Category: Observer

Europe opens up to GMOs while America waves a yellow flag

Anti-GMO sentiment seems to be waning in Europe, and the European Commission is stepping up approvals for farmers to grow genetically modified crops. At the same time, in North America, where GMO crops got their start, concerns have heightened about farmers’ overuse of the herbicides that control weeds in GMO fields. Photo: geneticliteracyproject.org

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Building back means building up those with not enough

The numbers of Ontarians accessing food banks hasn’t declined in step with post-pandemic economic recovery. Feed Ontario, the province’s largest collective of hunger relief organizations, has released a report of recommendations aimed at resolving the root causes of hunger. It should be top drawer reading for all politicians.

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Cash, the cringe factor and meatless meat

A new study out of the University of Illinois says that the meatless meat industry’s success will depend primarily on two factors: cost to produce, and consumer acceptability.
Plant-based meat seems worthy of a try, but lab-cultured meat product? That might be a bit tougher to swallow. Image: Techcrunch.com

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Canadian bacon is not immune to California farming laws

Food is a global commodity and changes in US agriculture usually impact Canadian farmers as well.   So it’s not surprising that pork producers here are concerned about pending California legislation requiring more floor space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves – not just by the state’s own producers, but all jurisdictions that sell into the large California market. Photo: nbcnewscrunch.com

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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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Urban Cowboy

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

OWEN ROBERTS

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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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