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Alberta’s organic heartland wants to bring more farmers on board

Two-year initiative will assist both existing growers and those wanting to transition to organic production

Being Alberta’s most northerly rural municipality isn’t Mackenzie County’s only claim to fame. “Right now, Mackenzie County has the highest number of organic farmers,” said Jacob Marfo, manager and research director of the Mackenzie Applied Research Association, (MARA). And the region may soon have more. MARA and Organic Alberta, with support from the county and […] Read more


Alberta Wheat decries pending loss of two popular wheat varieties

AC Muchmore and AAC Redwater will suffer from a price drop when they move to the northern red class

Five wheat varieties will be moving out of the Canadian Western Red Spring class, much to the disappointment of Alberta Wheat — and many farmers in the province. “We were surprised when it was announced that these varieties were coming out of the class. We were trying to look at all the farmers’ needs,” said […] Read more



The long decline is over as cow herd finally stabilizes

A lot has changed in the past decade and a half — but what comes next for Alberta’s cattle sector?

The big shrink seems to be over — but Alberta’s cow herd is considerably changed from the pre-BSE era. The latest Census of Agriculture found 1.57 million head in the province in 2016, a very slight increase (of 13,500 animals) compared to five years earlier. The herd is not only much smaller than prior to […] Read more


Rancher donates $2 million to take beef industry where it ‘needs to go’

Cochrane producer John Simpson says sector is doing a good job in caring for cattle but can do better

The cattle sector has made big advances in livestock health and wellness, but needs to do more, says a rancher who donated $2 million for a new research chair to make that happen. “This has nothing to do with bad treatment of animals — it has to do with better treatment, better protocol, better records, […] Read more



Feed additive could be a methane game changer

Feed additive that can halve emissions while boosting feed efficiency is now undergoing a large-scale study

There’s pressure on the beef industry to be more sustainable, and some of that pressure falls on scientists like Karen Beauchemin. The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ruminant nutritionist and her team at the Lethbridge research station are looking for ways to reduce enteric methane — gas produced when digesting feed — from beef cattle. One […] Read more


Heritage chicken program at the U of A continues to grow

Program brings heritage genetics into small flocks and supports university’s breeding efforts

The eggs came first, but the chickens are really coming on strong for the University of Alberta’s heritage breed program. The Poultry Research Centre’s ‘Adopt a Hen’ program has been running for many years and is an unqualified hit. Starting with 175 supporters, there are now 504 participants in the Edmonton area, and a waiting […] Read more



VIEW FROM THE NORTH: Small pond, big ripples

There could be some benefits in some areas, but the downsides are many and could seriously disrupt markets

China’s tariffs on American pork and soybeans will have impacts here, although how exactly is an open question. “It affects our producers because our hog prices are set off of the U.S. market,” said provincial pork specialist Ron Gietz after their imposition earlier this month. The tariffs sent American prices plunging, with Canadian prices following […] Read more


McDonald’s raises the bar — but Canada’s beef industry already there

Fast-food giant wants to slash its carbon footprint, and Canada's beef sector is a model

McDonald’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-third over the next dozen years is actually good news for Canadian beef producers, says the chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. “We’re far exceeding their expectations now and even into the future, so even for the 2030 goals, we’re well under it,” said Cherie […] Read more



In a bug-eat-bug world, farmers should help out their insect friends

Beneficial insects are tiny killing machines that can significantly reduce crop pests, says entomologist

Beneficial insects can be an unpaid workforce on your farm by killing pest species. And if you don’t help out the good ones, then you’re favouring those you don’t want, says an entomologist with Manitoba’s Agriculture Department. “Nature does not like a void,” said John Gavloski. “If you had no insects in a field or […] Read more


Halal beef a huge opportunity for Alberta, say market experts

The market for beef and food products produced in compliance with Islamic law is big and getting bigger

More needs to be done to tap into the huge and growing market for halal meat, say experts. “It’s a market that people seem to be a little afraid of or haven’t quite understood,” said Grant Winton, a manager with the International Relations and Marketing Section of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. The word ‘halal’ simply […] Read more