Pavilion Enters the Black

After five months on the job it looks like the Williamson County Pavilion is operating in the black after years of red ink.

Forget about fancy accounting, for our board members the bottom line has always been the balance in the operating account of the Williamson County Events Commission which oversees the Pavilion.

Ever since the building opened in August 2004, the amount in that checking account has gone down as operating expenses exceeded operating income every year.

On Nov. 15, 2006, when I started as tourism director, the balance for the Events Commission’s Operating Account stood at $87,056.79. Five months later on April 15, 2007, our balance totaled $94,421.39 and that didn’t include a large deposited following the DragonsCage event on April 14.

A lot of the growth from this year compared with last year’s is due to interim Director Jeanette’s action last fall repealing my predecessor's unilateral decision to block all but one caterer from working the Pavilion.

We’ve also been more aggressive in negotiating rates where we know we have competition. The other major factor is the additional media coverage we’ve been generating with the additional events.

More and more area residents are finally waking up to the idea that the Pavilion actually exists. It's also helping that our lodging operators are providing more referrals to us.

The Southern Illinoisan's story on our accomplishments ran Sunday.

Little Egypt Arts to Host Quilt Display

The volunteers at the Little Egypt Arts Centre are installing a new quilt and fiber arts exhibit today just in time for the big quilt show in Paducah next week.

"The Art of Quilting" is a new exhibit at the Centre runs from April 21 through June 15. Works include heirloom quilts as well as photographs and paintings that celebrate quiltying. Current works by artist Colleen Thompson and other LEAA members will be displayed in the gallery and in the windows.

The arts centre is usually open between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., but will stay open to 7 p.m. next Thursday and Friday.

Here's the information on the 23rd Annual American Quilters Society Quilt show in Paducah which will bring hundreds of guests to the motels in Williamson County:
Paducah, Kentucky, becomes Quilt City USA® each April as thousands of quilters from around the world come to view hundreds of quilts in the AQS Quilt Contest. New for 2007 in the AQS School of Quiltmaking: Classes begin on Tuesday, the day before the show opens! Hands-on longarm classes will be included in the 135 classes offered this year. See page 18 for information on earning college credit from classes taken at AQS Quilt Shows.

And, don't miss these special events: An Evening with Jim Shore on Wednesday; MAQS Quilt Auction on Thursday; AQS/Hobbs Bonded Fibers Fashion Show on Friday (NEW DAY); A Musical Encore by Ricky Tims on Friday evening, sponsored by Ken's Sewing Center; Brunch with Ami Simms on Saturday; and the NEW Show & Tell, sponsored by Handi Quilter, on Saturday. Check out these ongoing special events too: Build Quilts for Love sponsored by Baby Lock USA, and the Paducah Booth Hop sponsored by Windham Fabrics.

Shop the Merchant Malls: Visit over 300 vendor booths featuring the latest quiltmaking supplies, gifts, and antique and new quilts. Vendors are located in six different areas - so be sure to visit all of these areas: Paducah Expo Center, 1st and 2nd floors of the Convention Center, Pool Atrium, and Pool Annex at the Expo Center/Executive Inn complex; and at the AQS Vendors on Kentucky (2nd & Kentucky Ave.), where you'll find the Hurt Books Sale.

For more information check out their website .

Sahara Woods, 'It's Unbelieable'

The Southern's Les Winkler provides an update in today's paper on what's next for Sahara Woods.
The roughly 4,200 acres that comprise Sahara Woods were given to the state by Sahara Coal several years ago. At that time, opening the site to the public was a distant dream - a dream now reaching fruition.

When the state took ownership of the land there were huge gob piles and rusted out hulks of trucks and draglines littering the area. Although the restoration of the park is almost complete, no firm date for opening has been established.

"Everything is up in the air," [Site Supt. Eric] McClusky said. "Right now, we have no running water or electricity anywhere in the place. We are scheduled to start renovations on the office this summer."

Other plans include the rifle range (already built), boat ramps and eventually a campground.

Crossposted also at the Sahara Woods blog.

Forage and beef website zeroes in on climate change

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A website originally created as a “living library” of research and extension information for beef and forage producers has taken a turn for the greener.

The website,, now contains a great deal of material on climate change among the regular features and helpful tidbits it has always offered cattle producers.

Many see the addition of a “green” component as a natural fit for the website. There are clear links between agriculture and the environment, which are particularly strong in the forage and beef sectors.

Information has been developed into two new modules found on the site, entitled “Climate Change–Beef” and “Climate Change–Forage.” Both modules provide readers with a summary of data in the form of “Knowledge Nuggets,” as well as fact sheets and scientific papers outlining research done on the forage and beef industry as it relates to greenhouse gas emissions.

Attention to environmental issues is growing, and offers some interesting facts and useful advice to farmers in this area. For example, feeding better quality diets that include legumes rather than grasses will not only reduce the amount of feed required per animal, but also reduce the methane those animals produce and release in the digestion process. The result is a more efficient feeding regime that lowers the producer’s maintenance costs per animal, but is also friendlier to the environment.

“New topics are placed on the website all the time,” said Al Foster, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF). “It’s one that producers should have bookmarked. They’ll find it to be a good summary of information on a number of forage and beef related topics.”

