GFM Network News

Olds College, which recently acquired a self-driving DOT Power Platform, is a leading proponent of smart ag technology. Experts say next-generation technology could help Alberta rebuild its economy but investment dollars could be hard to come by post-pandemic.

Will we seize the day when it comes to smart ag technology?

Investing in next-generation agriculture would pay big dividends, but investment dollars will be in short supply

The pandemic has revealed critical weaknesses in the country’s agriculture and food systems — and the need to invest in their future, say experts. “It’s continuing to show the importance of technology, and adopting technology, on the farm,” said Remi Schmaltz, CEO and co-founder of Decisive Farming, an Alberta digital ag and farm management company. […] Read more

Researchers are keen to know what sort of projects will garner funding from Alberta’s ag research funder — but they will have to wait. The chair of Results Driven Agriculture Research said the organization doesn’t expect to start reviewing applications before the end of the year.

Research funder aims to be up and running by year’s end

New funding agency wants to boost province’s ag sector but creating the organization will take time

It will likely be next year before the province’s new ag research funding agency starts handing out money. “We’re setting up. We’re gathering information. We’re listening to it,” said David Chalack, interim chair for Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR). “And we have to execute on it. We need to get this entity set up.” The […] 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

Whether it’s wheat going to Sri Lanka in this CN Rail video shot at Prince Rupert or promoting the Canada Beef brand with scenes from an Alberta ranch, trade is vital to Canadian agriculture.

Thicker international borders feared from pandemic

Economics, nationalism, and food security fears are making trade less predictable and secure

The economic fallout from the pandemic could put fresh wind into the sails of protectionists, say industry officials here. “Generally speaking, the sense is that protectionist policies and measures are here to stay,” said Greg Cherewyk, president of Pulse Canada. “There will be a point where we revert back to a more or less normal […] Read more

Weed seed bank is higher this year and late spring favours weeds, too, says federal research scientist Breanne Tidemann.

Wet fall and late spring a recipe for increased weed risk

Pre-seed burn-off will depend on what’s popping up in your fields, so scout early, says weed scientist

You won’t hear weeds complaining about the weather — which adds up to another headache for producers. “Because we were so dry last spring, there were quite a few fields that didn’t get a pre-seed burn-off because there was nothing growing yet. I don’t think that’s going to be the same circumstance this year,” federal […] Read more

This pilot solar installation, built by SkyFire Energy near Tilley in 2015, could be a model for reclaiming orphan well sites on lower-quality land. Another pilot is underway in the MD of Taber but the provincial UCP government hasn’t demonstrated an interest in using well reclamation money for this sort of project.

Orphan well cleanup gets $1.7 billion from Ottawa

Move to deal with long-standing problem welcomed but bid to use sites for solar arrays may get lost in shuffle

A federal cash injection of $1.7 billion will help clean up Alberta’s mess of orphan oil and gas wells. “We were already planning to have a very busy 2020, and this is going to help us continue doing the work that we’re doing,” said Lars De Pauw, executive director of the Orphan Well Association. The […] Read more

Steph and Ben Campbell, owners of Grazed Right, have already pre-sold 15 per cent of next year’s meat sales as a result of higher-than-normal demand.

Demand soars as consumers find new appreciation for local food

Consumers are stocking up these days and increasingly looking towards local food producers

Demand for local food products has exploded in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We’ve seen a very big spike in interest and demand for our products,” said Steph Campbell, who owns and operates Grazed Right, a grass-fed beef company, with husband Ben near Calgary. “People are panic buying, and that’s spilling over into the […] Read more

Staff at Alberta Prairie Meats in Duchess are practising prescribed social distancing protocols, but it’s a challenge.

Hook space at a premium in small rural abattoirs

Pandemic has some producers considering selling direct to consumers

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Alberta Prairie Meats since the news broke that Cargill’s beef-processing plant was being temporarily shut down. “The minute that the Cargill situation was announced, our phones started ringing off the hook,” said Jim Johnson, who owns and operates the abattoir in Duchess. “We finally got so inundated with orders […] Read more

Plant shutdowns because of COVID-19 have greatly reduced processing and threaten to leave producers with nowhere to sell their pigs.

Producers need $35 a hog immediately, says Alberta Pork

Sector facing losses of $675 million and ‘desperately needs a lifeline’ in the face of plunging prices

Alberta’s pork producers need government aid of $35 a head just to keep their heads above water in the short term, say industry officials. “The hog industry desperately needs a lifeline,” said Alberta Pork chair Brent Moen. “Our producers are drowning in a sea of red ink, and we have our federal and provincial bureaucrats […] Read more

While the energy sector has been slammed by the pandemic and an oil price war, Alberta’s ag and agri-food sectors are “bright spots in a really dark economic situation,” says ATB economist Rob Roach.

In these troubled times, ag shows it has a ‘really bright future ahead’

The sector won’t have to ‘restart’ and it’s shown the world it can be counted on, says economist

Alberta’s agriculture industry could prove to be the silver lining to these COVID-19 storm clouds once the sky clears again. “There’s no doubt about it — the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Alberta really hard,” Rob Roach, director of research for ATB’s economics team, said in an April 8 interview. “We are in a recessionary situation, […] Read more