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Agriculture

Big hail, strong wind, cream lucrative southern Alberta corn crop

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TABER, Alta. — Taber corn, that tasty sweet treat on the cob that Albertans look forward to in late summer, will be much harder to find this year after a major storm ripped through the province’s southern corn belt this week.

Loonie and golf ball-size hailstones driven by a wind that reached more than 140 km/h tore into an area Tuesday evening that included the communities of Taber and Barnwell.

The fast-moving system wiped out several fields of corn, which some producers say had stood about two metres tall before the disaster struck.

Numerous buildings and trees were also damaged and in one instance nearly all the vinyl siding on a wall of a Mennonite church in Barnwell was stripped off.

Grower James Molnar says Taber corn is typically available for about 50 days, but the storm has prematurely ended the season.

He says what had already been harvested will likely be quickly snapped up.

“It’s done. There won’t be another dozen picked,” said Molnar. “One side is OK on the cob, the other side is just like you put it on a cement floor and rolled it and it turned into cream corn.”

Molnar said when he checked his property, he found stalks slashed and beaten to no more than 10 to 60 cm in height — a complete loss.

He said down the road at Johnson Fresh Farms, considered the biggest corn grower in the area, the loss is estimated at 90 to 95 per cent.

Molnar Taber Corn and Pumpkins supplies both vegetables to Safeway and Sobeys stores in Lethbridge, as well as 20 grocery stores in Calgary.

The family also grows squash, cabbages, peppers, tomatoes and onions, but nearly all of those crops have been lost as well.

“We have insurance, but it basically comes up probably 15 to 20 per cent short of our costs,” said Molnar, who asks that people pray for the farmers in the area. (LethbridgeNewsNOW, CFFR)

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Agriculture

Olymel temporarily closes due to COVID-19

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This is a news release from Olymel L.P.

Olymel announces the temporary closing of its Red Deer plant

Olymel management is announcing the temporary closing of its hog slaughtering, cutting and deboning plant in Red Deer, Alberta. Despite the testing protocols and sanitary measures already in place, as well as the close collaboration of Alberta Health Services to deal with a resurgence of positive cases of Covid-19 among plant employees, Olymel management believes that the conditions are no longer assembled to continue normal operations in a safe and efficient manner.

After notifying the union, Olymel management drew up an orderly temporary closing plan for an indefinite period. Over the next few days, plant management will mobilize the staff necessary to cease operations and complete the facility closure as soon as possible. The sanitary measures will continue to be in effect at the plant during the shutdown and Olymel management will be in contact with officials at Alberta Health Services to continue working closely with this organization.

Olymel sincerely hopes that all employees at the Red Deer plant who have tested positive for Covid-19 soon regain their health. The company will follow up with all employees to ensure their quarantine period is being respected and will strongly encourage all staff to get tested before returning to work. Olymel will also continue ongoing investigations to determine what may have caused such a large outbreak of Covid-19 cases since January 20.

Olymel management has also informed all hog suppliers of the Red Deer plant of the situation and has suspended all pending deliveries until further notice.

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Agriculture

What’s going on in India?

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In many places around the world, the global turmoil of 2020 has been deeply exacerbated by accompanying political violence. The United States, Belarus, and India are just a few locations that have faced growing levels of internal violence and discord as political protests have led to dangerous clashes between citizens and governing bodies. 

In India, where the COVID-19 pandemic has been rampant throughout the course of 2020, citizens have also experienced ongoing political uncertainty as recent protests against the Narendra Modi government have been met with violence. 

Prime Minister Narenda Modi

The upheaval began in August in response to the Modi government’s decision to pass 3 reform laws that would negatively impact local farmers in India’s agricultural sector. The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Bill, the Farmers Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and the Essential Commodities Bill were passed on September 20, 2020. These laws, which were allegedly hurried through parliament with little to no regard for the concerns expressed by existing farming organizations in India, serve to ease corporate restrictions and remove regulations put in place to protect farmers and their product. 

Although there does appear to be a consensus surrounding the need for reform in India’s agricultural sector, the laws passed by the Modi government have been condemned for failing to meet the requirements of a fair, legitimate transition. According to Time, “While the government says the new laws will “empower farmers”, unions say the rule changes are not policies they have asked for. Instead they fear that instead of trying to help farmers, the government is opening the door to big corporations who may eventually force them off their land and out of their business.” 

Peaceful protests then emerged as a public response to the actions of the Modi government. The protests, which originated in Punjab and Haryana as a collaborative movement among Indian farmers, have since mobilized tens of thousands of farmers and supporters from across the country to march on the Indian capital. The protestors flooded New Delhi’s main entry points, where they have since set up camps to maintain their position and stand firmly for their cause, requesting the repeal of the 3 reform bills. 

Despite the peaceful nature of the protests, where many of the participants are senior members of the community, since September they have been increasingly met with violence from the state. “Protestors have been met with water cannons on some of the coldest winter days Delhi has experienced,” Global News reported in December, “along with tear gas, concrete barricades, and some were even beaten with batons.” As a result of state-mandated violence and harsh outdoor conditions in Delhi, a total of 65 deaths were reported between November 26, 2020 and January 3, 2021 (1).
Individuals and organizations around the world have since come forward to stand in solidarity with Indian farmers and condemn the acts of violence being perpetrated against them by military and law enforcement. 

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Indian Supreme Court announced it was “halting the market-friendly laws until a committee of experts, appointed by the court, could consult with government officials and protesting farmers to try to find a solution to the dispute” (2). However, protestors have expressed initial skepticism following this announcement, and intend to maintain their positions within the protest camps until the laws are repealed. 

“It’s cold and it’s hard to arrange water every morning for a bath,” says Shabek Singh, a member of the protests who remains camped in one of the established tent cities, “but we’re not going anywhere. We will make this our temple” (3).

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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