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Agriculture

Extreme Weather Patterns Causing State of Agricultural Emergency in Canada

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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.

Extreme Weather Patterns Causing State of Agricultural Emergency in Canada

Climate change is spurring intense droughts and floods around the world, leading to crop failures. While corporations and consumers look for ways to reverse the impact of global warming, farmers are dealing with the consequences now.

Canada has high hopes for impending weather shifts. As temperatures rise, the country could gain access to more fertile land. Yet, it’s also dealing with new challenges, including droughts and constant rain.

A Lack of Moisture

Twelve counties in Manitoba declared a state of agricultural emergency due to a severe drought, leaving farmers unable to produce enough feed for cattle. While some are paying to transport hay, others are opting to sell.

Dianne Riding, VP of the Manitoba Beef Producers, says her farm produces around 1,800 bales of hay in a typical season. Last year, they had 500 — this season, only 250. With her reserves depleted, she says she won’t have enough to feed her 130 cows.

Some farmers are transitioning to regenerative agricultural practices in an attempt to prevent livestock from decimating plant life. Other countries, such as China, have already used this method to restore 3.7 million acres of land and increase grain production by 60%.

Canada’s ability to navigate climate change will hinge on its management of water resources. Its prairies, which make up 80% of farmland, were hit by the infamous Dust Bowl in the 1930s. According to researchers, it’s a problem that could repeat itself as temperatures rise.

Federal organizations are establishing green initiatives to simplify environmental shifts. Many corporations are also transitioning to eco-friendly practices, both due to environmental concern and buyer demand. Globally, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from a sustainable company.

A Downpour of Rain

In other parts of the country, excess moisture is an issue. Lac Ste. Anne County in north-central Alberta has declared a state of agricultural emergency due to persistent showers and early snowfall. Between mid-June and the end of July, the county received 406 millimeters of rain.

One significant issue is livestock feed. With wet fields, farmers have difficulty accessing their crops. When they do, the hay often isn’t dry enough to safely and correctly bail it.

Stacey Berry, the county’s assistant manager of agricultural services, reports some fields are seeing upwards of 80% crop death. The goal of the state of emergency is to make it easier for farmers to file insurance claims for losses.

Nearby Leduc County, 30 kilometers south of Edmonton, also declared a local state of agricultural disaster. Similar to in Lac Ste. Anne, the poor weather affected the quality and quantity of yields.

An Eventual Warming

The federal government recently released a warning that droughts, floods and violent storms will increase in frequency. As a result of climate change, experts predict most regions of Canada will warm during the next 60 years. As the country is high-latitude, warming will be more pronounced than the global average.

As the droughts increase, crop yields will decline. Warmer summers could boost the number of heat-wave-related deaths, especially in poultry operations. Plus, diminished weight gain in cattle could lead to reduced milk and dairy production.

In addition to extreme weather events and decreased yield, climate change will also affect disease and pests. Higher levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will lead to greater weed growth and the prevalence of pests and pathogens. The range, frequency and severity of insect and disease infections may rise drastically.

An Opportunity to Expand

In Canada, rising temperatures could be a beneficial opportunity for farmers, opening up millions of once frozen acres. The amount of arable land in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan alone could increase up to 40% by 2040.

Most regions will likely become warmer, with longer pest-free seasons and increased evaporation. The higher temperatures require less feed for livestock, benefiting production and survival rates. It could also benefit soil health by enhancing carbon sequestration and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Farmers hope to capitalize on the warmer conditions by exporting food to regions hit by crop failure. The world agricultural production will need to increase by 50% by 2050 to keep up with population growth.

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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.

 

 

 

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Agriculture

Red Deer – Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen grills federal government on carbon tax affect on farmers

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From a Facebook post of Earl Dreeshen

May 14 Questions

Today I questioned the Federal Agricutlure Minister on the Liberal's anti Agriculture policies including the Carbon Tax.

Posted by Earl Dreeshen on Thursday, May 14, 2020

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Agriculture

Is the Meat Industry Equipped to Handle a Pandemic?

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Is the Meat Industry Equipped to Handle a Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted industries across the world. One of the main sectors that’s concerning experts is the meat and agriculture industry. This concern intensifies in Western Canada since much of the land there is farmland. The imbalance of supply and demand is affecting present-day agricultural production. However, farmers and industry leaders are focused on what is still to come in the future.

From labour shortages to potential outbreaks during production, the future of the meat industry is unclear. The outcome will depend on several factors: government aid, the spread of the virus and COVID-19’s behaviour — which is often unpredictable. Ultimately, the present handling of the meat industry may impact its future and relationship with consumers.

Current Standing

The Government of Canada recently decided to assist farms across the country with federal funding. These farms rely on the production and exportation of meats like beef, pork and chicken to reach supply and demand needs. However, as the virus continues spreading, farmworkers need to maintain physical distance and increase sanitation practices. The government’s funding will compensate workers during this time.

For Canada, part of the stress on the industry comes from the exportation needs. While farmers need to meet country-wide demands, Canada is also an international exporter, especially for the United States.

While the industry is currently suffering from labour shortages, production remains relatively stable. Farmers are adapting to meet new supply and demand requirements. For instance, since restaurants are closing, demands for certain foods, like cheese, will decrease. As workers fall ill and farms need to enforce social distancing, though, production is slowing down.

The funding from Canada’s federal government is supposed to help workers, especially those who are newly arriving. Migrants from Mexico and the Caribbean make up a large portion of Canada’s agricultural workforce. However, whether this funding will be enough is yet to come to light. Additionally, ensuring the even distribution of that money to migrant workers is another issue.

The Industry’s Future

Many experts are focusing on the road ahead. While the current path is fluctuating, the future may hold a more dangerous outcome for the industry. If the virus continues spreading at its current rate, farms may see more issues than ever before.

One of the main factors is the labour shortage. Currently, Canada’s farming labour force is lacking. Production is slow, and workers don’t have the resources and help they need to meet demands. In the future, this could worsen as fewer employees are available. For instance, the poultry sector faces significant demands every day. Part of the process of raising chickens includes weeks of tending to them. If there aren’t enough people to do this job, consumers will see the availability of chicken drop.

The issue of perishables will also present itself. As meat processing must be quick, slower production means more goods will go to waste. Meeting supply and demand requires healthy workers to keep the chain going.

The other major factor that will affect the industry is the spread of the virus. That depends on how the Canadian government handles COVID-19 and how efficiently people practice social distancing. Federal funding will aid production, but if the virus remains present, it will continue spreading. If it reaches processing plants, contamination will become a more serious issue than it already is.

Next Steps

To increase resources and support for farmers and migrant workers, the government will need to provide more emergency funding. This step allows the agriculture industry to invest in more tools, sanitation products, financial support and benefits for all workers. Monitoring the spread of the virus is also crucial. If the government can properly track and isolate cases, COVID-19 will dwindle in its effects. Then, meat industry workers will not have to worry about contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

Canadian Federal Government Taking Measures to Reduce Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

 

 

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july, 2020

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