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Open Farm Days This Weekend all over Alberta!!

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From the Province of Alberta

New attractions brewing at Open Farm Days

Albertans are encouraged to mark Aug. 17-18 on their calendars to experience this year’s Alberta Open Farm Days lineup, including an exclusive craft beer.

This year Open Farm Days reached out to the breweries registered, and proposed they collaborate together to make a special OFD beer.  The breweries that have decided to participate include Troubled Monk Brewing, Apex Predator Brewing, Lakeland Brewing Company, Blindman Brewing, Township 24 Brewery, and Red Bison Brewery.

Alberta craft brewers

People can visit more than 150 host farms across the province for open houses, tours and an opportunity to buy locally grown and homemade products.

“Open Farm Days is a fantastic event that gives Albertans a chance to get to know neighbours and learn where our food comes from. It’s also a great way to buy local and support our rural economy and agriculture sector, with fun events for the whole family.”

Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

Culinary farm-to-fork events that highlight local ingredients have been popular at Open Farm Days. This year, six Alberta breweries have developed a craft beer featuring four Alberta-grown products. The Open Farm Days cream ale showcases Alberta-grown wheat, oats, corn and haskap berries. The ale is available now at participating breweries and select restaurants.

“Alberta has some of the world’s best farmers, food producers and processors. Now is a great time to step up and show support for Alberta’s agriculture industry. I encourage Albertans to buy local food, meet a farmer in their community and get to know the people who put food on their tables.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Overall, there are 29 culinary events and 11 tours to enjoy this year. Other fan-favourite activities such as corn mazes, hayrides and mini golf are also making their return.

Admission to farms is free, but there may be costs for some activities and many are cash only. It is also recommended to bring a cooler to store produce and other products. Tickets for culinary events are available for purchase. Space is limited, so people are encouraged to buy tickets ahead of time.

Alberta Open Farms Days is a collaborative project presented by the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, Travel Alberta and participating farms and ranches. Visit albertafarmdays.ca for more information, including details about tickets and where to buy the Open Farm Days cream ale.

Quick facts

  • Open Farm Days has directly contributed to nearly $650,000 in on-farm sales since 2013.
  • There have been nearly 82,000 visits over the history of Alberta Open Farm Days, with increasing attendance each year.
  • Since Open Farm Days launched in 2013, 484 Alberta farms have participated in the popular event.
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Ag Business

What the USMCA Might Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?

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Canada, USA, Mexico flags

We welcome guest writers to all of our Todayville platforms. Here’s a submission from Emily Folk.  Emily is passionate about agricultural sustainability and more of her work can be found on her site, Conservation Folks. In this story, Emily Folk explains the USMCA Impact on Agriculture. 

What Could USMCA Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been in the news a lot lately. The leaders of the respective nations signed the trade agreement on November 30, 2019, and ratification is pending. You can think of the USMCA as an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate NAFTA after publicly speaking unfavourably about it. The USMCA is the result of that vow. The agreement spans several areas, such as the origin of automobile parts and new labor laws in Mexico that make it easier for workers to unionize. The USMCA also has a “sunset clause” that makes its terms expire after 16 years. Plus, every six years, the leaders of the countries involved must agree on whether to extend the deal.

Some agriculture-specific stipulations also exist within the USMCA. Additionally, the agreement notably mentions biotechnology. Here’s a closer look at how the USMCA might change these two industries.

More Exporting Opportunities for Farmers

One of the key points often mentioned about the USMCA is that parties expect the agreement to cause a $2 billion increase in U.S. agriculture exports, triggering a $65 billion rise in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Canada and Mexico are currently the top two exporting markets for American farmers, supporting more than 325,000 American jobs. In 2018, the food and agricultural exports destined for Canada and Mexico totaled more than $39.7 billion.

The USMCA also opens exporting opportunities that did not exist before. Now, U.S. dairy farmers will have expanded access to send products such as fluid and powdered milk, cheese and cream to Canadian parties. There will also no longer be U.S. tariffs on whey and margarine. This change is notable, considering the Canadian dairy market produced roughly 17% of the United States’ annual output over the past three years.

In exchange, Canada will give the United States new access to chicken and eggs, plus increased access to turkey. Plus, all other agriculture products traded between the U.S. and Mexico will be under a zero-tariff model.

Moving Forward With Agricultural Biotechnology

Another improvement associated with the USMCA is that it looks at agricultural technology more broadly than other trade agreements have.