The website has been developed by several supporting partners, including the Alberta Beef Producers, the Canada Alberta Beef Research Centre, the Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund, AgricultureAlberta, SAF, Manitoba Agriculture, and the Matching Investment Initiatives Fund of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

The construction of took several years and involved over 50 AAFC research scientists, university researchers, and provincial forage and beef cattle extension specialists from across Canada. The group came together with the goal of bringing agricultural research closer to Canadian farmers. Their efforts have not gone unrewarded, netting them a major national AAFC award.

Foster says the wealth of knowledge, dedication, and hard work put into this project has paid off.

“The website provides producers with one stop for forage and beef information. It also includes updated news topics and announcements of things happening in the agricultural sector in and around Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba,” he noted.

“It’s important for Saskatchewan producers to view these updates regularly.”

Foster says producers will find the website has many valuable features. “A user-friendly internal search engine allows for quick and easy access to the wide variety of information on the site. As well, information is summarized in a logical outline and is easy to follow,” he explained.

“New topics and recent research papers from the majority of Canadian forage and beef cattle research scientists are being added all the time, so is always a quick reference for subjects that producers are interested in.”

For more information, contact:
Al Foster, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 878-8890

Non-bloating legumes reduce risk in alfalfa/grass pastures

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

When seeding cultivated land to perennial forage for pasture, producers are sometimes reluctant to include alfalfa in the seed mix because of the risk of bloat.

However, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Forage Development Specialist Lorne Klein, there are some non-bloating legumes such as sainfoin and cicer milkvetch that can help producers deal with that risk.

“The advantage of including alfalfa with grass is the opportunity to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer on your pasture,” said Klein. “Studies have shown that alfalfa/grass combinations without nitrogen fertilizer will produce forage yields equal to pure grass stands receiving 35 to 150 pounds per acre of nitrogen fertilizer.”

The good news is that producers can get the lion’s share of the legume advantage even if they just have 40 per cent alfalfa in their pasture stand. They don’t need to graze the full 100 per cent alfalfa.

One strategy to reduce the risk of bloat is to include non-bloating legumes in the seed mix, along with alfalfa and grass.

Sainfoin is a relatively early growing legume, and is suggested for pastures where early season grazing is planned. A suggested seeding rate for a pasture mix is 10 pounds per acre sainfoin, one pound per acre alfalfa, and four to seven pounds per acre grass.

“The nitrogen fixing capability of sainfoin is not well known, so alfalfa in the mix is still recommended for that purpose,” said Klein. “The sainfoin will reduce bloat risk, as long as it is consumed with the alfalfa.”

Cicer milkvetch is a legume that is slow to start growth in spring, and retains its leaves into late summer and fall. It is therefore better suited for summer and fall grazing.

A suggested seeding rate for a pasture mix is three pounds per acre cicer milkvetch, one pound per acre alfalfa, and four to seven pounds per acre grass.

“Cicer milkvetch may take three to four years to become established, so the alfalfa is recommended to provide a legume during the first two to three years,” Klein noted.

In the spring of 2005, 10 producers throughout Saskatchewan seeded demonstration fields that included sainfoin and cicer milkvetch. These fields were monitored for establishment, and will be followed as the producers use them for grazing. Observations will be used for future recommendations.

For a list of where the demonstration fields are located, please contact Lorne Klein at (306) 848-2382.

For more information, contact:
Lorne Klein, Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 848-2382

Value-added processing provides key for rural renewal

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The latest census data from Statistics Canada has provided more fuel for the debate about rural revitalization.

While the numbers showed that the overall trend towards urbanization continues, an expert in rural population with the agency says it has little to do with the amount of money flowing through the rural economy.

Statistics Canada Research Economist Ray Bollman’s recent report, entitled “Factors Driving Canada’s Rural Economy,” found that the three fundamental drivers for rural Canada are technology, prices, and demography. His conclusions provide some food for thought for those who believe that rural revitalization is linked to the price of agricultural commodities.

Bollman says commodity industries like agriculture are not likely to be big drivers of rural population increases if the benchmark for success is job growth or population growth.

“The price of machinery is going down relative to the price of labour to do a unit of work, whether that is to make a bale of hay, produce a litre of milk, or cultivate an acre of land. So there is always an incentive there to substitute machines for workers,” he said.

“Communities that are intensive in commodities should work towards finding something extra or something new to export, to stabilize their work force, because you need fewer and fewer people to simply produce commodities,” said Bollman.

That thought runs counter to those who suggest a more profitable farm economy would result in more rural population. Bollman says more money flowing through a rural economy is not the solution.

“If commodity prices go up, you do not get more workers in communities. If the objective is workers or people, then the change in commodity prices will not have a big impact. I think you might even predict that people would buy bigger machines and you would need even fewer workers,” he explained.

Bollman says adding a manufacturing base or value-added processing is one approach that might more effectively create jobs.

“If you think about a successful rural community 20 years from now, it will likely have a manufacturing base. Successful communities will be those that find a new product or service to export in order to maintain their employment base,” he said.

Bollman’s report concludes that the falling price of transporting goods will make rural Canada more competitive when it comes to attracting manufacturing and processing. When transportation costs drop, opportunities arise to create jobs in these areas, and jobs create population growth.

That may sound like an overly simple solution, and Bollman admits that may not be the answer for all communities. But he contends that communities that choose to grow will find their way.

