All posts by Barry Potter

Agriculture Development Advisor, working with farmers and ag business in northern Ontario. Focus is on livestock, beef, dairy and sheep.

Methods to Reduce Predation in Ontario

Predation by wildlife is a year-round problem in rural Ontario with two peak periods in spring and late summer. OMAFRA has developed the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program to help farmers who lose livestock due to wild animals killing or injuring their stock. This resource offers training materials and suggestions for farmers to help discourage wildlife from attacking.

Recently a farmer from northern Ontario demonstrated the effectiveness of a couple of these methods. There was an incident in which a pack of large grey wolves were attacking beef cattle on the farm. The producer had contracted a trapper but the attacks continued. The farmer called an OMAFRA advisor asking for help. The advisor suggested using a combination of flashing lights and noise to discourage the wolves as demonstrated in the video below.

Continue reading Methods to Reduce Predation in Ontario

Building the Brand Northwest Beef

Developing new markets closer to home can add value and cut costs. Beef Farmers in Northern Ontario working with Local Food and Farm Co-op Ontario developed a new brand called Northwest Beef, focused on accomplishing those two objectives and adding value to the agriculture industry of Northwestern Ontario.

NWO+beef+logo+draft+3-03With some aid from federal and provincial funding, The Local Food and Farm Co-op was able to bring together beef farmers from Thunder Bay, Rainy River, and Kenora districts to look at producing and marketing beef in a new, innovative way. Consumers in the three districts were surveyed to find out what the determining factors for purchasing beef were. The results provided a basis for the farmers from the Northwest. Collectively, the farmers agreed on a brand, production practices, and a marketing strategy. A co-op of participating farmers from the three districts was formed. Each district has a processing facility for harvesting the animals and storing the meat.

Continue reading Building the Brand Northwest Beef

Breaking down the barriers to agricultural expansion in Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario has vast areas of undeveloped or underdeveloped land suitable for agriculture. While this land costs less than in southern Ontario, there are many perceived and real challenges deterring agriculture in the north.

A recent study by Hearst University and the University of Guelph examined the barriers restricting expansion in the north, and how can they be overcome. The area of study focused on Cochrane district, or what is commonly referred to as the Great Claybelt, but the results can apply to anywhere in the north. Continue reading Breaking down the barriers to agricultural expansion in Northern Ontario


It’s the season of fall fairs. These annual events provide an opportunity for farmers to showcase their work, interact with the general public, and evaluate their produce and livestock against other farmers.

Fall fairs are a celebration of  agriculture everywhere The local fall fair brings farmers and consumers together. A recent study indicated that three-quarters of fair attendees think that agricultural education is an important component of fair attendance. For many people, it is their once a year time to get up close and personal with a farm animal or product. Continue reading The Impact of FALL FAIRS: A LASTING IMPRESSION

Good Fencing Systems Make Livestock Farming Easier

A major limiting factor for beef production in Ontario is the lack of fencing.  With the spread of cash cropping across the province in recent years, perimeter fencing has been removed on many farms. Establishing, or re-establishing fencing is one of the first steps to getting into cattle farming.

Good perimeter fences are necessary for keeping cattle where you want them. Perimeter fencing maintains good neighbor relations and safe cattle, while interior fencing, subdividing fields, allows for increased pasture management.

There are many fencing options available: page wire, barb wire, and electric being three common types in Ontario. Continue reading Good Fencing Systems Make Livestock Farming Easier

Cultivating the Great Claybelt

Interest in developing and expanding agriculture in northern Ontario has increased recently. Industry groups such as Beef Farmers of Ontario have pushed to expand their sectors by utilizing underdeveloped, less expensive land in the north. OMAFRA has been working hard to provide support for this initiative. Municipalities across the district of Cochrane, coalescing under the banner of the North East Community Network recently hosted a two-day conference to focus on the challenges and opportunities in the region known as the great claybelt, as well as across northern Ontario as a whole.

The conference “Cultivating the Great Claybelt” attracted more than 250 attendees to Kapuskasing in late March 2017.

Continue reading Cultivating the Great Claybelt

Cost Of Production Calculators Available To Help With Business Planning

In the complex world of production agriculture, determining which crops will make you the most profit can be a daunting task. To help with decision making, several tools are available for downloading from the OMAFRA web site.

One of these tools is the crop budgeting tool.

The crop budgeting tool provides an easy way to enter your costs, yield, and return expectations. From this you can see whether one type of crop will provide value over another. Each producer will have individual costs for items such as seed, fertilizer, and custom work. By entering these costs, one can see the overall cost per acre to grow the crop. The tool also allows for an optimistic, expected, and pessimistic yield, showing the upper end of returns versus what happens if disaster occurs.

This data can be entered on a per acre basis, or on a total acre per field or farm basis.

The tool includes the ability to select the amount of crop insurance coverage a producer would like.

Figure 1 shows the input for the various yield expectations.


The tool also provides a unique “chance of breaking even” based on the data input. Figure 2.

figure-2-chance-of-breaking-evenSome field crops that have budget tools available are: corn, soybeans, canola, barley, oats and wheat.

There is also horticulture crop, fruit tree and livestock budgets available.

Knowing which crops have the potential to provide profit can assist producers with planning and meeting with suppliers and financial institutions. Knowledge is power, and these are powerful tools to provide that knowledge.

To access these tools, please go to:

#Agsplore The North

pic-1-modifiedAt the end of September 2016 a bus load of University 
of Guelph, Ontario Agriculture 
College (OAC) students headed north from Guelph to tour the Nipissing and Temiskaming farming districts. Through pictures and quotes here is a summary of their trip.

Two OAC students from the Temiskaming District, Emily Potter and Tanja Gahwiler, decided their fellow aggies should experience the agriculture found in northern Ontario, so they set about to organize a bus trip to northeastern Ontario.

With assistance and sponsorship from enthusiastic farm associations, the two brought 50 of their fellow students to the region. Continue reading #Agsplore The North

Talking to the public about agriculture

Can you explain what you do on your farm to non-farmers?

That was the question posed recently by Bernard Tobin at the Real Dirt on Farming Speakers Training session held in Earlton, Ontario. He challenged us to be able to describe what we do in words that anyone can understand.  He also said that, farmers should be ready to talk at the drop of a hat, or at the doctor’s office, or the grocery store, etc.

royal barry
Barry Potter, Agriculture Development Advisor at the 2015 Royal Agriculture Winter Fair

Volunteering at the OMAFRA booth at the 2015 Royal Agriculture Winter Fair in Toronto made me realize again how interested people are in their food, and how little they actually know about how it is produced. Continue reading Talking to the public about agriculture

Staff Profile: Barry Potter, Agriculture Development Advisor

Get to know our staff. We’ll be profiling them here so you can get to know who can help you grow your ideas. Barry Potter

  1. What is your role in the Regional Economic Development Branch?

I cover all of Northern Ontario as an Agriculture Development Advisor with a Livestock specialty. I work with the other advisors in the north, and provincial teams on livestock projects.  I work closely with Daniel Tasse, fellow advisor in New Liskeard to cover general agriculture economic development questions in the districts of Temiskaming and Cochrane. Continue reading Staff Profile: Barry Potter, Agriculture Development Advisor