Category: Observer

Publish your rural story in the people’s archive

Ontario’s rural residents have stories unique to living life ‘in the country’. Now there’s a chance to read and share those experiences in a new, online space called the People’s Archive of Rural Ontario, thanks to a University of Guelph professor and the Rural Ontario Institute. Image:

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All hands on deck to promote agriculture, old and new

Urban agriculture is small-scale commercial farming, bringing food production to consumers’ doorsteps. Durham College has just received a $5 million gift to create a centre for sustainable urban agriculture. Strategic partnerships with the University of Guelph could multiply its impact for both urban and rural farming.

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Most Canadians still think of farmers in plaid. So what?

Global warming and environmental issues made the ‘top five’ list (for the first time) of Canadian consumer concerns about food production, according to a national survey. Food company profits and consumer affordability were up there too. The food industry would do well to better explain rising food costs, and the link between profits and sustainability. Image:

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Record farm profitability masks drop in research

A nation’s food security depends on profitable and sustainable food production. Agri-food research is the key to helping farmers achieve both those goals. A recent report by Global Food Security shows that despite healthy Canadian farm gate returns in 2021, we can’t afford to let research slide. Image:

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Ontario Ag Week finds minister all ears

Kudos to Lisa Thompson, Ontario minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for her plans to meet with representatives from across the sector to discuss increasing Ontario’s ag competitiveness – at home and abroad. She’s zeroed-in on the hot topics including trade and export, women in agriculture, innovation, jobs and training – all issues that will benefit from bright ideas and collaborations. Photo:

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Farmers gearing up to take on big business

Farmers aren’t happy about the continuing flurry of consolidations in the agricultural industry. They say that fewer companies with more influence throughout the supply chain limits their options and profits. Now they’re pushing back – with the Fairness for Farmers campaign. Image:

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Cooperation is key for farmers and new government

Agriculture has an important role to play in Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery, and the Grain Farmers of Ontario have let Ottawa know how they can help. Three key priorities, they say, will translate into fiscal progress for the sector, and benefits for the environment. Image:

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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:

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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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Teaching resource helps students learn about pigs

Today’s pork is a nutritious source of affordable protein, thanks to decades of careful swine breeding. AgScape, the non-profit organization dedicated to bringing agriculture and food into Ontario classrooms has teamed up with Ontario Pork to offer teacher curriculum packages to students in grades 5 to 10. Image: Ontario Pork

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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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