This week started out very different from most weeks, as word came that the Minister of Agriculture would be making a “very large announcement” in the afternoon. I shuffled my schedule and packed my gear and braved the cold to be in the audience when ag minister Gerry Ritz announced Bill C-18, the Canadian Agricultural Growth Act. If you haven’t had a chance to get familiar with the bill, you should, and I’ve posted most of the announcement here (so you can hear it straight from Mr. Ritz). Of particular note for farmers, the Ag Growth Act includes changes to the cash advance program and includes a commitment to bring Canada in line with plant breeders’ rights guidelines of UPOV 91. This will impact how farmers pay for new genetics. Click here for a discussion on that.
From where I sit, here in Suburbia, grocery stores are rapidly becoming boutiques. A brand new Sobey’s was just built in my neighbourhood, and it’s designed almost as an outdoor market under-roof, complete with individuals hawking wares. The labeling, signage and branding is off the charts, and, if I’m honest, it’s all rather overwhelming and a little annoying. But this is the grocery store of the future, says John Scott, and Shaun Haney posted an interview with him about the business of retailing food here. You may say, hey, I grow commodities, what does it matter if the retailer is using big buzzwords? Trust me, it matters. I highly recommend every farmer listen to that interview. It’s eye opening.
The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without the rushing out after the kids are in bed to desperately buy as many gifts as possible in as short a time as possible (wait…maybe that’s just me. I need an elf, if you’ve got one to spare.) Field editor Debra Murphy didn’t want farmers feeling left out, and so after completing her 10 Gifts for the Rancher in Your Life post, she got right down to business and posted this post on Spoiling Agronomy Geeks. There’s some good stuff on there. Check it out!
Yesterday was also a pretty neat day here at RealAgriculture. We’re a site devoted to farming and the agriculture industry, and, to me, that includes covering all production systems, not just the most common. That said, it’s been difficult at times to find balance when discussing biotechnology and genetic modification, and I find myself constantly barraged by a slew of nastiness on Twitter aimed at one biotech company in particular. So I was over the moon pleased when Rob Wallbridge, an organic farmer from Quebec, sent me a column he wrote about a tour he took a few months ago at none other than Monsanto. Rob, @SongberryFarm on Twitter, believes very strongly in true dialogue about farming challenges and solutions, and while he’s committed to growing under organic certification, he, like me, is tired of the fear-mongering and misinformation that continues to cycle and swirl around the biotechnology debate. If you haven’t already had a chance, I highly recommend reading his thoughts on his tour of Monsanto here.