Category: Observer

Greenbelt disaster will test rural Ontario’s trust

If any political party wants to swoop in and try capturing Ontario’s farm and rural vote, I’d say now’s the time.

It’s hard to imagine anyone having faith in the government after the current Greenbelt debacle. But it’s a particular blow to rural Ontario, which has traditionally put its faith and hope in the Conservatives.
Photo credit: CBC

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Generation Z is stuck in a say-eat gap

A new survey shows Generation Z, people born between 1997 and 2012, are caught in what’s called a say-eat gap.

Even though they’re believed to be a generation of foodies, highly tuned in to their food choices, research shows they say one thing about food, but they do another when it comes to buying and eating it.
Photo credit: Rachel Ray Show

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Who has the right to own farmland?

The drive towards greater food security has raised a huge question: who has the right to own farmland?

North America has some of the best farmland anywhere. Its productivity is one of the big factors that determines the price. Buyers clamour for it.
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Resilient food systems need to absorb future shocks

I guess you would expect the agriculture secretary of the world’s most powerful country to be optimistic about the odds of feeding the world during such challenging times.

But it must be hard to keep your chin up when your country, which has a huge role in global food security, is so politically divided.

Photo credit: Alex Hudson on Unsplash, and World Economic Forum

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Pushing back against monopolies

Farmers’ ire rises, and so do their costs, every time more market consolidation takes place.

It’s an age-old formula: by buying their competitors, the giants of the industry control supply and price….

Photo credit: Wickipedia

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Fruit and vegetable growers hammered by high prices

The global Fresh Produce Coalition and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization met last month to talk about creating a group to analyze how cost hikes and supply chain disruptions have affected the fresh produce industry.

But really, is another analytical effort really needed to tell us how bad it is?

Photo credit: Feeser’s Food Distributors

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“Cattle laundering” is no bull, says producers

Brazil swears a blue streak that it has stopped clear-cutting the rainforest to grow crops and raise animals. It admits that practice occurred in the past. But now, it says, much of the grazing that takes place in or around the rainforest is carried out on land that was already cleared. Having cattle on it helps it make a comeback, they say.
Photo credit: Jonne Roriz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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The birds, the bees, and treated seeds

Another fight is full-on between agricultural technology and the public, this time involving pesticide-treated seeds.

Earlier this month, New York became the first US state to put forward legislation to ban seeds coated with neonicotinoid (popularly called “neonics”) ingredients.
Photo credit: Purdue University

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Farmers launch TV channel to shine a positive light

The media – and in fact, society overall — often gets blamed for ignoring farming. The only time the media cares about agriculture is when there’s a crisis, according to this line of thinking. And it goes on: On those rare occasions when the media does try to cover farming, it either sensationalizes the story or gets it wrong.
Photo credit: Ontario Pork

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In the long run, grazing can help reduce wildfires

Wildfire danger hit home in a big way this week.

Smoke from wildfires many hundreds of kilometres away, in Quebec and northeastern Ontario, descended on us like a blanket on Tuesday. Outdoor air quality was reported to be among the worst in the world. The situation made outdoor activities challenging, if not downright dangerous.
Photo credit: Genevieve Poirier/The Canadian Press

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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.