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

New technology to reduce antimicrobial use in pigs

An all-Canadian product that promises better pork health is coming onto the domestic market this month. It’s designed to reduce antimicrobial use in piglets, by making them healthier from the start. The product is called Nuvio. Its producers, MicroSintesis and Bio Agri Mix, call Nuvio technology  “proteobiotics.” That’s the name they’ve given molecules produced by… Read more »

Ontario farmers experimenting with world crops

Six years ago, University of Guelph researcher Glen Filson determined that some world crops —such as okra and amaranth — could potentially be grown in Ontario, providing a huge import replacement opportunity for the province’s farmers. He estimated the then-called “ethnic vegetables” represented a $60 million-plus per month market in the Greater Toronto Area alone…. Read more »

Swiss food security vote: because you can’t live on chocolate alone

In our country, referendums are rare, and not for the faint of heart. Remember the Quebec separation referendums back in the 1990s? They nearly tore the country apart. It’s a different story in Switzerland, which like us, is an agricultural nation. Here, referendums — like the one on food security that concluded on Sunday —… Read more »

Efforts intensify in Ontario to regulate organic products

Recent efforts to address consumer questions and confusion over certified organic food production have taken a step forward in Ontario. On Wednesday, MPPs Peter Tabuns and Sylvia Jones announced a co-sponsored private member’s bill for organic products regulation in Ontario. “This bill will provide further transparency and help ensure that the growing organic industry continues… Read more »

A new approach: Turning to consumers for production advice

No one has to tell University of Guelph agricultural economics master’s student Travis Jansen that farmers like him are well-advised to listen to consumers. But he’s doing more than just listening to them – he’s set to learn from them, too. Jansen, who comes from a family hog farm near Seaforth, knows successful farmers have… Read more »

Seeking reasons on why young people keep farming

The exodus of young people from the farm seems to have tapered off as, among other things, prices and trade conditions improved and farmers diversified. But today, what factors are primarily responsible for keeping young farmers on their land? To what extend do cultural, societal and emotional matters figure in? And if those matters have… Read more »

Sausage study challenges consumer confidence

My daughter and grandson share the same birthday, August 7. They’re part of a pork-and-grain farming operation near Thamesville. At their birthday celebration on the weekend, our family barbequed pork sausage from their farm on the campfire. There was no reason to doubt the quality of the sausage. We trust the meat packers in nearby… Read more »

Websites highlight Canadian farmers’ food products

Canada has a reputation for producing superb food ingredients…then shipping them abroad to be processing into finished goods, which we buy back at a higher cost. We further lose their added value because the processing and manufacturing jobs that are part of creating finished goods are part of someone else’s economy, not ours. Apologies if… Read more »

Real AgVentures: Having a mess of fun on a quick trip to Newfoundland

Sometimes it’s hard to get more than a few days for a vacation, no matter where you’re going. Take our recent vacation to Newfoundland, for example. We had only four days available at the tail end of my wife’s conference in St. John’s, but we were determined to see the western part of the province… Read more »

Say ‘salud!’ to the Canada–Mexico connection

I’m sure that with all the sabre rattling going on over NAFTA, our friends in the US understand why Canada and Mexico want to strengthen ties with each other, like we did earlier this month at a meeting in Calgary. There, Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and José Calzada, Mexican Secretary of… Read more »

Blood test can identify litter-limiting genetic problem in pigs

A lab has been established in Guelph to screen boars with a genetic abnormality that results in smaller litters. The abnormality happens naturally, when cells divide. “Sometimes, the genes just don’t line up the way they should when cells are developing,” says University of Guelph Prof. Allan King, who established the lab. That results in… Read more »

Global youth talk mental health at 4-H summit

Mental health challenges on the farm are not restricted to operators, or even their spouses…they affect their kids, too. And that’s one reason the Global 4-H Network Summit has dedicated a session to mental health and awareness when leaders from 70 countries converge in Ottawa this week. On Friday, July 14, the final day of… Read more »

Farmers taking measures to clean up Ontario water

Producers can, and will, continue asking the age-old rhetorical question about why anyone thinks they are, or would be, insensitive to the environment when (unlike most people) they and their families actually live where they work. And although it’s a valid question, I get a feeling that the way our what’s-in-it-for-me society has evolved, logic… Read more »

ClimateCorp bringing its agronomic data platform to Canada

The wealth of information available to producers though digital ag platforms has created some on-farm data management issues. A survey earlier this year shows most producers are gathering agronomic data electronically, but many are not yet using that data for management purposes. Could that change, as companies try to make it easier to put data… Read more »

Real AgVentures: Cheers to Music City, where the action is

If you’re a hockey fan, you had to be excited and inspired by the support Nashville showed for its Predators through the playoffs, whether you liked the team or not. The buzz downtown was fantastic. I can only imagine those images will draw even more tourists to Music City than the record numbers that have… Read more »