“I don’t think rural depopulation is inevitable, because no matter how you classify groups of communities or sizes of communities or the major commodity being shipped in the community, there are always some that are growing and some that are declining,” he stated.

“It’s not inevitable. There is always some community that, through good luck or good management, is able to grow.”

Bollman’s report, “Factors Driving Canada’s Rural Economy,” is available through Statistics Canada’s website at

For more information, contact:
Ray Bollman, Research Economist
Statistics Canada
Phone: (613) 951-3747

Western Canadian Livestock Expo returns to Saskatoon

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A prime opportunity is right around the corner for dairy and pork producers to see the latest equipment and products available to help them advance their operations.

The 2007 Western Canadian Livestock Expo will continue to showcase the most recent developments in technology and genetics for both the dairy and pork industries.

The show is being held April 25 and 26 at the Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. It’s organized by the Prairieland Park Corporation, and co-sponsored by Sask Pork and Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

Troy Donauer, a Livestock Development Specialist with SAF, says this year’s Expo provides trade show exhibitors, producers, and patrons with expanded marketing and networking opportunities.

“We’ve done a number of things to try and make the show better. We’re offering a free ‘Farmyard Lunch’ from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on April 25 for all the exhibitors and the people attending to mix and mingle. It’s a good networking opportunity for all involved,” he said.

“The show is also a great opportunity for producers to meet and talk with one another, to see what’s working in each other’s operations, converse over a coffee, learn what’s going on in the industry, and hear the latest scuttlebutt.”

Donauer says the trade show portion of the Expo is the place where those in the dairy and pork industry get to see the latest technology and equipment to make their operations more efficient, such as the latest electronic feeding systems.

For exhibitors such as feed companies or equipment manufacturers, it gives them a chance to spread their products around, touch different markets, and gain the exposure they need to be successful. “They get to be seen by a pretty big audience with one appearance,” he stated.

Another important part of the Expo is the educational component. School tours are being organized for grade five students to learn about various aspects of “Milk and Pork Production.” Tour guides host the students, and qualified resource people conduct 15-minute presentations at five stations discussing the processing of milk and milk products, the milking parlour, the dairy cow’s diet, nutritional aspects of dairy production, and pork production today.

“Last year, the Expo was scheduled over the Easter school break, and the school tours were really missed by everyone,” Donauer said. “The tours are going to resume again this year, which we’re all happy about.”

Education will be a key focus for producers and industry stakeholders, as well. Three training seminars – a low-stress pig handling workshop, a Trucker Quality Assurance certification course for hog haulers and transporters, and an animal care assessment tool information session – will be offered over the course of the two days, with leading industry experts on hand to conduct presentations.

While there is a $75 registration fee for the pig handling workshop, the other two seminars are offered at no cost to participants.

The public may also be interested in taking in the various livestock shows and sales occurring throughout the event, involving dairy cattle in several different categories.

Public admittance to the 2007 Western Canadian Livestock Expo is free of charge.

For more information on the events surrounding the Expo, including how to book school tours for grade five classes, visit the Prairieland Park website at, or call toll free 1-888-931-9333.

For more information, contact:
Troy Donauer, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 933-5096

Intervac gets green light with funding injection

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A $24.7 million injection from the provincial government means the final piece of the puzzle is now in place for the University of Saskatchewan’s International Vaccine Centre, or InterVac, to move forward.

“It was the final stage of funding required to give the construction phase of the project a go,” said Paul Hodgson, the Associate Director of Business Development for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), which is the primary collaborator in InterVac.

“For the future of InterVac, that amount of funding means it will actually go ahead. So it was absolutely ideal, and it’s what we needed to construct the facility.”

The total infrastructure cost for the project is estimated to be around $110 million.

InterVac is a state-of-the-art research and development centre that will develop vaccines to protect people and animals from the threat of emerging or persistent diseases such as avian influenza or tuberculosis. It will be the first Level 3 biosafety facility in Western Canada dealing with both human and large animal diseases.

“The biosafety rating refers to a different level of containment and security, because you don’t want to put your food supply at risk or anything like that,” explained Hodgson. “So our Level 3 rating means the facility will be extremely secure. We would potentially be able to look at things like HIV, for example, which is considered a Level 3 pathogen.”

What sets InterVac apart from similar facilities is its ability to incorporate large animals into its vaccine research and development. “We have the ability to work with agricultural pathogens or disease-causing organisms, but we can work with human pathogens to see if we have a model that is appropriate,” he said.

“So it’s important for the agricultural sector, and it’s important for the medical sector. This facility, and our work here, will be unique in the world.”

Hodgon noted that a lot of medical research used to be done on mice and rats. This posed some challenges, since discoveries made in mice and rats don’t always translate well into human health due to the vastly different physiologies, immune systems, living environments and diets between the two species. Nor do studies on rodents necessarily work well for larger animals like cattle and swine.

“As you move up the species chain into larger animals, the actual research becomes a bit more applicable to human diseases,” he said, noting that several more recent medical breakthroughs for people have been made using pigs for research.

In addition, illnesses like avian influenza are typical of many emerging diseases, in that they are directly linked to animals, but are now affecting human beings. Hodgson says this involves a field of research for which InterVac is perfectly positioned.

But the tremendous potential the facility holds is also relevant to the average agricultural producer. Hodgson emphasizes that the InterVac team’s relationship with farmers is always foremost in their minds.

