and Producer Education Day, taking place on April 11th at the Stratford Rotary Complex. Winners from each category will be announced at the Focus on Production Forum being held on June 6th.

“Innovations and inventions can be related to any aspect of your operation. The possibilities are endless” suggested Keels. She indicated that producers could look at areas such as labour saving techniques; animal handling; improvements in machinery; information management and computers; manure handling; ventilation; environmental issues; safety precautions; energy usage; weighing and sorting of animals; and more.

Full “On Farm Innovation Challenge” rules and entry details can be found on each of the organization’s websites:,, or by calling the Ontario Livestock Alliance office at 519-824-2942.

The challenge is only open to members of Ontario Veal, Ontario Goat and Ontario Rabbit. Categories for entry include: Veal; Rabbit; Dairy Goat; and Meat/Fibre Goat.

The Ontario Livestock Alliance is a partnership between the Ontario Veal Association, Ontario Goat and Ontario Rabbit with the goal of providing outstanding service to our respective members.

The Ontario Veal Association proudly serves Ontario’s grain-fed and milk-fed veal farmers. Ontario Goat represents Ontario’s milk, meat and fibre goat farmers with a united voice. Ontario Rabbit is committed to developing and enhancing Ontario’s progressive rabbit sector.

Veal Industry Receives Traceability Foundations Initiative Funding for Gap Analysis

The Ontario Veal Association (OVA) recently secured approximately $140,000 in funding to complete the Gap Analysis of Traceability Capabilities and Practices in Ontario’s Veal Industry project as part of the Traceability Foundations Initiative (TFI).

The project will examine the existing traceability and information sharing capabilities of the Ontario veal industry and determine industry’s preparedness for implementing traceability systems to improve profitability and competitiveness. The project will identify options that can be pursued in order to better facilitate future information sharing among members of the supply chain, from dairy producer to abattoir, that are applicable to both milk and grain fed veal production.

International veal and beef supply chains will be analyzed to identify the location and type of information that is collected and shared, and the way that specific types of information are used to achieve competitive advantages. The type of information that is being captured and shared at different points along the supply chain from dairy farms through to processors in the production of both milk and grain fed veal in Ontario versus the type of information that could be captured and shared will be identified through a series of focus groups and supply chain partner interviews.

The project results will identify the information that veal producers would like to access that is currently unavailable, and how the identified information could be more effectively and efficiently captured given existing infrastructure. Tabletop demonstrations of mock recall events will also be performed to ensure the proposed plan is functional from a food safety perspective.

Possessing an accurate insight into current practices will enable Ontario’s veal industry to develop, implement and utilize traceability systems more effectively. Benefits would expand beyond improvements in their ability to track and trace animals and products and begin to positively impact and grow their business models. As seen in the UK, the Netherlands and other jurisdictions, such a system would enable producers and other members of the supply chain to continually improve the profitability of their operations by possessing the ability to make better business decisions and reduce costs while simultaneously increasing revenues.

The first step in achieving that outcome is to identify the information sharing practices that presently occur, the reasons why these practices are being followed, and how they compare with the information that could be shared and utilized for traceability purposes so as to gain a competitive advantage.

“This is a great way for the Ontario veal industry to work with our supply chain partners to proactively explore opportunities to address traceability issues while improving our profitability,” stated OVA President Judy Dirksen.

The Traceability Foundations Initiative is a federal-provincial cost-shared initiative. The federal funding investment is made through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund. The Ontario Veal Association proudly represents Ontario’s grain-fed and milk-fed veal farmers.

For more information please contact:
Jennifer Bullock, Project Manager

Tel: (519) 824-2942