In This Issue:

* Sustainable Grain launches new training in the agronomy and economics of regenerative organics

*GMO wheat back in discussions

*Special crops value chains offer insights for marketing organics

GMO Wheat: What Would it Mean for Organics? 

At a recent farm policy event held in Alberta, there was talk of potentially launching GMO wheat in Canada. There are no signs of organic regulators in Canada or elsewhere moving any closer to accepting GMO seed technology. Likely, if GMO were approved and came into production in Canada, it would introduce confusion, complex new separation and testing requirements, and a greater risk of contamination of GMO in shipments of organic wheat.

Organic canola isn’t much of a thing in western Canada, because of GMO canola’s prevalence, and the larger buffer zones required for certification. It wouldn’t be as hard to produce organic and conventional wheat in the presence of GMO wheat varieties, but it would still be a bigger challenge than it already is to keep GMO content out of organic grain shipments' dockage. 

Talk of GMO wheat in Canada is likely to spark a reaction from the organic sector, and from consumers both domestically and in markets around the world. The last time GMO wheat was contemplated, the Canadian Wheat Board with the support of several multinational grain companies stopped it, claiming markets would be lost as a result. This remains a risk today, as consumer rejection of GMO around the world has only deepened since that time. 

Staying Ahead: Learning to Grow Crops without Chemicals for Modern Consumers

Sustainable Grain is excited to offer a brand new educational opportunity this winter. “AgroEcology and the Economics of Organics” is a course in knowledge-based field crop management for advanced farms and business agronomists. The inaugural event will be held in Winnipeg, February 11-12, 2019. 

Topics covered relate to the business opportunity for conventional farms to move into the organic space, starting with the macro-economic setup for western Canadian acres, which are strategically very well-located to fill the growing gap in North American and global organic food crop demand. Critical to managing the transition and long-term sustainability is the agronomy. 

Sustainable Grain is partnering with Joel Williams of Integrated Soils to deliver the latest knowledge in revitalizing soil biology, soil chemistry and plant management techniques. Joel Williams is an independent plant and soil health educator. Joel studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Australia specialising in plant and soil dynamics and he has a particular interest in managing soil microbial ecology along with crop & soil nutrition to optimise plant immunity, soil function and soil carbon sequestration. More recently he’s been working with both conventional and organic farming systems integrating soil chemical & biological assessments, along with plant nutritional analyses as a joined-up strategy for managing crop production. He has been fortunate enough to educate farming audiences in Australia, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Latvia, South Africa, Kenya, Canada and the US.

Brenda Tjaden has spent her career helping western Canadian farms respond to emerging profit opportunities in growing and marketing their crops. In the process of founding Sustainable Grain, Brenda spent 3 years researching the organic value chain, it’s opportunities and vulnerabilities. She has found and developed solutions for the standard roadblocks that may be encountered by organizations throughout the value chain in converting their businesses from conventional into regenerative organic. She will present the relevant facts around cropping choices, farm restructuring, market dynamics, policies and pricing structures in the organic sector. Sustainable Grain will also provide templates and support for course attendees to develop and execute long-term strategic plans for growth in the organic space. 

This course will include workshops and panels as well as traditional lecture-based presentations. Pre-work is recommended and will be provided ahead of time. Post-workshop, there will be the option to join a formal, professionally-moderated peer group made up of like-minded individuals designed to provide continuous, independent business support and networking.

For more information and to register, contact Brenda Tjaden at

Marketing 'Special Crops' and 'Organics' 

There are some interesting and useful similarities in the market structures for organics, and conventional special crops grown in western Canada. 

  • Volumes are similar; 
  • Buyers pay close attention to quality; 
  • Containers and totes are used more frequently than bulk; 
  • Whether it’s through an Act of God clause or not, forward contracts are usually cancelled with no penalty when crop failure is the cause.

Here are some tips based on our experience in marketing both special crops and organics: 

  1. Know the quality - take representative samples at harvest and get reliable grades, for every individual binlot. Keep those records organized and handy for the start of negotiating each sale. 
  2. Build relationships with new buyers - there is a fast-growing community of grain buyers on the organic scene in western Canada. These are responsible and safe companies to do business with, although their approaches to entering the organic space will be unique. Each will have its own customers and culture, making it important to call them up, ask questions and to be transparent.
  3. Forward selling organic grain ahead of harvest isn’t as risky as for some conventional crops, but systems and expectations are tightening up. Read the fine print, and talk regularly with your buyer about the condition of your crops in the field.
Above all, never forget: every load of grain eventually ends up on somebody's dinner plate. Always be careful and keep great records.

We're happy to help.

Have further questions? Drop us a line by emailing our founder, Brenda Tjaden at or visit our website at

Copyright © 2018. Sustainable Grain Inc. All rights reserved.

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Sustainable Grain · Box 4 Group 3 · Dugald, Mb R0E0K0 · Canada

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