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Agriculture

Anti-meat Weather Network video ‘doesn’t reflect the true story’: meat industry

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A meat industry association has demanded the Weather Network remove a video from its website that urges Canadians to consume less red meat, the latest front in the farmers’ fight against negative publicity for animal products amid a consumer push toward plant-based protein alternatives.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association met with the network’s executives Monday night to address concerns about the video’s message, primarily claims that cows require more resources than other, smaller animals and produce 20 times more greenhouse gas than certain plants.

The Weather Network-produced video, which suggests people should cut back by about 1.5 burgers a week, highlights a recent report from the World Resources Institute, the United Nations and other partners on how the world can prepare to feed a 10-billion population by 2050.

The video “doesn’t reflect the true story,” Jill Harvie, public and stakeholder engagement manager with The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), said in an interview.

The group disputes the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet, saying beef production in Canada makes a positive contribution to the environment through maintaining grassland and sequestering carbon.

The Canadian beef industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are among the lowest in the world, she added.

“We’d hoped that the video would come down and would be essentially replaced with something that was more reflective of the Canadian context.”

Estimates that suggest beef production is only a small contributor to emissions tend to leave out the impact of cutting down forests and other land use, according to the WRI website. It does note that the emission intensity of Canada’s beef production is lower than in much of South America, Africa and Asia, according to 2013 figures.

The two parties agreed to engage in sharing information, said Harvie, adding the network appeared open to future collaboration.

However, the video remained posted on the website as of Tuesday. It did not appear to have any changes made to it.

The Weather Network, which is owned by Pelmorex Corp., declined an interview request and did not answer questions over email, but sent a prepared statement that said it “will not actively advise people on their food consumption choices.”

It also appeared to acknowledge the video may have missed the mark.

“The purpose of this article was merely to focus on sustainability and upon further review, we determined that our video and post did not reflect our intention,” the network’s statement read.

The video’s narrative plays into an ongoing push by policy-makers and plant protein producers to sell consumers on the environmental and health benefits of swapping steaks for soybeans.

Cattle producers earlier this year took on plant-based protein giant and stock-market darling Beyond Meat, which makes the popular Beyond Meat burgers that have been added to restaurant menus across Canada in recent months.

The Quebec Cattle Producers Federation filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency saying the California-based company’s advertising is misleading and contravenes Canadian rules, arguing it shouldn’t be allowed to use the word “meat” for its vegan products.

Meanwhile, the animal products industry is also facing pressure from health officials amid new dietary trends.

In January, Health Canada unveiled a new food guide — the first overhaul in a decade — and encouraged plant-based food consumption over meat and dairy products. It suggests people choose proteins that come from plants, like beans, more often, and to make water their drink of choice — to the chagrin of the politically active dairy industry.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer jumped in to defend the dietary importance of milk earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, promising the farmers that, if elected prime minister, he would “review” the food guide.

In the wake of the new guidelines, the animal products industry is fighting hard to defend its turf.

In the lead up to the food guide’s release, meat and dairy lobby groups attempted to sell the public on the merits of the food they produce. A Dairy Farmers of Canada spokeswoman said “it would be a disservice to the Canadian population” to eliminate the food guide’s milk and alternative product’s category, while the Canadian Meat Council said proposed recommendations won’t help consumers because they’re too general.

The Turkey Farmers of Canada launched a national five-year, $25-million marketing campaign in May — its first since 2004. The campaign had been in the works for about two years, when the association noted turkey sales had plateaued.

But the release of the new food guide has protein producers competing even more aggressively for their share of Canadians’ plates.

The CCA’s Harvie, meanwhile, recognizes that beef producers needs to keep Canadians abreast of what’s happening in the industry and on its farms as the sociopolitical winds shift away from meat.

“It is really important to share the story behind our food, and more and more we’re going to have to do that.”

 

Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

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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.

 

 

How Canadian Dairy Farms Can Adjust to New Dairy Demand

 

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Agriculture

How Canadian Dairy Farms Can Adjust to New Dairy Demand

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How Canadian Dairy Farms Can Adjust to New Dairy Demand

Many changes occurred around the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Canada, while schools and businesses closed, consumers flocked to the supermarkets to buy essentials.

Perishable goods flew off the shelves, resulting in limits being placed on items like dairy and poultry. The standard distribution system schedule put in place for dairy products could not keep up with buyers’ increased shopping.

While retail demand from grocers skyrocketed, orders from the foodservice industry plummeted. This has resulted in unforeseen fluctuations in the dairy market.

Hotels, restaurants, schools and eateries are closed or operating at limited capacity. As a result, there is now an enormous surplus of milk that has nowhere to go. Farmers are not equipped with storage spaces to accommodate the excess supply. Unlike agriculture products like potatoes, milk has to be sold immediately or risk spoilage.

Cows will continue producing milk, regardless of fluctuations in the market. While farmers have the option to reduce the size of their herd or change diet or nutrition, these things could prove detrimental when the market stabilizes.

The Supply Management System

A supply management system controls production quotas and imports for Canadian dairy, chicken, turkey and eggs. It was established in the1970s to coordinate production and demand while simultaneously controlling imports. By operating under this method, prices are stabilized for both producers and consumers.

A national agency represents each industry, and they are in charge of setting production levels that match provincial demand. Farmers in each province are allocated production quotas that are meant to prevent surpluses or shortages.

The original quotas were based on consumer needs pre-pandemic. As a result of these unforeseen events, farmers must now adjust to the new Canadian dairy demand. Here are four main ways farmers can adapt to the changing times.

  1. Dump the Milk

Producers say that discarding raw milk is inevitable at this stage. Farmers are reporting that they have been asked to take turns dumping milk. Although they’re paid for it, the waste could amount to as much as 5 million litres every week.

This disposal method is unsustainable and should only be utilized while the market is above capacity. Cows must continue to be milked to keep them comfortable and healthy, and production must continue to ensure product availability in retail stores.

  1. Donate to Food Banks

Rather than dumping milk, some farmers have begun donating to food banks to support Canadians in need. While this is a positive form of dispersing the milk surplus, it has the potential to overwhelm food banks that may not have the storage capacity to support this influx.

Additionally, the raw milk provided from farmers must be processed, which complicates the standard donation process.

  1. Improve Operations

Dairy farmers should focus on improving operations to become more efficient and cost-effective. Many producers have begun investing in updated equipment and robotics to save time and money.  Competition is set to increase as a result of import growth projected for the next decade. To maintain a market edge, operations should be improved and simplified wherever possible.

  1. Expand or Retire

In 2019, the Canadian federal government announced an aid package valued at $1.75 billion to compensate supply-managed dairy producers over an eight-year period. The Dairy Direct Payment Program is one part of this aid package and provides $345 million payments as compensation during 2019 and 2020.

The aid package was proposed as a result of import shifts. The Canadian government has opened part of its domestic market to foreign producers as part of several free-trade negotiations. To adapt to increased competition from foreign products, Canadian producers should plan to expand their operations or retire. Larger farms will be able to sustain demand while simultaneously upgrading their methods to be constantly improving.

Smaller producers may not be able to afford the necessary production updates to keep up with competitors.

Future Demand

These are unprecedented circumstances. As schools, businesses and restaurants reopen, dairy demand will increase. With indoor capacity requirements and shifts in consumer trends, consumption levels will undoubtedly continue to fluctuate.

While farmers should take steps to dispose of surplus responsibly, they should not halt production or decrease their operation size.

Read more from 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.  You can read more of my work by clicking this link: Conservation Folks.

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

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