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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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Ag Business

Farmers Rock for AG at Farm Forum Event in Saskatoon

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Ag Rocks Text

Ag Rocks For Charity is a cool initiative.

Nick Saik puts his massive skills to good work in this video showcasing some harmonica riffls along with a fine pitch for donating to his charity of choice Agriculture In The Classroom. Nick is our partner in Todayville Agriculture and we are cheering him on in his quest to raise $5 grand. Or as he puts it, “…Teaching Kids by Beating My Dad…”.

It’s part of the AG Rocks For Charity initiative, a fun component of the Farm Forum Event, a 3 day conference in Saskatoon, SK (Dec. 3rd to 5th). The video tells you all about how passionate Nick is about laying a fiscal beating on his pa.

AG ROCKS FOR CHARITY is a highlight of the weekend.  Here’s how it works.  Some very talented volunteers compete to raise the most money and profile for their charity of choice. Click here for the entire talent line up, other important links, and more information.

We’re excited about all of the performances, but in particular, we’re pushing our own hometown hero Nick Saik.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT NICK AND DONATE RIGHT NOW TO AGRICULTURE IN THE CLASSROOM.

PHOTO OF NICK ON RAILROAD

Nick Saik, President of Know Ideas Media, filmmaker, media entrepreneur, musician, dad

As noted, Nick’s charity of choice is  Agriculture In The Classroom. In Nick’s words, “…helping kids get excited about food production is critical for the long term public trust of agriculture, and nobody is better at giving kids good information than Ag In The Classroom…”

We’ve heard Nick perform before, and recently caught him strumming his guitar and brushing up on some Garth and The Band.  From what we’re hearing, his interpretations of Friends in Low Places and The Weight are certainly worthy of the price of admission right there.

Nick’s also a talented filmmaker. If you want to see some of his handiwork, check out this story featuring a brilliant short video he produced called “Nut Milking Exposed”, now viewed well north of 50 million times.

The Farm Forum Event is a three-day conference that brings together progressive farmers, agricultural professionals and academics to learn about where game-changing innovation and the latest AG research connects with practical on-farm operations.

Here’s a short promotional video for Ag Rocks for Charity (also produced by Nick – like I said, he’s a talented guy.  Help him out please!

Please consider donating – Agriculture in the Classroom is a great initiative.  Or maybe you need a vacation.  Check out this cool travel story on Todayville Red Deer.

“India? Are you nuts?” Join Gerry for Part 1 of his series on India.

 

 

 

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Ag Business

Edmonton medical cannabis company expanding to Denmark

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From Atlas Biotechnologies Inc.

Atlas Biotechnologies announces a major expansion into the European market.

Atlas Biotechnologies Inc. is pleased to announce its expansion into Europe with Atlas Growers Denmark. Atlas Biotechnologies is proud to be the first Canadian grower to execute a large-scale indoor medicinal cannabis production facility in Europe.

Sheldon Croome, Atlas President & CEO notes: “We have been seeking to expand our production base outside of Canada for some time and are pleased to have secured this high-impact opportunity. The rapidly emerging European medical cannabis market is primed for tremendous growth and our Denmark expansion will provide Atlas a solid foundation to further serve our ever-growing client base of European buyers. We are excited to be planning one of the largest, most sophisticated indoor cultivation and GMP processing facilities in Europe, the next major frontier for medical cannabis legalization.”

Atlas Growers Denmark is structured using a finance lease of the assets of Egehøj Champignon; Atlas retains the right to purchase the assets at a fixed price at any time for twenty years. The assets consist of a 170,000 sq. ft. facility located on Funen, Denmark and will serve as Atlas’ European base of operations for the development and production of medical cannabis-based products. The property features 36 individual climate-controlled rooms, allowing for in-house cultivation of pharmaceutical grade cannabis flowers, as well as production of pure, extracted medical inputs, & GMP manufacturing of down-stream finished goods. The microclimates can be tailored to the unique environmental demands of each specific medical cannabis cultivar, or plant variety.

Kent Stenvang, CEO and Owner of Egehøj Champignon will lead the Atlas team as Denmark Head of Operations​.

Kent Stenvang added: “I am thrilled to become an integral member of the Atlas team and am consistently impressed by their biotech and pharmaceutical research focus in medical cannabis. This cultivation and processing expansion is a boost for the area by creating 50 local jobs with over 100 hires expected by late 2020.”

Drawings of European Facility

 

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Working with Novo Nordisk Engineering, Atlas has engineered a new 20,000 sq. ft. processing laboratory, which will meet European Union Good Manufacturing Practices (EU GMP) standards, the certification necessary for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Atlas Denmark has submitted a cultivation license. Approval is pending and is expected in the next few months with planting to begin soon after. The first harvest is scheduled for early 2020 with an expected eventual product yield of 20,000 kg each year.

About Atlas Biotechnologies Inc. (“Atlas”) and Atlas Growers Ltd.

Atlas is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and its wholly owned subsidiary, Atlas Growers Ltd. is federally licensed for cultivation and processing of cannabis products, with a focus on medical use markets. Atlas currently operates a purpose-built 38,000 square foot facility and laboratory, which has in-house capabilities to refine cannabis into distilled and isolated cannabinoid concentrates as well as specialized medical formulations in large volumes. Atlas’ proprietary controlled environment cultivation system is designed to maximize production of the highest consistency and quality of cannabis products for medical use applications. Atlas is heavily focused on research and development and continues to solidify collaboration with some of the world’s most prestigious post-secondary institutions, including Harvard Medical School. Atlas continues towards its vision of improving lives by creating The World’s Most Trusted Cannabis ProductsTM.

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