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Agriculture

How would you like it if someone came on to your land to build a pipeline?

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How would you like it if someone came on to your land to build a pipeline?

This is one of the questions you’ve no doubt heard in the media lately.  A common question from protestors and their supporters. It’s been posed to media reporters asking protestors why they’re trying to shut down Canada.  It’s been used as a headline for editorials in big newspapers.  If you live in a city or even a small community you’ve never had to deal with a company that wants to build a pipeline on your property.  That seems to make this question a good one.

However I come from a farming community and it occurred to me that I might just know some people who’ve had experience with pipeline companies.   So I decided to message a friend of mine.  He used to be a pretty good hockey player when we were growing up.  He played with a temper.   Years may have passed but I know he’s definitely no push over.  Devon is not the kind of guy who’d let anyone walk all over him.  Even a big pipeline company.

Turns out Devon actually has lots of experience with pipelines.  When he moved onto his acreage 20 years ago there were already 5 lines running under it.  2 more lines have been buried since.  The last one came through just last year.  If you look at the first map you can see a place called Herschel.   Herschel is Devon’s territory.   The map shows where Enbridge Line 3 Replacement cut through his property just last year.  The second map shows just how many lines are following that same route.

When I discovered a new line had been put down in the last year I thought he’d have some fresh memories of how that affected his life.  It was my chance to ask someone who actually knows “How would you like it if someone came on your land to build a pipeline?”

Me: “What happens during construction?”

Devon: “The only inconvenience during pipeline construction for us has been delays on the roads. They haven’t affected our home lives at all.”

Me: “What about animals?  How long before things get back to normal in their world?”

Devon: “Wildlife doesn’t seem bothered at all.”   Then he asked me “What’s normal?” – and he sent me a video taken right in his yard last summer.  

Posted by Devon Brown on Sunday, 9 June 2019

Me: “OK.  The animals appear not to mind.  Does it affect the quality of your land?”

Devon: “We don’t farm the affected land, but Enbridge recovers the top soil and replants whatever vegetation you want.  In our case, grass.”

Me: “What would happen to you if there was a spill on your property?”

Devon: “We have never had a spill, or know of anyone that has.  They have given us contact information, and instruction if we ever encounter what we feel may be a spill.  Several times a week they fly (over) the pipeline inspecting it.

Me: “Are you fairly compensated?”

Devon: “We have been treated very fairly by Enbridge.”

I have to admit I was hoping for even a tiny bit of drama in this back and forth conversation.   Just like you would with any conversation.  So I put my reporter skills to work and decided to finish by asking an “emotional” question.  Certainly there has to be even a little bit of anxiety over having a pipeline carrying flammable material close to your home… right under your own property.  Everyone knows there have been accidents.  So the natural question is..

Me: “Wouldn’t you rather there were no pipelines under your land and close to your home?

Devon: “I was actually disappointed when they told us the line 6 replacement was being routed around our acreage because they felt it would be too close to the house.  I actually have never thought about whether I would rather live where there’s no pipelines.  They’ve never been an issue.”

If I had to conclude this and I do, I would say that it would seem my friend Devon is one of the vast majority of people who pay some type of price for the conveniences of modern society.  In his case it’s doesn’t seem the price is very high.  Maybe he thinks the compensation is actually worth it.  No.  He’s never experienced an accident.  He doesn’t know of anyone who even knows anyone who has.  Like the rest of us, he only knows they’ve happened because he pays attention to the news.  The only real difference is Devon actually has a half dozen pipelines running across his property.  As you can see from the second map above, the energy running through them keeps people in the Eastern United States and Eastern Canada, warm in their homes and mobile in their vehicles.

Here’s what pipelines look like for the vast majority of those who have to live with them.  In Devon’s case, 20 years of living with pipelines and zero problems.  He’s not going to claim nothing could ever happen.  All he can say is that nothing has ever happened.

 

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Ag meets Food

Canadian Federation of Agriculture Awarded $560,000 for Single Portal Sustainability Sourcing

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Canadian Federation of Agriculture Awarded $560,000 for Single Portal Sustainability Sourcing

Green certifications have become increasingly important in the food industry, as consumers look for confirmation that their food is being produced and processed in an environmentally friendly manner. In Canada, there has been a recent movement of concerned consumers looking for more transparency within the food industry. Organizations like Food Secure Canada advocate for a better food system that improves the connection between health, sustainability and agriculture.

In February 2020, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food stated that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture would invest in a new sustainability initiative. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the largest farm organization in Canada, representing over 200,000 farms. The organization has played a critical role in advancing environmental sustainability practices within the food industry.

The Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative (CASI) will work with farmers, manufacturers, food processors and retailers to improve transparency in the Canadian food system. The initiative will promote sustainability through an integrated process that depends on data and collaboration to transform the food industry and improve relations with consumers.

The Canadian Food System

Canada is one of the top five exporters of food in the world. The Canadian agriculture and agri-food system generates over $100 billion in sales annually and employs over 2 million people. The agricultural food system is a significant player in Canada’s economic wealth and stability. However, like other large agricultural exporters — such as the United States — Canada has faced recent scrutiny over their production practices. Many large-scale and industrialized agriculture productions are harmful to the environment and detrimental to human health.

With such a large proportion of Canadian food exported, many domestic consumers distrust the public policies that lack transparency over the industry’s environmental impact and unsafe production practices. With the creation of the Candian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative, the federal government hopes to facilitate improved sustainability throughout the food industry.

The Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative

The Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative includes a federal investment of $560,000. These funds will go toward the creation of an online forum that advances the analytic capabilities of producers and farmers. By creating a new network around sustainability, the project hopes to track the progress of sustainable practices in the Canadian food industry.

The initiative will also help producers and processors work together to certify products with sustainability labels that consumers are looking for. The Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative will rely on data analytics and real-time analysis of food production and processing to find solutions to unsustainable issues. From a consumer standpoint, it will increase trust in the use of food labels and regulate claims regarding the quality of various products.

Sustainability in the Agri-Food Industry

Canada’s agricultural system relies on the production of corn, potatoes, soybeans and commodity grains like wheat. Western parts of Canada have a higher production of beef, while the Eastern side focuses more on poultry. Unlike other top food exporters, Canada has been steadily growing the organic aspect of their production processes at a rate of 20% per year.

However, the percentage of land utilized for organic farming is meager — around 1.8 percent in 2017. Despite this, organic products still valued around $5.4 billion in both domestic and exported goods.

With such an economic reliance on the agricultural industry, the farm community, consumers and other concerned citizens are working together to ensure they manage Canadian soil more responsibly. According to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, solutions like climate change research, bioeconomic strategy and the continuation of research and innovation within the industry will be key to future success.

Improving the Future of Canadian Agriculture

With this new initiative in place, agriculturists can have more confidence in growing organic products. Consumers, too, will be able to put their trust in the food industry, knowing the food they’re purchasing was grown sustainably.

https://www.todayville.com/what-the-usmca-might-mean-for-agriculture-and-biotechnology/

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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What the USMCA Might Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?

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We welcome guest writers to all of our Todayville platforms. Here’s a submission from Emily Folk.  Emily is passionate about agricultural sustainability and more of her work can be found on her site, Conservation Folks. In this story, Emily Folk explains the USMCA Impact on Agriculture. 

What Could USMCA Mean for Agriculture and Biotechnology?

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been in the news a lot lately. The leaders of the respective nations signed the trade agreement on November 30, 2019, and ratification is pending. You can think of the USMCA as an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate NAFTA after publicly speaking unfavourably about it. The USMCA is the result of that vow. The agreement spans several areas, such as the origin of automobile parts and new labor laws in Mexico that make it easier for workers to unionize. The USMCA also has a “sunset clause” that makes its terms expire after 16 years. Plus, every six years, the leaders of the countries involved must agree on whether to extend the deal.

Some agriculture-specific stipulations also exist within the USMCA. Additionally, the agreement notably mentions biotechnology. Here’s a closer look at how the USMCA might change these two industries.

More Exporting Opportunities for Farmers

One of the key points often mentioned about the USMCA is that parties expect the agreement to cause a $2 billion increase in U.S. agriculture exports, triggering a $65 billion rise in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Canada and Mexico are currently the top two exporting markets for American farmers, supporting more than 325,000 American jobs. In 2018, the food and agricultural exports destined for Canada and Mexico totaled more than $39.7 billion.

The USMCA also opens exporting opportunities that did not exist before. Now, U.S. dairy farmers will have expanded access to send products such as fluid and powdered milk, cheese and cream to Canadian parties. There will also no longer be U.S. tariffs on whey and margarine. This change is notable, considering the Canadian dairy market produced roughly 17% of the United States’ annual output over the past three years.

In exchange, Canada will give the United States new access to chicken and eggs, plus increased access to turkey. Plus, all other agriculture products traded between the U.S. and Mexico will be under a zero-tariff model.

Moving Forward With Agricultural Biotechnology

Another improvement associated with the USMCA is that it looks at agricultural technology more broadly than other trade agreements have.

For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a proposed trade agreement between 12 nations — only addressed biotechnology regarding recombinant DNA (rDNA). That process involves joining the molecules from two different species, then inserting the product into a host to create new genetic combinations. Instead, the USMCA opens possibilities for all kinds of agricultural technology, including gene editing. Moving ahead with biotechnology could be crucial for addressing pressing matters that affect agriculture, such as water scarcity.

Approximately 700 million people suffer from water scarcity, and that number could double by 2025. Also, the agriculture industry is the greatest user of water. Things must change — both to address the growing water scarcity problem and to give farmers more options for growing things without using so much water.

Biotechnology has already helped, and it seems highly likely to continue spurring progress. In one example, scientists altered the expression of one gene common to all plants. This change led to a 25% increase in the plants’ water-use efficiency without adversely impacting yield or photosynthesis.

As part of the USMCA, Mexico, Canada and the United States agreed to improve information sharing and cooperation about biotechnology matters related to trade. That change could speed new developments, resulting in positive outcomes for all involved groups and the world at large.

Fairer Agricultural Grading Standards

A grading system for agricultural products defines trading procedures. For example, commercial buyers of a product grown in another country refer to the grading standards to set expectations about a product’s quality. The USMCA specifies that Canada will evaluate U.S. imported wheat and assign it a grade no less favourable than it would give Canadian-grown wheat.

Canada will also no longer require country of origin statements associated with inspection certificates or quality grades. The United States and Canada will discuss issues related to seed regulations under the USMCA, too.

Concerning Mexico and the United States, the two countries agreed to non-discriminatory grading standards and services. Moreover, a dialogue will begin between the two countries to flesh out the details for quality standards and grading regarding trade.

A Promising Future

It’s too early to say what the real-life effects will be of the changes outlined here. But, the commitments laid out within the USMCA seem like they’ll represent clear improvements for agriculture professionals, as well as everyone who benefits from their goods.

 

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.

 

 

 

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