For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a proposed trade agreement between 12 nations — only addressed biotechnology regarding recombinant DNA (rDNA). That process involves joining the molecules from two different species, then inserting the product into a host to create new genetic combinations. Instead, the USMCA opens possibilities for all kinds of agricultural technology, including gene editing. Moving ahead with biotechnology could be crucial for addressing pressing matters that affect agriculture, such as water scarcity.

Approximately 700 million people suffer from water scarcity, and that number could double by 2025. Also, the agriculture industry is the greatest user of water. Things must change — both to address the growing water scarcity problem and to give farmers more options for growing things without using so much water.

Biotechnology has already helped, and it seems highly likely to continue spurring progress. In one example, scientists altered the expression of one gene common to all plants. This change led to a 25% increase in the plants’ water-use efficiency without adversely impacting yield or photosynthesis.

As part of the USMCA, Mexico, Canada and the United States agreed to improve information sharing and cooperation about biotechnology matters related to trade. That change could speed new developments, resulting in positive outcomes for all involved groups and the world at large.

Fairer Agricultural Grading Standards

A grading system for agricultural products defines trading procedures. For example, commercial buyers of a product grown in another country refer to the grading standards to set expectations about a product’s quality. The USMCA specifies that Canada will evaluate U.S. imported wheat and assign it a grade no less favourable than it would give Canadian-grown wheat.

Canada will also no longer require country of origin statements associated with inspection certificates or quality grades. The United States and Canada will discuss issues related to seed regulations under the USMCA, too.

Concerning Mexico and the United States, the two countries agreed to non-discriminatory grading standards and services. Moreover, a dialogue will begin between the two countries to flesh out the details for quality standards and grading regarding trade.

A Promising Future

It’s too early to say what the real-life effects will be of the changes outlined here. But, the commitments laid out within the USMCA seem like they’ll represent clear improvements for agriculture professionals, as well as everyone who benefits from their goods.

 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.  You can read more of my work by clicking this link:   Conservation Folks.

 

 

 

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Ag Business

Farmers Rock for AG at Farm Forum Event in Saskatoon

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Ag Rocks For Charity is a cool initiative.

Nick Saik puts his massive skills to good work in this video showcasing some harmonica riffls along with a fine pitch for donating to his charity of choice Agriculture In The Classroom. Nick is our partner in Todayville Agriculture and we are cheering him on in his quest to raise $5 grand. Or as he puts it, “…Teaching Kids by Beating My Dad…”.

It’s part of the AG Rocks For Charity initiative, a fun component of the Farm Forum Event, a 3 day conference in Saskatoon, SK (Dec. 3rd to 5th). The video tells you all about how passionate Nick is about laying a fiscal beating on his pa.

AG ROCKS FOR CHARITY is a highlight of the weekend.  Here’s how it works.  Some very talented volunteers compete to raise the most money and profile for their charity of choice. Click here for the entire talent line up, other important links, and more information.

We’re excited about all of the performances, but in particular, we’re pushing our own hometown hero Nick Saik.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT NICK AND DONATE RIGHT NOW TO AGRICULTURE IN THE CLASSROOM.

PHOTO OF NICK ON RAILROAD

Nick Saik, President of Know Ideas Media, filmmaker, media entrepreneur, musician, dad

As noted, Nick’s charity of choice is  Agriculture In The Classroom. In Nick’s words, “…helping kids get excited about food production is critical for the long term public trust of agriculture, and nobody is better at giving kids good information than Ag In The Classroom…”

We’ve heard Nick perform before, and recently caught him strumming his guitar and brushing up on some Garth and The Band.  From what we’re hearing, his interpretations of Friends in Low Places and The Weight are certainly worthy of the price of admission right there.

Nick’s also a talented filmmaker. If you want to see some of his handiwork, check out this story featuring a brilliant short video he produced called “Nut Milking Exposed”, now viewed well north of 50 million times.

The Farm Forum Event is a three-day conference that brings together progressive farmers, agricultural professionals and academics to learn about where game-changing innovation and the latest AG research connects with practical on-farm operations.

Here’s a short promotional video for Ag Rocks for Charity (also produced by Nick – like I said, he’s a talented guy.  Help him out please!

Please consider donating – Agriculture in the Classroom is a great initiative.  Or maybe you need a vacation.  Check out this cool travel story on Todayville Red Deer.

“India? Are you nuts?” Join Gerry for Part 1 of his series on India.

 

 

 

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