“Ultimately, we hope InterVac is going to provide a competitive advantage for the Canadian agricultural industry, to reduce the farmer’s cost of production by developing vaccines of agricultural importance,” he said.

“So we’re looking at diseases of animals that are relevant in this day and age, and how our research can help combat them. Ultimately, we’re trying to help the producers reduce their costs and the mortality rates of their animals, and therefore increase their profits.”

Construction on the InterVac facility is expected to start this year. It is projected that the very detailed process of ensuring it meets Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards will take close to three years.

When all is said and done, Hodgson says Saskatchewan’s position as a global leader in infectious disease research, and biosecurity and research innovation will only be strengthened.

“InterVac, combined with VIDO and other institutes at the university like the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron, put us squarely in the forefront in these areas.”

For more information, contact:
Paul Hodgson, Associate Director, Business Development
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization
Phone: (306) 966-1523

Agriculture development fund seeking letters of intent

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF) is currently seeking letters of intent from those interested in obtaining research funding under the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF).

The projects for this year may be just a twinkle in the eye of a researcher – but if past results are any indication, the research supported by the ADF will have a profound impact on the Saskatchewan agricultural industry.

“The Agriculture Development Fund provides project funding for researchers to address issues of importance to the agriculture industry,” said SAF Manager of Research and Development Bill Greuel.

“The ADF has tried over the past 20 years to add value to agriculture. We do that by providing funding to researchers who are looking at everything from variety development or animal genetics to value-added processing and new bio-products.”

Greuel says the fund supports a broad spectrum of projects.

“We try to target research that goes from variety development, at the very root of agricultural innovation in the province, through to the development of innovative new products and processes that can develop new products, make advancements in bio-energy, and create new ways to add value to agriculture,” he said.

Many initiatives have been funded over the years, but the driving force has always been improving the bottom line for the agricultural industry.

“We look at what can increase returns to a producer. That might be through decreased production risks, new methods of crop production, or better varieties. We look at higher value for processors. That might involve new products developed from agricultural commodities. We also look at the benefits to consumers of the agricultural commodities we produce here in Saskatchewan,” Greuel stated.

“So we are trying to increase the value of the agricultural industry at all levels, from producers to processors to consumers.”

That impact can be quantified. Greuel noted that a number of studies have looked at the economic return of agricultural research. A recent report focusing on funding for variety development found that every dollar invested in the area returned $3.43 in value back to the industry.

The ADF is open to both public and private research firms. “We fund work at the U of S, the U of R, Agriculture and Agri-FoodCanada, the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, the Prairie Swine Centre, and private companies,” Greuel said. “We’ve got research going on with just about anybody who can add value to the industry.”

The fund will consider proposals related to any aspect of agricultural production, but specific emphasis is being placed on research which will lead to:

* improved food quality and safety;
* new and innovative food and other bioproducts and bioprocessing technologies;
* optimized livestock feeding systems;
* increased competitiveness in livestock production;
* decreased agricultural production risks;
* new crop varieties to meet market demand and consumer preferences; and
* integrated and comprehensive farming systems and practices that enhance or maintain the agro-ecosystem’s capacity and the integrity of the provincial land and soil resource.

ADF letters of intent will be accepted until April 15. Successful applicants will then be asked to submit a full proposal before September 1.

Letter of intent forms are available online at, or through the links on the SAF website at

Applicants are asked to follow the online instructions. If problems or questions arise, please call (306) 787-5929, or e-mail

For more information, contact:
Bill Greuel, Manager of Research and Development
Phone: (306) 787-9768

Outreach project attracting producers to Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

What started out as coffee shop talk grew into a co-ordinated – and rather successful – effort to sell farm families from outside the province on the benefits of relocating to east central Saskatchewan.

The innovative “Last Cattle Frontier” (LCF) project recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of holding seminars and conducting presentations on the merits of farming in the province.

Naomi Paley, a livestock development specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), remembers well the early beginnings of the initiative back in 2002.

“The initial plan of action was to attract Alberta> ranchers to east central Saskatchewan,” she said. “It all began with a small group of individuals traveling in vans to Red Deer to conduct a seminar for cattle producers in the area.”

Paley says that representatives of SAF, Ducks Unlimited, local rural municipalities and area farmers comprised the original group that headed west, although there was a great deal of support for the concept back home.

Over the years, the LCF has conducted 11 seminars and made presentations to over 200 producers. The outreach is geared toward cattle producers thinking of expanding or relocating their operations. Its goal is to promote the benefits of beef farming in east central Saskatchewan, to leave all attendees with good information, and to establish contacts for them throughout the region.

“In many areas of Alberta and other jurisdictions, there’s a lack of available land, and what is available can be rather costly. Some regions have also struggled through some pretty dry years that have really impacted area ranchers,” Paley said.

“We want to impress on them that they can find good land that is well-suited to cattle production in east central Saskatchewan, and it’s probably quite reasonably priced compared to what they’re used to.”

An important part of the outreach is a testimonial by local producers who moved to Saskatchewan from elsewhere. They provide an overview of their experiences relocating to the east central region, enabling those who are contemplating such a move to hear from others who have successfully made the transition.

