Category: Observer

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:

Read More

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:

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Recent Tweets