Experience Alberta Agriculture with Open Farm Days 2020
Open Farm Days returns to Alberta this Saturday and Sunday for its 8thannual provincial agriculture event. Hosted by the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies in partnership with the province and Travel Alberta, Alberta Open Farm Days is an invitation from farmers, ranchers and brewers across the province for locals to come experience a day in agriculture.
Alberta is home to 31.3% of the total farmland across Canada, and the Alberta agriculture industry employs more than 50,000 people throughout the province. On August 15 & 16, Albertans will have the opportunity to meet those responsible for putting food on their table, while exploring Alberta’s agricultural roots and how they inform daily life across the province and the country.
Visitors can explore everything from produce, meat and dairy production, to the machinery and technology behind planting and harvesting crops, to what goes into their favorite local beers. Open Farm Days gives locals the chance to learn about and experience first-hand the processes that provide them with the products they rely on.
Every year, thousands of people province-wide venture outside of city limits to take part in Open Farm days. This year, 75 farms from Grand Prairie to Lethbridge will be participating, offering activities, demonstrations, tours and hands-on experiences for all ages. “It’s a great opportunity for people who are not familiar with farming to connect the dots between local agriculture and their products,” says Nicola Doherty, Marketing Coordinator for the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, “it really fosters an appreciation for all the products grown and produced here in Alberta.”
Along with promoting agricultural education and awareness, Open Farm Days also increases support for Farm to Table and Support Local initiatives by allowing people the opportunity to experience local products straight from the farm. “People are often shocked by the amount of work that goes into these products,” says Doherty, “for farmers, this is their every day – but for non-farm folk, they are in awe.”
In order to operate safely within provincial guidelines, Open Farm Days will look a little different this year. To remain in compliance with COVID-19 regulations and ensure proper social distancing, Alberta Open Farm Days has transitioned to scheduled visit times for this year’s event. Learn how to schedule your visit here.
This weekend, take the opportunity to escape the city and do something different – spend the day on a farm! Visitors are encouraged to bring cash, a cooler and dress for the weather.
For more information on Alberta Farm Days 2020, visit https://albertafarmdays.ca.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
House passes bill creating carve-outs for farmers in Canada’s carbon pricing scheme
A field of wheat is pictured near Cremona, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By David Fraser in Ottawa
A private member’s bill that would create specific carve-outs for farmers in Canada’s carbon pricing scheme has passed in the House of Commons.
The bill would exempt farmers from paying for emissions from natural gas and propane they use for certain activities performed on their farms, such as drying grain, preparing feed, irrigating and heating barns.
It passed with the support of Conservative, NDP, Bloc Québécois and Green Party MPs, with a few Liberals, including agriculture committee chair Kody Blois, joining the opposition parties to vote in favour.
The private member’s bill introduced by Conservative MP Ben Lobb in February 2022, which would not exempt farmers from the carbon price for activities performed off-site, will now be debated in the Senate.
Farmer groups have said they are facing rising production costs, and the proposed law would give them critical financial relief from rising costs.
The Agriculture Carbon Alliance, which was created by industry groups in 2021 in response to the federal Liberals’ climate policies and advocates for sustainable farming, celebrated the bill’s progress on Thursday.
“This legislation will provide farmers with the resources to invest in innovative and sustainable on-farm practices, while ensuring the stability of our food supply,” said Dave Carey, the group’s co-chair, in a statement.
The executive director of one of its members, the Grain Growers of Canada, said the law will offer significant relief if it is passed.
“As long as we don’t have an alternative to fossil fuels, then there is no sense in punishing Canadian farmers for growing food,” Erin Gowriluk said.
Not all are celebrating the law’s advancement, however.
Tim Gray, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence, said the law would weaken the government’s response to climate change.
“Exempting these high-emission activities from carbon pricing for farmers will only further encourage other sectors to demand similar treatment,” he said in a statement.
“This is already a problem as many industries, especially the oil and gas sector, have successfully lobbied for, and achieved, favourable treatment, which allows them to pay a much lower carbon price than others, regardless of their lack of actual degree of being energy intensive and trade exposed.”
