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Agriculture

Alberta needs to fill agriculture jobs, amid a Covid- 19 created foreign worker shortage

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Albertans out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, have a new resource to find a work in the province’s essential agriculture businesses and companies that make-up the food supply chain.

“There are great job opportunities on Alberta farms and ranches.” Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry announced at the Alberta Legislature as the government launched a new web-based support page called, Agriculture Job Connector. Dreeshen added, “this new website will help Albertans find an exciting new job in this essential service.”

A pork farm worker in an open sow housing unit in Alberta. Photo Courtesy/Maple Leaf Foods

Alberta is not the only jurisdiction in Canada and around the world that is having problems filling farm and food supply chain jobs.

In the United Kingdom, due to temporary farm worker restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers have been scrambling to find workers so the crops can get planted and to stop crops from rutting on the trees or in the fields. Britons, usually make up only one percent of the temporary farm workforce. Citizens have responded to calls for a “new land army” to help fill the farm and food chain jobs. Up to 70,000 workers are needed. People looking for work have flocked to websites, searches for terms including “fruit picker” or “farm worker” surged by 338% and 107% respectively, with applications up 83% in the last month.

Alberta’s beekeeping industry and honey producers depend on temporary foreign workers during the busy season. Photo Courtesy/Alberta Beekeeper Commission

Family farms and companies throughout Alberta’s food supply chain rely on the “federal temporary foreign workers (TFW) program” to hire seasonal and full-time jobs that Albertans do not historical fill. Although the federal government recently announced loosing some of the TFW rules, the industry is nervous about a worker shortfall.  The coronavirus’ on-going world-wide travel restrictions, along with a mandatory 14-day quarantine, once a foreign worker arrives,  has raised serious concerns about a possible pending foreign worker shortage.

During this pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is working to reinforce that the, ‘agriculture and agri-food industry has never been more critical to the health and safety of Albertans and to our economy.’ Dreeshen added, “Thank-you to all who continue to work that keep our food supply safe.”

A combine works a field of wheat in Alberta. Photo Courtesy/Alberta Wheat Commission

Alberta’s Agriculture Job Connector has opportunities for both skilled and non-skilled workers. Some posted job openings are for one person, others need up to as many as 50 new hires. Job openings in Alberta can be found through these links, Alberta Alis, AgCareers.com, Career in Foods, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and Grasslands Recruitment Specialists. A sampling of some of the openings in Alberta, with the offer salaries can be found through the  links below.

A woman works at a beef cattle operation in Alberta.

Some of the jobs open in Alberta from the links above;

Click here to read more on Todayville Edmonton.

Agriculture

USAID head urges crisis-hit Sri Lanka to tackle corruption

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By Krishan Francis in Colombo

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A visiting U.S. diplomat on Sunday urged Sri Lankan authorities to tackle corruption and introduce governance reforms alongside efforts to uplift the country’s economy as a way out of its worst crisis in recent memory.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power told reporters that such moves will increase international and local trust in the government’s intentions.

“Assistance alone would not put an end to this country’s woes,” Power said. “I stressed to the Sri Lankan president in my meeting earlier today that political reforms and political accountability must go hand in hand with economic reforms and economic accountability.”

She said that international investor confidence will increase as the government tackles corruption and proceeds with long sought governance reforms. “As citizens see the government visibly following through on the commitment to bring about meaningful change, that in turn increases societal support for the tough economic reforms ahead,” she said.

During her two-day visit, Power announced a total of $60 million in aid to Sri Lanka. After meetings with farmers’ representatives at a rice field in Ja-Ela, outside of the capital Colombo on Saturday, she announced $40 million to buy agrochemicals in time for the next cultivation season.

Agricultural yields dropped by more than half for the past two cultivation seasons because authorities had banned the imports of chemical fertilizers ostensibly to promote organic farming. She said that according to the World Food Program, more than 6 million people — nearly 30% of Sri Lanka’s population — are currently facing food insecurity and require humanitarian assistance.

On Sunday, she said an additional $20 million will be given to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families.

Sri Lanka has faced its worst crisis after it defaulted on foreign loans, causing shortages of essentials like fuel, medicines and some food items.

It has reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a $2.9 billion package to be disbursed over four years. However, the program hinges on Sri Lanka’s international creditors giving assurances on loan restructuring. Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt is more than $51 billion of which $28 billion must be repaid by 2027.

Power said that the U.S. stands ready to assist with debt restructuring and reiterated that it is imperative that China, one of the island nation’s bigger creditors, cooperate in this endeavor.

Infrastructure like a seaport, airport and a network of highways built with Chinese funding did not earn revenue and are partly blamed for the country’s woes.

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Agriculture

Saskatchewan warns that federal employees testing farmers’ dugouts for nitrogen levels could be arrested for trespassing

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An escalating battle between Western Premiers and the federal government over restricting the use of nitrogen fertilizer has reached a new level of tension.
Premier Scott Moe is demanding to know why federal employees of Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault are “trespassing” on private land in Saskatchewan.  Moe signed a strongly worded letter (below) from Jeremy Cockrill, the Minister in charge of Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency.
The letter dated Sunday, August 21st states farmers from at least 3 different communities in southern Saskatchewan have reported Government of Canada employees in marked vehicles have been trespassing on their private land.  When confronted, the agents have admitted to testing dugouts for nitrogen levels.
On his official Facebook page Moe says “We are demanding an explanation from federal Minister Guilbeault on why his department is trespassing on private land without the owners’ permission to take water samples from dugouts.”
We are demanding an explanation from federal Minister Steven Guilbeault on why his department is trespassing on private land without the owners’ permission to take water samples from dugouts. We have received reports of this occurring in several places throughout our province.
We have advised the federal government that this should cease immediately and if it does not, it will be considered a violation of the province’s Trespass Act.
Violating this Act is serious, including a maximum penalty of $25,000 for repeat offenders, up to six months imprisonment following a conviction for a first or subsequent trespass offence, and a $200,000 maximum penalty for any corporation that counsels and/or aids in the commission of that offence.
Anyone wishing to report an incident of trespassing on private land can call 1-855-559-5502
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has already flatly said no thanks to a federal initiative to restrict the use of fertilizer by up to 30%.
Premier Moe is not alone in this battle with Ottawa.  Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney has already weighed in on the nitrogen restrictions in this strongly worded video shared two weeks ago.

The letter from Saskatchewan comes on the heals of another strongly worded letter from Manitoba’s Agriculture Minister Heather Stefanson. In Stephanson’s letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, she says this is no time to cut food supply and raise the price of groceries.
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