Food and Farm Round-Up – Jan. 22

January tally of Ontario farm fires up to six
A fire at a pig barn in North Middlesex County Tuesday morning was the sixth in a string of January barn fires in Southwestern Ontario that has left almost 3,000 animals dead.
Around 2,100 pigs were killed in the fire Tuesday that investigators are saying isn’t considered suspicious.
Last weekend three more barn fires rocked the Ontario farming community. An empty barn in Georgetown was the first of the three weekend blazes, with the fire starting around 5:00 am last Saturday. It was the smaller of two barns located on a property along with a vacant home. There were no animals inside.
The next barn fire that weekend took place the following morning at a farm near Delaware. That fire also began before 6:00 am. As many as 500 milking goats and 30 cattle were lost in the blaze. Damage is estimated to be around $2 million.
The final barn fire of the weekend took place later that afternoon in Flamborough. First responders arrived on the scene of a burning barn around 12:30 pm. Farm equipment valued at around $100,000 was lost in the fire but no livestock.
Two previous barn fires this month claimed the lives of a combined 56 horses. In Puslinch, the fire that occurred on Jan. 5 left 43 Standardbred horses dead. On Jan. 14, 13 Arabian horses died in a barn fire in Mount Forest.
U.S. refineries overrun with ethanol
With supply of gasoline outpacing demand, American refineries are finding that they have more of the corn-based additive ethanol than they know what to do with. A report shows that U.S. corn production is at 13.6 billion bushels, and American ethanol mills during the first full week of January were producing over 1 million barrels per day. That’s the second-fastest pace on record. Ethanol inventory is at an 11-month high, to 21.3 million barrels, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration.
This is reportedly because increased efficiencies have allowed biofuel producers to produce more ethanol from every kernel of corn.
This comes as stockpiles of West Texas crude have reached record highs around the 64-million barrel mark.
Chinese Tennis star puts farming plans on hold
After a disappointing string of losses, Chinese tennis player Zhang Shuai told reporters in Melbourne she had been considering quitting professional tennis in favour of a relaxing new pursuit such as farming.
Instead, Zhang won in straight sets in her Australian Open first round match against the heavily favoured No. 2 seed Simona Halep. Zhang, who was ranked No. 133 in the world, had lost her 14 previous Grand Slam matches. She called the win the “best moment” of her career.
The 24-year-old Halep was a finalist at the French Open in 2014, and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2014 and the US Open last year.
Zhang said she had been considering taking up a profession fruit, vegetable and flower-growing.
Those plans will have to take a back seat, for the moment.