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau maintains that the federal government is helping farmers reduce their carbon footprints and ease financial burdens through a $3.5-billion sustainable agricultural partnership with provinces.
The federal carbon price already features an exemption for gasoline and light fuel oil costs used in tractors and trailers.
But farm groups have long contended that further exemptions are needed, and have at times disputed the federal government’s characterization of how much the carbon price is costing producers, especially when it comes to drying grain. Grain must be dried before it can be stored and sold, particularly during wet harvests.
The bill that will now be debated in the Senate would only carve out exemptions for farmers who dry grain on their properties, and would not apply to off-farm activities. The law also includes a sunset clause that would allow a government to add, remove or renew the exemptions in eight years.
A previous bill introduced by a Conservative MP and widely supported by farm groups, which would have carved out similar exemptions, died on the order paper prior to the 2021 federal election.
Bibeau responded to farmers’ concerns at the time by announcing dollars to help producers make their own grain-drying operations more environmentally sustainable.
The federal government says it is now spending $37.1 million on 99 grain drying projects as part of its $495.7 million Agricultural Clean Technology program.
Gowriluk said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had an impact on the way that federal politicians discuss agricultural policy, arguing that the conversation to focus on what Canada can do to help internationally.
A significant part of that is to “grow as much as we possibly can,” she said.
“There’s an increasing recognition from Canadian politicians that this isn’t easy, and if there’s anything they can do to alleviate the burden, and help keep farmers in the green rather than the red, then they’re prepared to step up and do that.”
Though it is rare for private member’s bills to make it all the way through Parliament, minority government situations can create more collaboration between parties.
A second private member’s bill focused on the Liberals’ climate policy passed in the House of Commons during the same sitting this week, with support from Liberal MPs and ministers.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May proposed the law, which would require the government to develop a national strategy to address environmental racism within two years of its passage.
A previous version of the bill, introduced by former Liberal MP Lenore Zann, also died on the order paper in 2021 prior to the election.
May acknowledged this week during debate about the bill that the law will require the government to play ball.
“It will then need to have the support from the government of the day and the support of the finance minister to fund the programs, so that communities of colour, Indigenous communities and poor communities are not left without access to environmental justice,” she told MPs.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.
11 states consider ‘right to repair’ for farming equipment
By Jesse Bedayn in Denver
DENVER (AP) — On Colorado’s northeastern plains, where the pencil-straight horizon divides golden fields and blue sky, a farmer named Danny Wood scrambles to plant and harvest proso millet, dryland corn and winter wheat in short, seasonal windows. That is until his high-tech Steiger 370 tractor conks out.
The tractor’s manufacturer doesn’t allow Wood to make certain fixes himself, and last spring his fertilizing operations were stalled for three days before the servicer arrived to add a few lines of missing computer code for $950.
“That’s where they have us over the barrel, it’s more like we are renting it than buying it,” said Wood, who spent $300,000 on the used tractor.
Wood’s plight, echoed by farmers across the country, has pushed lawmakers in Colorado and 10 other states to introduce bills that would force manufacturers to provide the tools, software, parts and manuals needed for farmers to do their own repairs — thereby avoiding steep labor costs and delays that imperil profits.
“The manufacturers and the dealers have a monopoly on that repair market because it’s lucrative,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, a Democrat and one of the bill’s sponsors. “(Farmers) just want to get their machine going again.”
In Colorado, the legislation is largely being pushed by Democrats while their Republican colleagues find themselves stuck in a tough spot: torn between right-leaning farming constituents asking to be able to repair their own machines and the manufacturing businesses that oppose the idea.
The manufacturers argue that changing the current practice with this type of legislation would force companies to expose trade secrets. They also say it would make it easier for farmers to tinker with the software and illegally crank up the horsepower and bypass the emissions controller — risking operators’ safety and the environment.
Similar arguments around intellectual property have been leveled against the broader campaign called ‘right to repair,’ which has picked up steam across the country — crusading for the right to fix everything from iPhones to hospital ventilatorsduring the pandemic.
