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Agriculture

Climate change threatens food production in countries that need it most: study

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About 90 per cent of humanity — including most of the world’s poorest people — faces poorer harvests and smaller catches if efforts to fight climate change don’t drastically ramp up, says research published Wednesday.

And while Canada may be one of the only countries where production of grain and fish could increase, Canadians shouldn’t feel smug, says study co-author William Cheung from the University of British Columbia.

“We are living in the same world. Everything is connected. Any country that thinks they would be able to isolate themselves from any problems or impacts in other countries is unrealistic,” Cheung said in an interview.

Cheung’s research has long focused on the impact of climate change on marine resources. He co-authored a recent paper concluding the amount of life in the oceans will decrease 17 per cent by 2100 under current greenhouse gas rules.

This paper, published in the journal Science Advances, is broader yet.

It starts by estimating the average productivity of agriculture and fisheries in about 200 countries by 2100.

For some countries, average farm production could increase while fisheries decline, the paper says. For others, it’s likely to be the reverse.

It also says that in Canada — almost uniquely in the world — both are expected to increase. But there are plenty of lose-lose countries, mostly in the heavily populated nations around the equator.

It predicts that heat is expected to make much of their land unfarmable. Many tropical fisheries are likely to disappear as fish head north to cooler waters.

Cheung compared that data to how dependent local people are on their own agriculture and fisheries. He also considered how resilient their communities are to climate change. He came to a disturbing conclusion.

Not only are 7.2 billion people likely to see declining food production, they are also the most dependent on it, the least resilient and the poorest.

“The countries that have the highest exposure to hazards are also those that are most sensitive and least adaptive,” Cheung said. 

The study was released the day after the United Nations warned that governments are not doing enough to keep global temperature increases to between 1.5 and two degrees Celsius.

Cheung won’t call his paper pessimistic. He points out it also says there’s still time to avert disaster.

Cutting greenhouse gases to keep within Paris targets would reduce average crop losses for lose-lose countries to five per cent from 25 per cent. Their average fisheries losses would improve to 15 per cent from 60 per cent.

“That’s a big opportunity to reduce the impacts on the most vulnerable regions.”

And if rich countries need an economic incentive, Cheung’s paper provides that as well.

Most of the 15 countries that produce about 80 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases would enter the win-win category for agricultural and fishery production under stringent climate rules. That list includes the United States and China.

“We are lagging behind in terms of our moral obligation to take action.”

Cheung remains optimistic, despite work that constantly confronts him with the realities of climate change.

“It reminds me of how big a challenge we have. It reminds me of the opportunities we have to avoid the biggest problems.”

But he’s not kidding himself about the size of the problem.

“We need drastic action. We need all hands on deck.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2019.

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Agriculture

Is the Meat Industry Equipped to Handle a Pandemic?

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Is the Meat Industry Equipped to Handle a Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted industries across the world. One of the main sectors that’s concerning experts is the meat and agriculture industry. This concern intensifies in Western Canada since much of the land there is farmland. The imbalance of supply and demand is affecting present-day agricultural production. However, farmers and industry leaders are focused on what is still to come in the future.

From labour shortages to potential outbreaks during production, the future of the meat industry is unclear. The outcome will depend on several factors: government aid, the spread of the virus and COVID-19’s behaviour — which is often unpredictable. Ultimately, the present handling of the meat industry may impact its future and relationship with consumers.

Current Standing

The Government of Canada recently decided to assist farms across the country with federal funding. These farms rely on the production and exportation of meats like beef, pork and chicken to reach supply and demand needs. However, as the virus continues spreading, farmworkers need to maintain physical distance and increase sanitation practices. The government’s funding will compensate workers during this time.

For Canada, part of the stress on the industry comes from the exportation needs. While farmers need to meet country-wide demands, Canada is also an international exporter, especially for the United States.

While the industry is currently suffering from labour shortages, production remains relatively stable. Farmers are adapting to meet new supply and demand requirements. For instance, since restaurants are closing, demands for certain foods, like cheese, will decrease. As workers fall ill and farms need to enforce social distancing, though, production is slowing down.