The area has not only attracted Alberta cattle producers but also producers from British Columbia and even the United Kingdom. “When it comes to marketing Saskatchewan beyond the borders of Alberta, word-of-mouth has been one of our best tools,” said Paley. “When producers come looking for land on which to relocate their ranching operations, Saskatchewanis one of the first places they look. We’ve had producers from all over Western Canada come through here, many of them saying ‘We’ve always heard about Saskatchewan, so we’ve come to check it out.’”

Paley says that attendance at the seminars ranges from “first time lookers” to ranchers who have already been checking into the potential of moving or establishing their livestock operations in Saskatchewan. The audiences have consisted of people of all ages – families with young children, couples ready to retire, and everyone in between.

“The families attending these seminars may not make a decision to move right then and there, but the information gets delivered and the seed is planted,” she noted.

While it’s impossible to attribute all the positive activity to the LCF project, a recent phone survey of rural municipalities in the east central region showed that, over the past seven years, approximately 150 farm families have moved into the area from out of province. Most of these families have been younger farmers, many with young children, who have delivered a welcome boost to the region in terms of increasing the rural population and economy, as well as bringing in new ideas and vitality.

“The LCF project tries to make this incredible decision and transition as easy as possible for farm families by providing them soil maps, aerial photography, pasture assessments, information on schools, hospitals and recreation, and anything else they might require,” Paley stated.

The key to it all, she says, is having a lot of supportive partners involved in the project. Today, the LCF initiative has grown to encompass four Regional Economic Development Authorities, SAF, Ducks Unlimited, the City of Yorkton, and the City of Melville as full project partners.

Numerous other businesses and agencies from all across the region have contributed tremendous financial and marketing support. Real estate companies, the media, local producers, area residents and municipalities have been key allies.

“I think anyone associated with the initiative would tell you that its success has been because of the partners involved and their willingness to share and think from a regional perspective instead of an individual one,” Paley said. “It’s also due to the open-mindedness and big picture view of the benefits that a project like this can have.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Last Cattle Frontier initiative can visit the project’s website at or call 1-866-800-2676.

For more information, contact:
Naomi Paley, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 786-1686

Additional opportunity for funding through CARDS program

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Groups seeking funding from the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development in Saskatchewan (CARDS) program have until April 23 to submit their applications to the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD).

The CARDS program is an initiative to foster the increased long-term growth, employment and competitiveness of Canada’s agricultural and agri-food industry. The program is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and administered in Saskatchewan by the SCCD.

The organization’s Executive Director Laurie Dmytryshyn says that, while the program is winding up, some money remains available for new applicants.

“A few of our completed projects are coming in below budget,” Dmytryshyn said. “Because of this under-spending, we now have residual funds available for new project applications.”

Since 1995, the CARDS program has provided over $20 million to more than 900 projects in Saskatchewan, assisting them in leveraging over $46 million in total funding. The program includes five areas: Industry and Rural Resource Development, Business Development Activities, Capital Equipment Purchases, Value-Added Development, and Environmental Stewardship.

Dmytryshyn says the Industry and Rural Resource Development area was designed to enhance and strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector through funding for resource development.

“We funded quite a few conferences, workshops, and information packages,” she said. “An excellent example of a project assisted under this category is the partial CARDS funding provided for the display at the Pork Interpretive Centre.”

The program has different criteria targeted to for-profit and non-profit projects.

“If it’s a for-profit organization, we’ll provide a grant in the amount of 50 per cent of the eligible cash costs,” Dmytryshyn said. “If it’s a non-profit organization, we can fund up to 70 per cent. This is where a lot of our commodity associations or food processing groups might fit.”

Another very active area has been Business Development Activities.

“This program area was designed to develop, commercialize, and market new value-added agricultural products and processes in the province,” Dmytryshyn stated. “It will fund market assessments and development, feasibility studies, business plans, prototype development and related activities.”

Dmytryshyn notes that projects applying in the Capital Equipment Purchase category must involve the adoption of technology that is new to the province. An applicant may receive up to 10 per cent of the purchase cost for the new equipment.

Projects in the Value-Added Development category tend to be initiatives launched by industry associations. “The intent of this category is to assist industry in expanding value-added initiatives in processing, and marketing,” she said.

The final category, Environmental Stewardship, aims to increase understanding and support the development of environmentally friendly practices.

While this will be the final round of funding under CARDS, SCCD continues to operate the CARDS program’s successor, the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) initiative. The next deadline for ACAAFS applications is April 16. Details on both programs, along with application forms, are available at

For more information, contact:

Laurie Dmytryshyn, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Council for Community Development
Phone: (306) 975-6849

For Saskatoon growers, proper pruning means best bushes

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatoon growers, from the casual backyard gardener to the commercial orchard operator, will want to attend the upcoming saskatoon pruning workshop organized by the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association (SFGA).

The workshop will take place on April 23 at 1:30 p.m. It is being held at Prairie Dome Strawberries and Saskatoons, located 10 kilometres south of Yorkton on Highway #9.

Tonia Vermette, the owner and operator of Prairie Dome, says the seminar will offer a lot of good information to growers. “Pruning techniques are very important in a sasktoon crop, because saskatoons want to be a tree, they don’t want to be a shrub. You have to encourage them otherwise, or else when they get to be about 10 years old, you won’t be able to reach the berries from the ground anymore,” she said.

“Saskatoons only bear on one-year-old wood, and they just grow from the tip. As a result, you want many stems coming from the ground, and you want to keep the plants rejuvenating so that a nice shrub forms and stays that way for 30 years.”

