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flowering canola field

Canola acres set to jump, but so will the risk of disease

Canola plantings are expected to increase by about one million acres, 
and that means more disease risk

Canola could top out at over 24 million acres in Canada this year — one million more acres than growers planted in 2017. “With the relative return right now, canola is looking better than wheat,” said Murray Hartman, oilseed specialist for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “If these kinds of price signals continue or strengthen in […] Read more

Organic record-keeping made easier

It’s important for organic producers to understand the standards — and how certifiers interpret those rules

Organic production comes with its own headaches — but that’s nothing compared to organic record-keeping. “It’s a crush of paperwork,” said Ward Middleton, an organic grain producer from Morinville. “It seems thoroughly intimidating, and we need to make it as easy as possible. Otherwise, we’ll never entice larger farms to go organic.” Organic certifying bodies […] Read more

The stereotypical organic consumer doesn’t exist anymore

Alberta has the highest proportion of organic consumers of any province in the country

If newspaper headlines are to be believed, millennials have already killed the paper napkin industry, department stores, and beer (somehow). Could conventional agriculture be next? Nah. All the generations are working on that one, says an organic industry official. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a millennial, Gen X, or baby boomer — across the board, […] Read more

Ottawa’s big cheque will pay even bigger dividends, says pulse group

But critics decry 
federal grants to 
next-gen industries

Critics are calling it “corporate welfare,” but the supporters of a protein supercluster say $150 million-plus in federal funding will turn pulses into the next canola. There’s never complete buy-in for this sort of government action, but projects like this typically aren’t possible without government funding, said Ron Styles, acting president of Protein Industries Canada. […] Read more

Kirriemuir producers named top young farmers

Alberta’s newest Outstanding Young Farmers don’t really see themselves as special. They see themselves as lucky. “We’re not extraordinary by any means,” said Craig Ference of Double F Farms near Kirriemuir. “We’re just doing what we love. We’re very fortunate to be Alberta farmers.” But luck had nothing to do with the Ferences’ recent win […] Read more

Farmers call for action on grain transportation

Thousands of rail cars haven’t been delivered in what has been the worst performance since the crisis of 2013-14

Farm groups are redoubling their efforts to get the federal Liberals to move Canadian grain — but their pleas appear to be falling on deaf ears. Olds-area farmer Jeff Nielsen travelled with other farm leaders to Ottawa at the start of the month in a bid to get the government to crack a whip and […] Read more

Robo-tractors invented by farmers are already here

Software-savvy producers aren’t waiting for equipment makers — 
they’re writing code and automating their machines

Kyler Laird did it the John Deere way when he returned to the family farm in Indiana after his father’s death in 2010. But after five years of sitting in a tractor, planting crooked rows of corn, he decided to do it his way instead. “Even when I was a kid out discing or out […] Read more

Cattle aren’t actually killing the planet, says vegetarian rancher

Livestock’s environmental impact is complicated but done right, it’s good for the planet, says author

It’s become accepted wisdom that cattle production is worse for the environment than gas-guzzling SUVs — but it’s not true. “We’re told over and over again that cattle are bad for the environment and, therefore, everybody should eat less beef,” said Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production. “We’re […] Read more

You need to up your game on managing people, say producers

Top-down management doesn’t cut it anymore, but fewer than one in five farms have a human resources plan

Five years ago, Kevin Serfas tried to manage human resources on his farm. It was a “train wreck.” Workers were walking away from the job. The people who stayed weren’t happy. And Serfas found himself on Facebook, “begging people to come run a tractor.” Finally, he went to one of his remaining workers and said […] Read more

Farmers once again railing against slow grain movement

Slow grain movement this winter is bringing back bad memories for many

Despite recent improvements to rail transportation in Canada, farmers are still forced to rely on a largely unreliable system. “Rail is the backbone of the economy, but it’s also the Achilles heel,” said Mark Hemmes, president of Quorum Corporation. The 2016-17 crop year was one for the books. Despite a slow start, the system set […] Read more