The funding from Canada’s federal government is supposed to help workers, especially those who are newly arriving. Migrants from Mexico and the Caribbean make up a large portion of Canada’s agricultural workforce. However, whether this funding will be enough is yet to come to light. Additionally, ensuring the even distribution of that money to migrant workers is another issue.

The Industry’s Future

Many experts are focusing on the road ahead. While the current path is fluctuating, the future may hold a more dangerous outcome for the industry. If the virus continues spreading at its current rate, farms may see more issues than ever before.

One of the main factors is the labour shortage. Currently, Canada’s farming labour force is lacking. Production is slow, and workers don’t have the resources and help they need to meet demands. In the future, this could worsen as fewer employees are available. For instance, the poultry sector faces significant demands every day. Part of the process of raising chickens includes weeks of tending to them. If there aren’t enough people to do this job, consumers will see the availability of chicken drop.

The issue of perishables will also present itself. As meat processing must be quick, slower production means more goods will go to waste. Meeting supply and demand requires healthy workers to keep the chain going.

The other major factor that will affect the industry is the spread of the virus. That depends on how the Canadian government handles COVID-19 and how efficiently people practice social distancing. Federal funding will aid production, but if the virus remains present, it will continue spreading. If it reaches processing plants, contamination will become a more serious issue than it already is.

Next Steps

To increase resources and support for farmers and migrant workers, the government will need to provide more emergency funding. This step allows the agriculture industry to invest in more tools, sanitation products, financial support and benefits for all workers. Monitoring the spread of the virus is also crucial. If the government can properly track and isolate cases, COVID-19 will dwindle in its effects. Then, meat industry workers will not have to worry about contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

Canadian Federal Government Taking Measures to Reduce Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

 

 

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Agriculture

Calgary English Stirrup Manufacturer Launches Fundraising Campaign to Help Alberta SPCA

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Calgary English Stirrup Manufacturer Launches Fundraising Campaign to Help Alberta SPCA

April 18, 2020, Calgary, AB

PEAK Equestrian is a Calgary-based manufacturer and seller of angled English stirrup irons. They’ve joined forces with the Alberta SPCA to help horse and other animal owners keep their animals safe, healthy and fed during this difficult time.

From every pair of Peak Stirrups sold through Peak Equestrian’s website, by phone, email or direct message, $10.00 will be donated to the Alberta SPCA. Email: [email protected] or call 403.230.0113 to get involved.

The donated funds will go towards helping horse and domestic pet owners who are struggling to pay for hay or other feed as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s hope is to raise a minimum of $10,000 for this important cause.

“We are passionate about animals,” said Claire Goddard, sales and marketing director with Peak Equestrian. “We want to help horse owners and pet owners keep their animals at home instead of having to surrender them to the Alberta SPCA or worry about not being able to feed them because they can’t afford to.”

“Rather than seeing horse and other animal owners worry about feeding their animals when they are struggling financially and feeling like they have no other choice but to surrender their animals, the Alberta SPCA wants to work with animal owners to make sure owners have enough food for their pets and livestock,” said Dan Kobe, Communications Manager with Alberta SPCA.

“If horse owners or pet owners are having trouble sourcing and paying for feed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they can contact us at albertaspca.org/helpforanimals, and we will donate dog and cat food as needed, and will even source and donate hay and other livestock feed until the grass begins to grow,” he added. “Donating part of the sales from our stirrups feels like the right thing to do,” said Craig Goddard, president and design specialist at Peak Equestrian. “We are horse owners ourselves and we know how hard it can be to take care of animals during this difficult time, especially livestock, so we are happy to donate to such a great cause.”

Peak Equestrian is a new start-up company under Corma Industries, a Calgary-based manufacturer. Learn more here.

The Alberta SPCA is a registered charity dedicated to the welfare of animals. The organization encourages the humane treatment of animals through enforcement of animal protection legislation and through education programs throughout Alberta. The society works closely with other agencies in animal welfare, agriculture, education, violence prevention and other areas to provide the best level of protection for animals.

Alberta SPCA Offers “Help For Animals”

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