The workshop is being conducted by Clarence Peters, a provincial specialist for fruit crops with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF). “Clarence is the saskatoon specialist in the province,” Vermette noted. “He’s done a lot of research into pruning techniques that make the bushes grow like you want them to.”

Proper pruning of saskatoons will deliver considerable benefits for both large and small growers. For one, it protects the bushes from disease and ensures that infected branches are correctly removed to prevent the disease from spreading.

Pruning also maximizes and stabilizes yields from year to year. “Saskatoons are a biennial crop. You tend to have a really big crop one year, and then a fairly small one the next year,” Vermette said.

“Of course, a lot depends on bloom and weather and pollination, too, but pruning encourages a stable amount of fruit every year. You’re going to try to get the bush to do what you want it to, and that is to produce more consistently.”

It can also make the saskatoons more suitable to harvesting with a mechanical harvester, a device with long metal fingers that protrude into the bushes to shake the berries free.

“Proper pruning will ensure the bushes are shaped so that there’s as little damage as possible to the plant during this process,” Vermette stated.

Registration for the afternoon-long session is $25 per operation, meaning that the single fee will cover multiple delegates wishing to attend from the same farm. Payments can be made at the door.

All registration fees collected from the workshop will be used by the SFGA to fund research and other projects being undertaken to enhance the development of saskatoons and other prairie fruits.

To register or obtain more information on the session, please contact Prairie Dome Strawberries and Saskatoons at (306) 782-7297, visit the operation’s website at, or visit the SFGA website at

For more information, contact:

Tonia Vermette
Prairie Dome Strawberries and Saskatoons
Phone: (306) 782-7297

Trail of Tears Spring Meeting Set for April 14

The Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will hold its spring general membership meeting at Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church near Anna on Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m.

The gathering will kick off the Illinois Trail of Tears Oral History Project and all persons interested in the trail or that might have family stories or information relative to the trail are encouraged to attend.

The meeting will be an informal gathering where those with stories or information relative to their families and the Trail of Tears are invited to share them. Videotaping and audiotaping services will be available to record those stories. Individuals with stories to share may do so in front of a gathered audience, or privately in a small room if they prefer.

Also, everyone is asked to bring family diaries, newspaper clippings, photos, drawings, maps, documents and any other papers they may have relative to the Trail of Tears. Copying and scanning equipment will be available so that copies of these items may be added to the Illinois Trail of Tears Oral History Project and individuals can then take their original photos and papers safely back home with them.

Also, Harvey Henson of the SIU Geology Department along with some of his students will be demonstrating and explaining remote sensing techniques at the Camp Ground Church Cemetery.

The public is invited to the meeting. For more information e-mail Sandra Boaz at or call her at 618-833-8216, or Cheryl Jett at or by phone at 618-567-6895.

To reach Camp Ground Church take I-57 south to Exit 30. Turn west on Route 146. Almost immediately (200 feet) turn back north on Campground Rd. The church and cemetery is at the intersection of Campground Road and Tunnel Lane.

For more information on the Trail of Tears Association check out their website.

2007 Saskatchewan pasture school likely to fill quickly

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Producers considering attendance at the 2007 Saskatchewan Pasture School should make their decision quickly. The fifth annual event, organized by the Saskatchewan Forage Council, will take place June 13 and 14 in Saskatoon.

“It’s geared towards producers and grazing managers,” said Janice Bruynooghe, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Forage Council. “This forum allows them to gain practical knowledge and expand their management skills through a combination of seminars, hands-on exercises, and pasture tours.”

Attendance at the Pasture School is limited to 50 participants.

“At least 50 per cent of our time is spent in the field on pasture tours,” said Bruynooghe. “We try to keep our numbers small, because when we’re in the field, we like to have enough resource people so that we can break up in small groups and have lots of one-on-one interaction.”

This year’s agenda includes sessions on Calculating Stocking Rates, Matching Grazing Animal Requirements to Forage Quality, Herd Health Concerns on Pasture, and a Producer’s Perspective on Grazing Legumes.

According to Bruynooghe, the school is very interactive.

“We start at the basic level of discussing how grass grows, as well as some of the basic management principles. Then we put pencil to paper in practical exercises. Next, we hop on the bus and get out to do a bunch of pasture tours,” she said.

“We encourage people to get on their hands and knees and do things like plant identification, and to ask lots of questions about how the things they’re seeing pertain to their own operations.”

Through social events, producer presentations, and panel discussion, the Pasture School also provides plenty of opportunity to exchange views.

“The other important learning that goes on is the peer to peer interaction,” Bruynooghe said. “Talking to your neighbour or someone who has a grazing operation in another part of the province, you learn about things that have worked for other producers.”

The 2007 Saskatchewan Pasture School will be held at the Best Western Inn and Suites in Saskatoon. Registration is $132.50 for the first registrant and $106 for any additional registrants from the same operation. The fees are pre-approved for Canadian Agricultural Skills Service eligibility.

The agenda and registration form are available online at

The Pasture School is a joint project of the Saskatchewan Forage Council, the Western Beef Development Centre, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, Ducks Unlimited, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration.

For more information, contact:
Janice Bruynooghe, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Forage Council
Phone: (306) 966-2148

Anthrax risk still exists for 2007

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Saskatchewan producers are not out of the woods yet when it comes to the anthrax threat.

