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.
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.
Read more stories on Todayville Agriculture.
Sask. premier accuses Trudeau of risking trade with India, hiding status of talks
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe listens during a news conference, in Whistler, B.C., on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Moe’s government is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of damaging relations with India and keeping the provinces in the dark about trade talks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
By Dylan Robertson
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s government is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of damaging relations with India and keeping the provinces in the dark about trade talks.
In a letter Moe released Monday, Saskatchewan Trade Minister Jeremy Harrison argued Trudeau is picking a fight with India for domestic political gain and risking access to one of his province’s most important export markets.
“It is very difficult to come to any other conclusion that your government has once again put its own domestic political interests ahead of the national economic interest — particularly as it relates to exports and trade of western Canadian-produced commodities,” Harrison wrote.
Last month, Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma told The Canadian Press in an interview that Ottawa sought a pause “within the last month” to ongoing talks for an Early Progress Trade Agreement.
The news stunned business leaders, and Harrison wrote that his peers have had a “complete lack of updates” on the negotiations since at least late July.
“It is unacceptable to our government that we first heard of a pause in the EPTA negotiations through the media one week ago, and have received no explanation from (the) Government of Canada subsequent to that,” reads Harrison’s letter, dated Sept. 8.
“Clearly, what your government has done has put the already strained Canada-India relationship in even further peril after some improvement following the prime minister’s disastrous trip to India in 2018,” he wrote, a reference to Trudeau being mocked for wearing traditional outfits and for inviting a convicted terrorist to a reception he hosted in India.
Harrison added that provinces and territories ought to be present in the negotiations, saying this has been done in talks for past trade deals. Harrison also claimed that Trade Minister Mary Ng had not replied to a late July letter seeking an update on the negotiations.
The Liberals have given no clear reason why they ordered a pause in the trade talks, and Ng’s office said she would be providing a statement in the late afternoon in response to Harrison’s letter.
“We know the negotiations around free trade are long and complex, and I won’t say any more,” Trudeau told reporters last Friday in Singapore.
Saskatchewan makes up roughly a third of Canada’s exports to India, amounting to more than $1 billion per year. The trade includes commodities such as lentils, which India has occasionally blocked or delayed as it tinkers with pest-control policies.
Trudeau briefly met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi this weekend, and India’s external affairs ministry said Modi expressed strong concerns to Trudeau about “anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada,” particularly Sikh separatists who want to carve out a state they call Khalistan from India.
The Indian readout made no mention of themes Ottawa included in its summary of the meeting, such as economic growth, support for lower-income countries and reforming global financial institutions.
Trudeau told reporters that he had concerns about foreign interference from any state, including India, and that Canadians of any origin have a right to free speech.
India has long accused Canada of harbouring extremists, while Ottawa has continually maintained that freedom of speech means groups can voice political opinions if they don’t use violence.
Tensions escalated this spring over a series of incidents, including with posters referring to India’s diplomats in Canada as “killers” and seeking their home addresses.
Ng is set to lead a trade mission to India next month with Canadian businesses.
Human Rights Watch says the Modi government has overseen a “serious regression in human rights and constitutional protections,” with attacks on Muslims and other minorities met with impunity and restrictions on journalists.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2023.
Canadian innovation beats EU precaution in agriculture sustainability
From the MacDonald Laurier Institute
By Stuart Smyth
Canada should learn from, not follow, the EU’s agriculture policy errors
The world needs a lot of food to feed eight billion hungry mouths. Even though global production for the most important crops – rice, wheat and maize – reached all-time highs last year, inflation, geopolitical interruptions and misguided policy have disrupted our ability to make food abundant and affordable for everyone.
Crop breeding, more efficient fertilizer and chemical use, and investments in farming equipment and technology offer tried and true strategies for increasing production while enhancing sustainability and reducing GHG emissions.
The European Union is rejecting these proven strategies through policies that dramatically reduce fertilizer and chemical use and ban modern crop breeding technologies. Regrettably, Canada’s federal government is looking at the European approach as a model for its emissions reduction plans. Canadians must reject the ideologically driven, counterproductive policies pursued in the European Union and must insist on science and outcome-driven policies to promote a strong, sustainable agricultural sector that can help satisfy the world’s growing needs.
Innovation is fundamental to modern societies and economies. Governments constantly encourage innovation and enact policies to incentivize investment into the research and development required to bring new products and processes to market. In recent years, environmental sustainability has been a primary concern and Canadian agriculture has been at the forefront of sustainable innovation. Fundamentally, sustainability in agriculture means maximizing efficiency: producing more pounds of crop per acre of land for each pound of input (seed, fertilizer, pesticides, labour) applied.
