Category: Observer

New centre is a big step forward for farmers’ wellbeing

Last week’s announcement of the new Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing is a welcome move in support of farmers’ mental health.
The centre’s focus on action is what’s needed to help food producers deal with the daunting challenges – such as weather, disease, prices – they face every day. Image: Canadian Centre for Agricultural Wellbeing

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Agriculture and food are matters of national security

US President Biden is enlisting the Dept. of Homeland Security to get tough about potential threats to the country’s food supply. Canada doesn’t have the same resources as the U.S., but a home-grown, real-time technology for meat processing lines could help improve one of the biggest threats – food safety.

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Encourage and reward farmers for being good stewards

Farmers have long asked to be credited for the important environmental work they do – such as sequestering greenhouse gases through careful pasture management and cropping practices. Now, an Alberta insurance plan is proposing to reward farmers who maintain high levels of organic matter in their soils. It’s a science-based strategy that benefits us all.

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The battle over labelling alcohol resurfaces

Better nutritional labelling on alcohol is the aim of health advocates in the U.S. who are suing the U.S. Treasury and Secretary Janet Yellen, to draw attention to their cause. Is calorie and ingredient information likely to moderate peoples’ consumption? It seems unlikely. Photo:

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Settle in for higher food prices this fall

Farmers need to get out in front of public anger over rising food prices. They’re an easy target, especially when most consumers don’t realize just how much the price of fertilizer and energy – both major expenses in food production – have sky-rocketed. Photo:

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Farming’s renaissance hinges on research and investment

U.S. agriculture ecretary Tom Vilsack is pumping about $1 billion in USDA funding into pilot projects designed to move food production closer to net zero emissions, without reducing yields. More than 1000 prorojects have been submitted to-date. Vilsack says he expects to see “enormous opportunities” come out of this initiative. Photo:

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Food giants shouldn’t dictate farming for the future.

McCain Foods Limited and MacDonald’s Canada are putting up $1 million to show potato farmers how to adopt regenerative growing practices that are good for the environment. Encouraging growers to reduce tillage and chemical applications and increase biodiversity are positive moves. But although the environment comes out a winner, consumers are losers when sustainably grown potatoes are turned into fast-food french fries.

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Food trends meet the back-to-school lunchbox

When it comes to school lunchboxes, keep things simple with fruits and vegetables. There’s plenty of great information available on every food topic, but what’s most important is that kids enjoy eating what you’ve sent and it’s good for them too. Photo:

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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. His programs and research papers have been recognized nationally and internationally through awards from the Journal of Applied Communications, the National Agri-Marketing Association, the Association for Communications Excellence, and others.

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