In 2011, Congress passed a law ensuring that car owners and independent mechanics — not just authorized dealerships — had access to the necessary tools and information to fix problems.
Ten years later, the Federal Trade Commission pledged to beef up its right to repair enforcement at the direction of President Joe Biden. And just last year, Titone sponsored and passed Colorado’s first right to repair law, empowering people who use wheelchairs with the tools and information to fix them.
For the right to repair farm equipment — from thin tractors used between grape vines to behemoth combines for harvesting grain that can cost over half a million dollars — Colorado is joined by 10 states including Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and Vermont.
Many of the bills are finding bipartisan support, said Nathan Proctor, who leads Public Interest Research Group’s national right to repair campaign. But in Colorado’s House committee on agriculture, Democrats pushed the bill forward in a 9-4 vote along party lines, with Republicans in opposition even though the bill’s second sponsor is Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg.
“That’s really surprising, and that upset me,” said the Republican Wood.
Wood’s tractor, which flies an American flag reading “Farmers First,” isn’t his only machine to break down. His grain harvesting combine was dropping into idle, but the servicer took five days to arrive on Wood’s farm — a setback that could mean a hail storm decimates a wheat field or the soil temperature moves beyond the Goldilocks zone for planting.
“Our crop is ready to harvest and we can’t wait five days, but there was nothing else to do,” said Wood. “When it’s broke down you just sit there and wait and that’s not acceptable. You can be losing $85,000 a day.”
Rep. Richard Holtorf, the Republican who represents Wood’s district and is a farmer himself, said he’s being pulled between his constituents and the dealerships in his district covering the largely rural northeast corner of the state. He voted against the measure because he believes it will financially impact local dealerships in rural areas and could jeopardize trade secrets.
“I do sympathize with my farmers,” said Holtorf, but he added, “I don’t think it’s the role of government to be forcing the sale of their intellectual property.”
At the packed hearing last week that spilled into a second room in Colorado’s Capitol, the core concerns raised in testimony were farmers illegally slipping around the emissions control and cranking up the horsepower.
“I know growers, if they can change horsepower and they can change emissions they are going to do it,” said Russ Ball, sales manager at 21st Century Equipment, a John Deere dealership in Western states.
The bill’s proponents acknowledged that the legislation could make it easier for operators to modify horsepower and emissions controls, but argued that farmers are already able to tinker with their machines and doing so would remain illegal.
This January, the Farm Bureau and the farm equipment manufacturer John Deere did sign a memorandum of understanding — a right to repair agreement made in the free market and without government intervention. The agreement stipulates that John Deere will share some parts, diagnostic and repair codes, and manuals to allow farmers to do their own fixes.
The Colorado bill’s detractors laud that agreement as a strong middle ground while Titone said it wasn’t enough, evidenced by six of Colorado’s biggest farmworker associations that support the bill.
Proctor, who is tracking 20 right to repair proposals in a number of industries across the country, said the memorandum of understanding has fallen far short.
“Farmers are saying no,” Proctor said. “We want the real thing.”
Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Funeral for two Edmonton police officers shot and killed responding to family dispute
Slain officers’ families issue statements thanking public for support
Canada argues court misconstrued Charter in directing feds to bring men in Syria home
Anti-government protesters in Kenya march in Nairobi streets
Troubled Silicon Valley Bank acquired by First Citizens
Statements from the family members of Constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan
N.S. RCMP warn public of dangerous woman with handgun in Sipekne’katik First Nation
National2 days ago
Key recommendations of Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry
Top Story CP2 days ago
Ex-priest, 93, acquitted of assaulting girl at residential school decades ago
Alberta2 days ago
UCP candidate, slammed for comments on pornography in schools, quits
conflict2 days ago
Russia arrests Wall Street Journal reporter on spying charge
Top Story CP2 days ago
Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry identifies many RCMP failings, recommends overhaul
RCMP2 days ago
Concerns raised over recommendation to phaseout RCMP police training Depot in Regina
Alberta1 day ago
McDavid enters history books, Skinner shines as Oilers top Kings 2-0
Indigenous2 days ago
Vatican rejects Doctrine of Discovery, a move Indigenous people have long urged