Category: Observer

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:

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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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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:

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Livestock producers keeping close eye on welfare vote

Animal activists in Colorado are pushing for a state ballot that could devastate livestock production in that state. Their proposals regarding minimum livestock lifespans and banned artificial insemination promise to raise meat prices through the roof and threaten gains made in healthier, better producing animals through decades of careful breeding.

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Ready, set, grow says federal lender about food sector

The outlook for Canada’s food and beverage processing industries is optimistic says Farm Credit Canada. But it’s a different story for the institutional food sector where hired help is hard to find. Farmers in Norfolk County are also experiencing labour problems with new local public health requirements for temporary international workers, just as they start to arrive. Photo:

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Let’s stop pretending climate change is not real

It’s hard to understand how anyone can still deny climate change when so many respected scientists confirm the fact. Just ask a farmer about the warmer temperatures and extreme weather events they’ve witnessed. Kudos to federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole for telling it like it is, in the face of opposition.

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I hear the train a-comin’ – from Mexico

Rail transport of freight has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and it looks like Canadian Pacific Railway Is about to ride that trend further. The company is about to become is the first rail network to link Canada, U.S. and Mexico, which has huge implications for agriculture in all three countries. Photo:

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Consumers acceptance will determine genetically altered livestock uptake

A tug-of-war is underway in the U.S. right now between two federal departments about who will have the oversight of genetically modified plants and animals. Currently it’s the Food and Drug Administration, but the U. S Department of Agriculture believes it should be at the fore, as do most farmers. No matter which agency prevails, it will be the consumer who has the final say in this controversial market. Photo:

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Farming needs to be understood, then celebrated

March is Agricultural Literacy Month. What does that mean? Thanks to government-funded programs, the agencies that deliver them and some benevolent donors, students are learning the facts about agriculture in Canada. If tomorrow’s consumers are discerning and well informed, that’s something to celebrate. Photo: Agscape.

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Farming is being treated like a carbon liability

Farmers feel the current federal carbon tax targets them unfairly. The carbon-based fertilizer and fuel they use are necessary to grow food. And it’s true that they’re not being compensated for measures like rotational grazing that actually sequester carbon in the soil. The public wants something done about climate change…so where’s the middle ground? Photo:

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Farmers need mental health services just for them

Farmers face a unique set of challenges every day – challenges over which they have little to no control. Weather, disease, commodity prices, the list goes on. Who better to receive targeted mental health programs than those who may need it most, but are least likely to ask. It’s long overdue and we owe them our support.

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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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