Last summer, the province experienced its largest outbreak of anthrax ever. The cases mostly occurred in the northeast part of the province, but other areas were not immune.

Authorities are warning that the risk of livestock contracting anthrax this summer has not disappeared. In fact, three cases have already developed in February 2007.

“Anthrax is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act. All suspected cases must be reported to a CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) veterinarian,” said Tracy Evans, a Livestock Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

Three types of anthrax exist: inhalation (breathing in spores), cutaneous (contact with skin), and gastrointestinal (through digestion), which is the most common form in livestock.

Anthrax is considered to be an “environmental” disease, meaning that it is contracted through animals ingesting anthrax spores from the environment, such as soil, water, and forage, and not from other animals.

The anthrax spores enter the animal’s blood stream, causing a rapidly fatal blood infection. When the infected animal dies and the bacilli are exposed to oxygen, more spores are produced and enter the environment.

Due to the hardiness of the anthrax spores to climate and the environment, decades may pass without other cases showing up. Anthrax outbreaks can then occur when the spores are brought to the soil surface by digging or flooding.

The livestock producer’s best defence is to vaccinate. The vaccine is economical and is available from your local veterinarian. Protection occurs seven to 21 days after delivery, and is estimated to be effective for six to 12 months.

“Your veterinarian may or may not recommend a booster shot depending on herd history and the prevalence of anthrax in your area,” Evans noted.

Vaccinated animals cannot be treated with antibiotics within eight days before or after administering the vaccine, as it will inactivate the vaccine. Withdrawal time for slaughter is 42 days after the last dose was administered.

Care in handling the vaccine is important to the success of the vaccine. As per label recommendations, it must be stored between two and seven degrees Celsius, shaken well before use, and not used in conjunction with antibiotics or disinfectants used to sterilize equipment.

Vaccinating for anthrax can be done at the same time as inoculating for blackleg, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine virus diarrhoea (BVD), parainfluenza-3 (PI3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV).

Anthrax does not discriminate by age. Therefore, calves, replacement heifers, yearlings, cows and bulls should all be vaccinated. This vaccine does not pass along passive immunity to an unborn calf, as do some other MLV (modified live vaccines). The minimum age for vaccination is eight weeks, and optimal is four to six months.

“CFIA recommends that if you are within 10 kilometres of a positive premise, meaning a quarter of land where a positive case was diagnosed, you should vaccinate,” Evans said.

“Given the size of last year’s outbreak, and the comparable environmental conditions between now and then, there is some concern we could see a similar scenario in 2007. Local veterinarians can provide producers with the recommendations for their areas.”

A map highlighting the location of anthrax outbreaks in Saskatchewan in 2006 and 2007 can be found on the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan website at

Additional information on anthrax can be also obtained from SAF, CFIA, Saskatchewan Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and your local veterinarian.

For more information, contact:
Tracy Evans, Livestock Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 878-8847

Dr. Mary VanderKop DVM, Disease Surveillance Veterinarian
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-8661

Biofuels opportunities program gets funding boost

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The federal government has committed an additional $10 million in funding to support projects under the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI).

Of that amount, $3 million is allocated to projects already submitted for the 2006-07 fiscal year, due to higher than anticipated demand. The other $7 million is now in place for projects submitted during the upcoming 2007-08 fiscal year.

The BOPI program is intended to help reach the national government’s goal of five per cent renewable fuel content in transport fuel by 2010. Its specific objective is to help agricultural producers in the development of sound and well-documented business plans for projects that have significant producer ownership, which is defined as greater than one-third under the eligibility requirements.

The program is delivered in Saskatchewan by the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development (SCCD). The group’s Communications Manager Dallas Carpenter says the intent is to get producers involved as owners of the value chain.

“The real key here is that the program is aiming to get more producers involved in the production facilities, so that the producers are not just providing feedstock, but they’re actually sharing in the benefits of the end product,” said Carpenter.

For the purposes of the program, agricultural producers are defined as individuals, corporations, partnerships, co-operatives or other associations engaged in commercial agricultural production, with at least $10,000 in annual gross farm sales.

Funding can be used for four areas of activity: 1) hiring technical, financial, and business planning advisers to assist in developing business proposals that create or expand biofuels production capacity; 2) undertaking feasibility studies and other studies required to support business proposals; 3) investigating the pre-commercialization of biofuels-related research; and 4) gathering information to help determine opportunities and provide necessary input to generate industry involvement. Priority will be given to projects involving the first two areas.

Approved projects may receive up to $300,000 in funding, with at least 25 per cent of the project cost being invested as cash by the initiators of the project.

Carpenter says that projects submitted in Saskatchewan will be adjudicated by the SCCD board of directors, but their recommendation is not a guarantee of funding.

“It will all depend on where the greater demand is,” said Carpenter. “If our board receives a project, it will not mean that it will necessarily be allocated funding – that will be up to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.”

The closing date for BOPI project applications is June 22, 2007. They will be forwarded to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in September.

“We really want to emphasize the June 22 deadline, and stress that if there’s greater demand in Saskatchewan, there could be more of that funding coming here,” said Carpenter. “We want to strongly encourage any of the producer groups who are interested to get their applications in.”

