GFM Network News


The pandemic has everyone worried but “we’re not alone by any means,” says Tessa Verbeek, pictured with husband Colin and their daughter Rylin.

What was learned from BSE and what we’re learning now

Veteran producers and younger ones offer their thoughts and insights during this stressful time

Like the BSE crisis of 17 years ago, COVID-19 came without warning and pulled the ground out from underneath cattle producers almost overnight. Those who lived through those days say lessons learned from that time apply today, but there are also some important distinctions between that crisis and the pandemic. Arno Doerksen was chair of […] Read more



Workers in the JBS beef plant at Brooks shown in a 2018 corporate video.

Is there a better way? How COVID-19 might transform packing plants

The pandemic has demonstrated the need for change, but that won’t be an easy or cheap process, say experts

It’s become a nightmare scenario. Thousands of workers at meat-packing facilities across North America, including Alberta’s three beef plants, have contracted COVID-19 — and the resulting closures and production slowdowns have created a crisis for livestock producers. But is there any way out? “This will renew calls for more packing capacity in Canada,” said Mike […] Read more

The joy that comes from slowing down and “hanging out” has been one of the key things that Kevin and Rosalie Steeves — and many others — have learned during the pandemic. Supplied

Life and its blessings continue during these troubled times

Little joys have new meaning and family time has taken on new significance on farms across the province

Getting ready for the new baby and celebrating the one newly born. Having coffee with your spouse. Checking out some four-legged farm visitors. Getting a bit goofy on social media. Pausing to appreciate the arrival of spring. On farms across Alberta, special moments abound during these stressful and unprecedented times. And they are worth celebrating. […] Read more


Cattle producers are facing a crisis as bad, or worse, than BSE nearly two decades ago and many may choose, or be forced, to exit the business, says Alberta Beef Producers chair Kelly Smith-Fraser, pictured here with her daughter, Aubrey Fraser.

Alberta’s cattle producers facing a wall of worry

The situation is already grim for many, and many more are ‘questioning their future’

Alberta Beef Producers recently did something it hasn’t done since the BSE crisis nearly two decades ago — went to the government and asked for money. Ottawa responded by offering $50 million to help cover the cost of feeding cattle stranded by slaughter plant closures and slowdowns — an offer that was appreciated but disheartening, […] Read more



Move it or compost it might be the motto when it comes to bedding plants and baskets, which is why getting gardening centres designated an essential service was critical for the sector.

Growers relieved as Alberta garden centres declared an essential service

Product needs to move during the brief spring sales window, veggie gardens are suddenly popular again

Garden centres may not spring to mind when thinking of essential services, but getting that official designation was critical, says the CEO of Landscape Alberta. “It opens the value chain from the agricultural side,” said Joel Beatson, whose organization joined Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association in requesting greenhouses, nurseries and garden centres be classed as essential […] Read more

Quota reduction ends dumping of milk in Alberta

A five-per-cut has eliminated excess supply caused by the pandemic, says Alberta Milk

[UPDATED: May 4, 2020] A reduction in quota has ended the need to dump milk, says Alberta Milk. Changes in demand in March, caused by the pandemic, led to a surplus of milk in March. But a total production cut of about five per cent – comprised of a three per cent cut in quota […] Read more


Hershey, a bottle-fed calf, has become a regular on the virtual farm tours that Charlotte Wasylik began making last month.

A virtual farm walk spreads joy far and wide

A little project that started as a way for a family farm to communicate with friends and relatives has become a way to showcase agriculture to the world. Charlotte Wasylik of Chatsworth Farm near Vermilion, made a livestream video tour of her family farm on Facebook Live near the end of March. “We were originally […] Read more

Meat-processing plants across North America have had to temporarily close because workers have contracted COVID-19. But the Canadian beef sector is particularly vulnerable because two Alberta plants process nearly 75 per cent of the country’s cattle.

Alberta’s cattle sector takes a direct hit from pandemic

Packing plant closures create a backlog that quickly affects the entire production chain

It’s going to be painful, but hopefully COVID-19 in packing plants won’t turn into a nightmare scenario, say the president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and a leading food industry expert. Alberta’s two big facilities — Cargill’s High River plant and JBS’s Brooks plant — process nearly 75 per cent of the country’s beef. Combined, […] Read more