Author: Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts directs research communications and teaches at the University of Guelph, and is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. You can find him on Twitter as

More Farm and Food Teacher Ambassadors On Deck

Rejoice, people who say we need more agriculture education in the classroom. Here’s some good news. In Ontario, plans are underway to have up to 50 agriculture in the classroom teacher ambassadors – twice as many as now exist — trained and available for assignment by the 2018/19 school year. This initiative is being driven… Read more »

Could Investing in Rural Canada Make for Affordable Cities?

We know that housing prices – regardless of whether you buy or rent — are out of sight, especially in Canada’s major cities, and in particular, Toronto, where housing prices have jumped more than 30 per cent in one year. As part of what’s called the Fair Housing Plan, announced Thursday, April 20, Ontario Premier… Read more »

Africa’s Farmers Need Investment to Feed Africa

Globally, the big question in food production – the one that reverberates in any discussion about the future – is who will feed the increasingly hungry world, and how. Most of the focus is on Africa, and the growing population there. So the question goes: Who will feed Africa? Well, after spending two weeks with… Read more »

Real AgVentures – Swimming Pigs: They’re Bringing Home the Bacon

[GREAT EXUMA, THE BAHAMAS] – Farmers everywhere – including the Bahamas — used to get in and out of pigs relatively quickly. It’s not really like that anymore, as farming has become more sophisticated. But back then, when prices went up, herds grew quickly. When prices went down, herds shrunk about as fast. And so… Read more »

Equine Infertility Answers Could Help Humans

When it comes to mating horses, there’s a lot at stake. Stud fees can soar into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. And likewise, offspring from a particularly promising pairing can be extremely valuable. These animals could be the start of a new line, and lead to generations of prime performers. But… Read more »

Here’s a Great Gift: Soybeans Complete the Miller Legacy Project

As far back as 2001, Fortier, Man., farmer and seed dealer Darcy Miller was growing soybeans. With his agronomic savvy, he saw their potential, and watched through the years as they caught on with other farmers in the province. Now, it’s estimated Manitoba farmers will plant around two million acres of soybeans this year. So… Read more »

Strange Bedfellows team up for consumer support

If you need any more evidence that times are changing in farming, look no further than a new partnership between the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and an activist group called Environmental Defence. You likely know the former. The OFA describes itself as Canada’s largest voluntary farm organization, representing more than 36,000 farm families across… Read more »

Fireside chats take the chill off Canada’s Agriculture Day

Farmers don’t need to be reminded they’re active in many ways in the winter, but the public does.That’s part of what’s driving the timing of Canada’s first-ever national agriculture day. The architects of the February 16 event, #CdnAgDay — Agriculture More Than Ever, Agriculture in the Classroom, and Farm & Food Care – want to… Read more »

Use Your On-Farm Savvy to Start a Small Business

Donald Trump may or may not succeed in building a wall between him and us for what he calls security purposes. But let’s be clear: we appear to be entering a new era of American protectionism. If it’s not a physical structure that comes between us, in the name of saving US jobs and lives,… Read more »

Trump Legacy: Feed the World, or the Ego?

I’m a big advocate of democracy. I defend the free press globally, especially the agricultural free press, and people’s right to say what they want, as long as they don’t misuse it by slandering or scurrilously pursuing others. But when I see Donald Trump supporters flaunting slogans like Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required, as… Read more »

Enhanced Databank Gives Veterinarians Better Access to Extra-Label Advice

Livestock and poultry veterinarians involved with extra-label use of drugs for food animals now have an improved – and vitally important – e-resource available to them. Directors of the web-based Canadian food animal residue avoidance databank (which goes by the acronym CgFARAD) have unveiled a new user-friendly and effective database and website for licensed veterinarians… Read more »

Pondering farming’s future, 6½ lbs. at a time

The New Year was hardly a day old when we welcomed grandson Andrew Daniel Huston into the family and into the world, at 6:25 p.m. on January 2. He tipped the scales at a healthy 6 lbs., 8 oz., surprising his mother (my daughter) Alicia and his dad Mark with his speedy delivery. Maybe he… Read more »

Ontario Ag Minister Says It’s Back to Basics in 2017: Soil, Water, & Air

Don’t be surprised to see more hydro bill relief in sight in 2017 for rural Ontarians, says the province’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. In a year-end interview, Minister Jeff Leal said that although the province has started finding ways to reduce energy bills, “there’s more to do.” He said he “wouldn’t be… Read more »

New Year Prediction: Your Natural Capital Will Be Trending

Every decade or so, the rest of the world realizes how cool it is to be a farmer — to be someone with “natural capital,” that is, a steward of natural resources such as healthy soil, clean water, and good air. In my lifetime, it’s happened a few times in North America, driven initially by… Read more »

Trump vs. Smart Tomatoes: It’s a Pick’em

A prediction earlier this week from a Canadian academic suggested Donald Trump’s presidency would cause food prices in Canada to rise in 2017. Here’s why. To make America great again, Trump has said he’s going to deport illegal immigrant workers. If he succeeds, that effort will include getting rid of the ballooning number of illegal… Read more »