Posts Tagged With: advocacy

Did Someone Say ‘Long Weekend’? Not for these Farm Kids. 

Members of the Kelvington 4H Grain club are learning all to soon that at certain times of the year, holidays and long weekends don’t mean much to a farmer. Seasonal work doesn’t wait so holidays have to. Often farmers schedules offer them alternative times to celebrate or relax, like during the winter. But these sort of self regulated holidays don’t work very well when you are a student and a school division sets your schedule. Which is even more reason to be impressed that some of our club members gave up their day off at home to go to another school and learn!

This years field trip for our club may sound a little boring, but it was packed full of new experiences and information that directly applied to what we are learning about in a 4H Grain Club. Early on in the year I set out on a mission to find someone that would address the issue of the importance of biotechnology and plant genetics in modern day agriculture (after some great tour suggestions by the parents in our club). If you follow my writing at all you will know how I feel about farmers educating ourselves so we have the ability to answer tough questions and can help educate consumers. Who better to learn about this topic from than some university professors or research heads! The problem was, these people have actual jobs that keep them very busy and most 13-16 year olds aren’t interested in doing lab tours. This was definitely a new request for many of the people I contacted. To say I had a little trouble getting people to respond to our bright ‘4H club tour’ idea, would be a bit of an understatement.

Just as I was ready to give up and started discussing alternate tour options with the club leaders, a lone person responded to my requests. Dr. Martin Erlandson (research scientist – microbiology, insect virology) of Ag Canada answered the phone one day and offered to see what he could do to help us out. I’m not sure what hoops he and the administration had to jump through but they got us in and did a great job showing our club the work that is done at the Agriculture and AgriFood Canada Saskatoon Research Centre. The North East 4H office (thanks Jodi Schellenberg) helped me get in touch with Alicia Wehrkamp at the University and with her assistance we had a full day of learning on the U of S campus!

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Categories: 4H, Agvocacy, Ask a Farmer, Community, Family Farming, Farming, Saskatchewan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Food Freedom Day!

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The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has calculated that in 2016 Canada’s food freedom day will be February 9. This is the day that the average Canadian will have earned enough money to pay for his or her grocery bill for the entire year. In 2015 that boiled down to 11% of disposable income spent on food (note: that’s only DISPOSABLE income). This means in Canada we have a lot more available money to spend on things like housing, education and recreation (fun things like a family holiday or sporting events). Lucky us!

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We should celebrate having such an early food freedom day, but celebrate with caution. Our FFD has fallen back a few days this year due to the rising cost of food. A low dollar means higher prices on imports, and Canada imports a lot of produce. Prices are forecasted to continue to rise in the coming months. If this worries you, just keep in mind how lucky Canada is in comparison to other countries. As a mother it is exciting to have a choice between 7 different kinds of milk at the grocery store, but what I think is even better is that every day more and more mothers in poverty stricken countries are able to wake up knowing their children won’t starve to death. Biotechnology and agriculture are helping in this area and have the ability to balance out economic and food inequalities around the world, if we allow it. So lets look at how lucky Canadians actually are compared to the rest of the world:

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Categories: Agvocacy, Ask a Farmer, Family Farming, Farming, GMOs, Saskatchewan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Got Questions? We Have Answers!

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This post is one I have been rolling around in my head for weeks.  It is important for me to write it, and do a good job, because it is the main reason I decided to get involved as an advocate for agriculture and start my own blog.  It is a post that talks about the issue of COMMUNICATION.  This is a weighty subject and I think I might have to do a follow up in the future because I have already edited about 5 times for length!

Our population has been growing at an increasing rate every year.  Years ago those employed in agriculture and the agriculture industry (think; farmers, scientists, companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, John Deere, Case IH, etc.) saw what was coming and where agriculture needed to be to meet the needs of a growing global populace.  They put their heads down and worked feverishly at improving the system.  Together they have done a great job; “A Canadian farmer could only feed 10 people a century ago, but can now feed over 120 today.  Farming productivity has jumped by 300 per cent since the 1950s – and at the same time, we’re using fewer resources, less land and newer, better technologies to produce more food.”  http://www.farmfoodcare.org/news/2-farm-food-care/37-dirt-on-farming

What we have all failed miserably at is communicating to the rest of the world what we are doing and why.  In a world where every generation is becoming further and further removed from the farm life, we mistakenly assumed people would understand why these things had to be done, and that changes were being made in a safe and sustainable way.

A world in 1950 where around 2 billion people woke up every morning was vastly different from today where the population is over 7 billion, and 2050 when the population is expected to hit 9.5 billion (requiring an increase in global food production of around 70%) source: UN, Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision.

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About 21,000 people die every day from starvation or hunger related causes, without the agricultural advances of the last 50 to 60 years that number would be a lot larger.  I have been told, more than once, that agriculture needs to go back to the way it was 50 years ago.  This is clearly a mindset that comes from not understanding our global situation.

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Categories: Ask a Farmer | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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