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Agriculture

Ottawa launching ‘Buy Canadian’ campaign focusing on food and agriculture

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A “Buy Canadian” advertising campaign focusing on local food and the national agricultural system will be rolling out in the coming months, the federal government said Tuesday.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada officially began seeking bids for a firm to design and implement the multimillion-dollar campaign earlier this week, according to a document posted on the department’s website.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, meanwhile, issued a statement confirming the general aim of the campaign that’s expected to roll out this summer.

“We are investing $25 million to the “Buy Canadian” campaign to build consumer confidence and pride in Canada’s food producers and highlight the advantages of their products,” Bibeau said. “Consumers in Canada can be extremely proud of Canadian producers, who continue to innovate to meet the growing demand for food, while finding solutions to challenges such as environmental sustainability.”

The request for proposal, which gives interested companies until Feb. 18 to submit a pitch, indicates the government is committing to a five-year “social marketing” campaign to give Canadians a better understanding of the country’s agriculture system and educate them on what constitutes Canadian food. The successful bidder will be hired for a year ending next March, with the possibility of extending the contract for up to three more years.

The document lays out short and long-term goals for the project, stating the first priority is to raise awareness of the standards and practices at play in the Canadian agricultural sector. The intermediate goal involves making it easier for Canadians to identify domestic products, leading to the ultimate goal of urging residents to seek and identify more food, seafood and agri-food products when shopping.

The government proposes spending between $1.5 million and $4 million a year on media advertising for the campaign, which will use digital platforms as the primary means of communication.

“The campaign should tell the story of Canada’s agri-food sector and reach audiences on an emotional level in order to instill pride and confidence in the country’s food systems,” the document reads, stressing that particular effort should be made to connect with historically “under-represented groups” such as women, seniors, Indigenous Canadians and official language minority groups.

The request for proposal indicates the successful bidder will need to be mindful of provincial efforts to promote their own fresh, local offerings, but does not provide any specific guidance.

That potential conflict is one of many reasons why at least one industry observer views the government campaign with skepticism.

Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, said discussions around food have always been complex due to a fundamental tension between the two government ministries with a stake in the issue.

While Health Canada focuses on nutrition through efforts such as the recently retooled Canada’s Food Guide, Charlebois said Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has traditionally concentrated more on economic development and sector growth.

As a result, he said, conversations around Canadian food tend to focus either on health benefits or financial cost, but rarely incorporate both.

The request for proposal appears to acknowledge as much, noting that “cost and nutritional value still rank higher in consumers’ decision-making” before outlining its vision for the “Buy Canadian” campaign.

Charlebois also said that several provincial governments have run successful promotional efforts for decades, citing Foodland Ontario and Prince Edward Island’s Canada’s Food Island as notable examples.

“There’s a legacy there that needs to be recognized,” he said. “Provinces have actually been doing this for a very long time, so for the feds to come into the game of promoting local foods all of a sudden could actually create some confusion.”

But Charlebois foresees other complications as well, including a failure to clearly define what Canadian food truly means.

He said the request for proposal makes no mention of whether Canadian food processors will be included in the effort, noting such facilities also make significant contributions to the domestic economy.

Bibeau’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether provincial co-operation or processor inclusion will form part of the campaign.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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Agriculture

Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

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Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

Developments are increasingly taking over Canadian farmland. Farms once took up much of Canadian land. However, that case is not true today. Only about 5% of Canada’s land is considered prime farmland. This prime land borders one of Canada’s fastest-growing regions, and once suburban development overtakes it, Canadian farmers will have a challenging time providing food for the cities.

Farmers in Canada make their livelihood by planting, growing, harvesting and distributing food to the Canadian populations. Without land, both farmers and the rest of those living in Canada will not get fresh, Canadian grown produce.

Here are some reasons why Canadian farmers should care about land loss:

  1. Farmland Provides Food

While this is an apparent reason, it’s an essential one. Prime farmland in Canada produces food for major Canadian cities. As farmers continue to lose land, they have to rely on a smaller acreage to make the same amount of food — if not more — for the growing population.

Over the past 10 years, almost 1 million hectares of agricultural land has diminished due to development and growing populations. Agriculture continues to adapt to land loss. However, further technological advancements must first take place to grow enough produce vertically rather than horizontally.

  1. Land Preservation Will Help the Economy

Farmland preservations come with a wealth of economic benefits. Agriculture contributes to the economy through the following ways:

  • Sales: For the economy to survive, there needs to be consumer demands and sales. Almost everyone purchases produce, so there will always be a demand for those goods. Without land to grow agricultural products, no sales will be made, and the economy could suffer.
  • Job opportunities: Less than 2% of Canada’s population works in the agriculture industry. While it’s not much, that’s still over 750,000 people. Preserving farmland shows a commitment to the industry. Land loss would create job loss. However, maintaining the farmland — and even reclaiming it, along with pastures — could boost the sector and, therefore, the economy. It would provide unemployed people with job security.
  • Secondary markets: Farmers are just one part of the food business. Because of farmers and farmland, secondary markets can thrive. These would include processing businesses, restaurants, schools, grocery stores and even waste management companies.

