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Agriculture

N.L. farmers feel powerless against hungry moose destroying their crops

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Hungry moose have been taking a bite out of the profits of farmers in Newfoundland, prompting calls for the province to help put an end to the night-time feeding frenzies.

Crop loss from munching moose been a long-standing issue in Newfoundland, where the massive herbivores were introduced in the 1900s. But it’s become a heated political debate this fall, as farmers decry the end of a longstanding permit that allowed them to shoot the animals on their properties at night.

“Just about all farmers in the field crop area have been affected by it in one way or another,” said Merv Wiseman, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture.

Wiseman said the industry was not notified about the change, leaving farmers “sideswept” when they tried to obtain the licences. He said many of the affected farmers have bright lights on their properties, making visibility while firing at the animals a non-issue.

“It’s not as if farmers are going willy-nilly killing these animals, not knowing what they’re doing, discharging firearms in the middle of the night,” Wiseman said.

Farmers can make use of other methods to keep the moose at bay, such as calling wildlife officers to respond or applying for a grant to assist in building fencing, but these have been criticized as too slow or otherwise ineffective.

Gerry Byrne, the province’s minister of fisheries and land resources, said the permits were discontinued after a review of the Wildlife Act, which prohibits hunting at night.

He said the change was a preventative safety measure meant to align policy with the law, but after weeks of public discussion he said he’s open to taking feedback on the issue.

“I’d be very ready and very willing to consult with people — with farmers and with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador generally — around this issue,” Byrne said in an interview, adding he’d like to find a middle ground between public safety and the financial security of farmers.

Krista Chatman said she was one of the lucky ones this year, with some losses to a corner of her farm’s cabbage crop that was nibbled away. But she’s familiar with the path of destruction left behind in a farmer’s field after a night-time visit from a hungry moose.

Chatman, who operates Three Mile Ridge farm in Lethbridge, N.L., said damage from pests is expected in the farming business, but moose are particularly destructive because of their size, strength and appetite. Chatman’s family has tried installing tall electric fences around their property, but those haven’t been effective.

“It’s pointless. Every single day, every single morning, you’re up repairing an electric fence that they just walk through. It doesn’t deter them,” she said.

The animals also aren’t scared away by moving vehicles or noise, and Chatman said a moose can do significant damage by trampling a vegetable crop in search of the perfect morsel.

“They walk on so many, take a bite out of one. Walk on so many more, take a bite out of another one. They really destroy a field very quickly,” she said. “Overnight you can lose thousands of dollars of worth of product.”

Chatman has taken advantage of the night licence before, and like Wiseman, said she’d support more training for farmers if the provincial government were to reinstate it. More recently, she’s been in touch with licensed outfitters who will shoot an animal that’s threatening the crops, which she said has helped.

A silver-bullet solution may be hard to find, but moose-related damage to crops could pose a setback to the province’s goal of doubling its food self-sufficiency to at least 20 per cent by 2022.

Philip Thornley, who operates Campbellton Berry Farm in central Newfoundland, said he’s struggled with moose feasting on his crops for 40 years, and he anticipates increased production will attract more.

He said the province should “grab the moose by the horns” in support of farmers, suggesting more subsidized fencing, compensation for farmers and bait crops to keep the animals away. 

Whatever the solution, Thornley said it should go further than bringing back night shooting, which he argues is not a viable option for people who are already overworked and need to rest at night.

“I’ve already worked a 12-hour day during the daylight, I don’t need to be out there after supper with a flashlight and a rifle,” he said.

“There’s got to be a solution that goes way beyond dumping more work on the farmer.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2019.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, 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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