Ontario looks like two different worlds this growing season

Parts of Northern Ontario are parched, while areas in the south have been deluged. Farmers, livestock and communities are stressed. The minister of agriculture’s funding for emergency feed, water and fencing for cattle is welcomed, but farmers say it’s a stop gap. They are desperate for a reliable program to help them handle weather extremes. Photo: BeefNorth

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The best stops for food have lots more to offer

Farmers’ direct marketing efforts, such as roadside stands and farmers markets, do better in areas that already offer what the study called “natural” and “social” capital – specifically, farmland and cultural destinations for day tourists. Building a community with those attributes requires broad support. Photo: Fredrictonfarmersmarket.ca

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It’s packers vs farmers in this meat war

US President Joe Biden is introducing legislation that will make it easier for American livestock producers to sue unscrupulous meat processors. The legislation is aimed at encouraging more competition in a sector that has grown increasingly powerful with consolidations. Next up on the President’s agriculture agenda: clearer country of origin labelling, which could have a huge impact on Canadian beef producers. Photo: cnbc.com

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Is science finally winning over food buyers?

A recent Grassroots Public Affairs survey of Canadians found that consumers’ edginess towards federally approved products farmers use to protect their crops has slightly lessened. Perhaps scientists’ messages regarding product safety are finally being heard. Photo: bestfoodfacts.org

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New minister has huge opportunity to promote change

Lisa Thompson, MPP for the riding of Huron Bruce, has been appointed agriculture minister for Ontario. She’s been a strong agricultural education advocate and she’s well respected by the farming community…and now, she’s in a position to make a real difference for agriculture. Photo: omafra.ca

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Agriculture’s standing takes a blow in poll

Some surprising results were announced in the third annual Grassroots public opinion survey about Canadian agriculture and food. For example, the percentage of Canadians reporting that ag and food were of “very large importance to Canada’s national security” dropped 15 per cent from a year ago. But more respondents were feeling better about agriculture’s environmental sustainability.

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Skin colour stirs controversy – but it’s white

A U.S. loan forgiveness program aimed at giving minority farmers a leg-up came under fire recently. Although the long history of discrimination they’ve faced has is widely acknowledged, a group of white farmers from four states are suing the Biden administration. They say their skin colour shouldn’t prevent them from being able to participate. It seems the road to righting past wrongs is still filled with plenty of potholes. Photo: nytimes.com

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Generation Z getting the message about eating grain

The Grain Farmers of Ontario recently surveyed young people to get a sense of their thoughts about eating grain. About 43 per cent of 18-34 year-olds reported looking for whole grains when making purchasing decisions. But 35-54 year-olds seemed to be less likely to be listening to Canada’s Food Guide recommendation that half of daily grains consumed be whole grains.

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Bright minds at Olds College

Olds College in Alberta has been an agricultural learning centre for more than a century. Now it’s a leader in western Canada for innovative applied research. Meet Dave and Lauren, two inquiring minds who are enthusiastic about what Olds can do for them – and how they can contribute to Canadian agriculture.

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Pandemic recovery depends on rural investment

Rural areas face will face greater challenges in resuming economic activity following the pandemic. The lack of rural amenities, education and infrastructure – although high speed internet is finally coming – will continue to make it tough to attract and keep skilled labour. A more targeted approach with greater industry – community action may be part of the solution. Photo: infrastructurecanada.ca

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Urban Cowboy

Raising awareness and promoting dialogue about current food and agriculture issues.


Headshot of Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts is a faculty member in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program at the University of Illinois. As an agricultural journalist, he is the past president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists and a lifetime achievement award recipient from the Canadian Farm Writers' Federation.

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