Prior to the widespread adoption of modern crop technologies, all crop and food production was done through what are now known as organic production practices. With organic production the only way to produce more food is to use more land. However, beginning in 1960, food production became decoupled from increased land use, increasing by 390% while using only 10% more land. Innovations in crop breeding technologies such as GM crops (genetically modified), fertilizer and chemical use, and farm industrialization have all contributed to this increasingly sustainable food production.
This increase in productivity has allowed the world’s population to flourish from just 3 billion people in 1960 to 8 billion today. Although the global agricultural sector is a significant source of greenhouse gases, total emissions have remained flat since 2000 even as production increased, and the sector’s share of global emissions has declined.
Despite this incredible success story, modern agriculture is often viewed with suspicion, particularly in the European Union. They have incorporated precaution-based regulations which dramatically reduce fertilizer and chemical use and ban modern crop breeding technologies. Presently they are proposing to triple organic production, from 8% of current land to 25%, by 2030, as part of what’s known as their “Farm to Fork” strategy to reduce agricultural GHG emissions.
Inevitably, the strategy will not necessarily reduce emissions but will certainly reduce production. Declines are expected: -26% in cereals, -27% in oilseeds, -10% for fruits and vegetables, -14% of beef and -9% of dairy. All of these production decreases will contribute to even higher food prices in the EU, which has been experiencing double digit inflation increases for most of the past year.
By contrast, Canada allows all plant breeding technologies to be used in the development of new varieties, and fertilizer and chemical use is based upon risk appropriate, science-based regulations. The benefits of this approach are unambiguous.
In Saskatchewan, only 3% of crop land requires tillage – mechanical turning of the soil to control for weeds and pests and prepare for seeding. In the European Union, 74% of crop land requires it. Removing tillage from land management practices not only reduces soil erosion and increases moisture conservation; it also reduces the amount of carbon released and increases the sequestration of carbon through continuous crop production. 90% of Saskatchewan farmers indicate that efficient weed control provided by the use of glyphosate increased sustainability in their practices, and 73% said production of herbicide tolerant canola, which is predominantly GM, did.
An assessment of EU agricultural GHG emissions concluded that had genetically modified crops been adopted there in a timely fashion, total EU agricultural GHG emissions would have been reduced by 7.5%. This amounts to 33 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. At any rate, their reduced yields have left them heavily dependent on imports of GM livestock feed from Brazil and Argentina.
Comparing sustainable agricultural production between the EU and Canada reveals two very different situations. The EU has rejected GM crops due to politics and precaution and as a result still heavily relies on tillage. Canadian farmers have enthusiastically adopted GM crops, virtually eliminating tillage. The EU is proposing additional precaution-based regulations that will further reduce crop and food production. Canadian farmers have demonstrated the ability to produce more food with fewer inputs, while the EU is poised to produce less, with more land requirements.
Opposing paths have been selected in the EU and Canada. The evidence to date confirms that it is Canadian agricultural production that is increasingly sustainable. The government must learn the right lessons from Europe’s mistakes when adopting strategies for reducing emissions from our agricultural sector. Canada should continue to improve sustainability through innovation. Canada should not follow Europe’s failed attempts to reduce emissions by producing less food.
Stuart J. Smyth is Professor & Agri-Food Innovation & Sustainability Enhancement Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.
Trajectory for ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers’ trial uncertain as third week begins
Hunter Biden sues the IRS over tax disclosures after agent testimony
How Online Casinos Outsmart Their Competitors
Backlog of air passenger complaints tops 57,000, hitting new peak
Business2 days ago
Alberta deserves more than half CPP assets if it exits program: report
COVID-192 days ago
Emergency manager to take the stand for third day at ‘Freedom Convoy’ trial
Bruce Dowbiggin2 days ago
If You Don’t Hear From Me, It’s Because I Don’t Hear From You.
Red Deer2 days ago
The Red Deer Polytechnic Alumni Association is inviting you to Palate: A Taste of Local
Alberta2 days ago
Alberta to debate Canada Pension Plan, says it deserves half of fund if it leaves
Red Deer2 days ago
New Chiefs logo for Red Deer Minor Hockey designed with guidance of indigenous leaders
COVID-1922 hours ago
‘Freedom Convoy’ trial resumes with questions for mayor’s chief of staff
conflict2 days ago
Poland is done sending arms to Ukraine, Polish leader says as trade dispute escalates