More information on the BOPI program, its criteria and the application process is available from the SCCD at 1-800-641-8256, or online at

For more information, contact:
Dallas Carpenter, Communications Officer
Saskatchewan Council for Community Development Inc.
Phone: (306) 975-6856

Pesticide stewardship program returns to Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

A program to collect and safely dispose of unwanted and obsolete agricultural pesticides will return to Saskatchewan in 2007. Collection dates are planned for October 23 to 25.

According to Wayne Gosselin in Environmental Policy with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, the last province-wide sweep of Saskatchewan occurred in three phases in 1999, 2000 and 2001. More than 156,000 kilograms of obsolete pesticides were collected.

The program was run as a joint initiative involving the federal government, the provincial government, and industry. “We all quite enjoyed the program,” Gosselin said. “Everybody found their place and pitched in, and the effort delivered terrific benefits. People were bringing stuff out that was 20 years old.”

This year, the program will be run as a three-day province-wide blitz, again involving government and industry stakeholders. Agricultural producers will be able to dispose of outdated, unusable and/or no longer registered agricultural crop protection products.

“We’re expecting that another 100 to 150 tonnes of pesticide could come out again,” Gosselin said.

Crop protection products destined for disposal will be accepted at designated certified Agrichemical Warehouse Standards Association collection sites throughout Saskatchewan. “I expect there will be around 50 collection points, with the idea being that most areas of the province would be somewhere within 50 kilometres or so of a drop-off site,” Gosselin said.

The pesticides collected will then be disposed of at environmentally safe facilities approved by Saskatchewan Environment.

CropLife Canada is the industry umbrella group that represents the manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products. Under its mandate of “working responsibly to protect people and the environment,” it is cost-sharing the initiative with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada so that it can be delivered at no cost to producers.

“We are pleased to be part of a program that provides farmers with a safe, effective and cost-free way to properly dispose of unwanted products,” CropLife Canada Vice President of Stewardship Cam Davreux said.

“This program is a great example of how government, grower organizations and industry can work co-operatively towards a better environment.”

Unwanted and obsolete agricultural herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides will be collected at the drop-off sites, but other products such as antifreeze, solvents, paints, and treated seed will not be accepted.

Details of the program, including a list of collection sites, will be publicized through an extensive advertising and direct mail campaign closer to the collection dates. Agricultural dealers across the province will be provided with a list of collection sites and additional information to assist farmers in identifying obsolete products. All pesticides will be accepted, including those without valid Canadian Pest Control Act numbers. For safety reasons, however, all containers must be labelled.

“Please make sure containers are leak-free and a pesticide name is written on every container,” Davreux said. “If you no longer know what the pesticide is, label the container ‘pesticide unknown.’”

For more information, ask your farm supply dealer; phone the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:

Wayne Gosselin, Environmental Policy and Strategic Planning
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
Phone: (306) 787-6586

Public Smoking Ban Passes Senate

The Illinois Senate voted 34-23 last week to pass Senate Bill 500, the Smoke Free Illinois Act, which would prohibit smoking in public places such as restaurants.

The bill "prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment, and governmental vehicles," according to the state's synopsis. It also prohibits "smoking within a minimum distance of 15 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited."

Southern Illinois' lawmakers from both parties voted against the measure, which isn't surprising as the region boasts (suffers) from some of the highest adult smoking rates in the state.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives. If it passes and the governor signs the bill, Illinois will become the 16th state in the nation to pass such legislation since New York became the first in 2001.

In case some might wonder why the bill is needed. Here's what the Illinois Department of Public Health says:
More than 20,000 Illinoisans die each year as a result of cigarette smoking. Nationally, smoking is responsible for one of every five deaths. In fact, cigarette smoking kills more Americans than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires combined.

In 2003, 24.3 percent of all adults in Illinois smoked compared to 22.1 percent nationwide. Even scarier was the fact that a 2002 survey showed 29.2 percent of high school students smoked cigarettes.

Motel Revenues Up in February

Motel revenues continued to increase in February for Williamson County's lodging operators.

As of April 2, all but two of the lodging operators had paid their February bed tax by the end of March as required by county ordinance. The county's five percent bed tax took in $42,992.47 so far compared with $40,390.74 last year.

That's up 6.4 percent from year to year. For our fiscal year which begins in July (but includes taxes collection in May), revenues year-to-date this year are up 6.2 percent or more than $42,000 over the same period last year.

Roughly another $2,000 is due from motels delinquent in either their January or February bed tax.

January figures were also up three percent over January 2006.

Checkers Attracts Tourists From 12 States

This past weekend's Illinois State Checkers Tournament drew contestants from at least 12 different states. The Illinois Centre Mall in Marion hosted the event.

The tournament even drew a world champion to play here at the Hub of the Universe.
MARION - Few if any people passing through Illinois Centre Mall this weekend probably realized they were walking by a world champion at work on his craft.

There is little surprise: The world of checkers is much a mystery to the uninitiated, said Gary Ellison, president of the Illinois Checkers Association.

"It's not a spectator sport so a lot of people don't know that much about it," Ellison said.

Alex Moiseyev, the world champion of three-move checkers, participated in the Illinois State Checker Association's state tournament along with 32 other competitive checkers players who were eager to practice their skills against their peers.

Moiseyev says checkers is a wildly popular game at all levels.

Check out the rest of Ashley's story in today's Southern Illinoisan.
Copyright © Tourism News. All Rights Reserved.
Blogger Template designed by Click Bank Engine.