Canadian farmers should care about land loss because standing back and allowing companies to overtake the farmland could seriously affect the economy.

  1. Farmland Benefits the Environment

Wildlife often depends upon farmland for both food and habitat. Various types of farmland create diverse habitats for many different species. Without land protection, these habitats and food sources would be destroyed, leaving many animals without a place to survive. Many would have difficulty finding a native habitat.

Additionally, growing crops helps eliminate some of the carbon dioxide released into the air. Air pollution could decrease for Canadian cities as long as no more farmland is used for development.

One major problem occurring with Canadian farmland is desertification. This happens when the soil loses nutrients and becomes barren. The urbanization of Canadian farmland is the primary contributor to desertification, which speeds up climate change and harms the environment. Keeping farmland as-is will slow down climate change.

  1. Land Loss Affects Farmers’ Jobs

Perhaps the main reason why Canadian farmers should care about land loss is because their livelihood could be taken away. If they don’t have the means to keep up with technological advancements in the agricultural industry, they will not be able to continue their jobs if they experience land loss.

Agriculture is an essential industry. Not everyone can pick up the skills needed to grow their own food, and so many people depend upon farmers for nutrition and goods.

Take a Stand to Preserve Farmland

Farmland is a worthwhile and precious resource for many people. Reduction in farmland acreage will hurt Canadian farmers and the rest of the population, the economy and the environment. Taking steps to prevent more land loss can slow the rates of destruction and keep natural habitats thriving for both humans and animalls.

Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

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.

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Agriculture

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

It’s no secret that agriculture has contributed to climate change through various means. For example, you may know that livestock generates greenhouse gas emissions due to how farms process it. That said, it’s now clear that farmers have found sustainable ways to offset those contributions. In Canada, it’s all about energy use.

Here’s how Canadian farmers have become more efficient as they raise crops and livestock, setting a standard the world should follow.

Energy Demand and Consumption Have Fluctuated

The demand for energy has increased across the agricultural sector as a whole. However, it’s key to note that farmers have begun to use less energy despite that fact. That points to more efficient practices. The farmers who complete their work productively save time, money and energy. As a result, Canadian workers have reduced their energy consumption per dollar by 17%. That’s thanks to sustainability.

The most common energy sources include fuel, gas and electricity. It’s how farmers use those resources that counts. Combined with technology choices and new practices, it’s clear that efficiency is more achievable than ever.

What Contributes to This Phenomenon?

It’s crucial for people in agriculture to explore eco-friendly alternatives. The grasslands that many western Canadian farmers cultivate contains excess carbon, so you can imagine what the country as a whole holds underneath its surface. Farmers have now adopted new methods to adjust how they harvest their crops. These systems are better for production, as well as soil and seed health overall.

The agriculture industry has gone through many changes, too. There are fewer farms — but those that still operate have employed agricultural technology to be as efficient as possible. These tools include different equipment that cuts down on time to increase proficiency. Plus, it’s now more common to use solar power as an alternative to traditional energy solutions.

Why Accuracy and Precision Matters

It’s a lot easier to be energy efficient when you don’t waste your resources. The means farmers practiced before they used specific innovations often created a time deficit. If you have a smaller machine, you likely need to do twice as much work. However, when you have access to equipment that fits your field, you don’t have to be as wasteful. The accuracy and precision created by technology make this a reality.

Soil Conservation Is Led by Ranchers

Many farmers have looked to ranchers for help. It’s a native part of ranching to preserve topsoil and other elements that are inherently sustainable. As a result, it seems like ranchers have been leading the charge against climate change for decades. The tactics they use to avoid tilling soil, for example, help preserve the amount of carbon that lies underneath the Earth’s surface.

The “no-till” practice is efficient in its own right. Rather than till your soil to plant a new crop, you simply leave behind what’s already there. This method is much better for soil nutrition, and it can keep carbon exposure at bay. As a result, you have much fewer carbon emissions. In general, the idea of soil conservation isn’t a new one, but old tricks can still work alongside modern technology.

The Future of Agriculture in Canada Looks Bright

If farmers continue on this path, it’ll be clear that climate solutions are at the forefront of their minds. These efforts create more benefits for them as they save time and money. Plus, there’s always the responsibility of maintaining the planet’s health. After all, without a strong ecosystem, agriculture would suffer. Through means that are more accurate and conservative, Canadian farmers have been able to become more efficient. Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

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.

 

 

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