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

Dirt Cheap Dairy is Not in Our Best Interest

Call me old fashioned, but I’m siding with dairy farmers in the latest attack against supply management. And I hope any farmer who feels the same way will take action and let their elected officials (particularly at the federal level) know how they feel. Over the past couple of weeks, a fight has emerged between… Read more »

Farm Safety: Let’s Talk About It

Farm safety leaders are convinced talking is as necessary as safety equipment and training in preventing farm injuries. So maybe it’s not surprising the theme for this year’s Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, which runs March 9-15, is Farm Safety: Let’s Talk About It. Dean Anderson of Guelph, Ont., the agricultural program manager for Workplace Safety… Read more »

There’s No Apology Necessary for Canada’s Vibrant Farm Economy

I suspect there will be a lot of angst over the new federal farm review and forecast – even though statistically, it’s a good news story. The report, released last week, showed farmers produced 96.5 million tonnes of grain in 2013. That’s a major leap over the previous year’s relatively dismal 76.7-million tonne crop, which… Read more »

Feds deserve support for Made In Canada branding campaign

The words “Made in Canada branding campaign” had hardly dried on the page of federal finance minister Jim Flaherty’s Economic Action Plan last week before marketing experts started taking shots at it…even though they didn’t know what it was about. They couldn’t know, because the government itself didn’t — all the budget contained was one… Read more »

Why agriculture should get $100 million for research from Ontario budget

It’s stated twice, in 2007 and 2012: the $58-million research partnership between the University of Guelph and what is now the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs has an annual economic impact of more than $1.1 billion on the province. That’s a $58-million annual investment, and a $1.1-billion return. Anyone… Read more »

Germany sets out to improve 40:1 odds against a positive crop protection story

Think of an event covered by 5,000 journalists from 70 countries. The Winter Olympics? Superbowl XLVIII? A Justin Bieber court appearance? Think again – it’s actually an agriculture and food event, the biggest one in Europe, called Green Week. Now in its 79th year, this edition, staged every January, drew a record 410,000 people (mostly… Read more »

PEDv Crisis Underlines Need for Rural Vets

When new farm animal diseases rear their heads, one of the first questions asked is how they were discovered.  Overwhelmingly, the sleuth turns out to be a rural veterinarian, summoned by the farm’s concerned owner or operator. Although our society is becoming much more urbanized, rural veterinarians play a critical role. In Ontario, the Ontario… Read more »

Lessons Learned from my Ford Pinto about Food Trends

The last Ford I owned outright – and lived to tell the tale — was a 1972 Pinto. To me, at the time, it was a beauty, silver-grey with a thick black stripe along the rocker panels. I thought it was cool, but, in truth, I was an idiot to drive it. I was lucky… Read more »

Farmers Keen to Contact Politicians, And That’s Good News

When farmers aren’t busy farming, it turns out they’re busy lobbying the government with ideas, strategies and suggestions to keep farming vibrant. A new members’ survey by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the province’s largest general farm group, shows many farmers are dedicating time to contacting representatives at all three levels – municipal, provincial and… Read more »

Food Prices: Why Consumers Should Care About Accessible Rural Energy

Consumers want food that’s as cheap as possible. True, they want safe food, too, and all those other features such as wholesome, nutritious and environmentally sound food. But mainly, they want food cheap. The huge increase in grocery items at big box stores and discount outlets bears that out. Exceptions exist, particularly with the growing… Read more »

Wind Energy Producers Get Rural Canada’s Warning: Don’t be a Scrooge

Kinder, gentler wind energy producers are emerging, the kind that share the benefits from wind installations with their neighbours and their community. They’re wading into a maelstrom of discontent, but it appears their approach is striking a chord in some parts of rural Canada. Last week the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), an advocacy group… Read more »

Spending More Time on Management? You’re Not Alone

Farming has become a year-round state of mind. Seasonality is not as much of a management consideration as it once was, especially for crop producers. Planting season and harvest season still exist, but due to increased demands – including the need to constantly be working on public image — the farming season has become a… Read more »

Yell Into the Phone: More Support for Public Plant Breeding!

Public breeding (for plants, that is) is not something you’d imagine the public yelling into a telephone about, telling their elected officials support for public plant breeding must absolutely be part of the next federal or provincial budget, or else. But stranger things have happened. For example, who would have thought people would get so… Read more »

I Love Leamington: Turn the Hate for Heinz into Something Meaningful

I feel for the good people of Leamington as they struggle to prepare for life without Heinz. The company, which has been a huge part of their lives and their community for more than a century, will close next June. Some say they could see the end coming when Heinz was sold to Americans a… Read more »

Who needs Luke Skywalker to fight the Death Star when you have farmers as warriors?

If you’re among the many – including all the finalists in this year’s Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture competition – who believe a better understanding of modern farming should begin early and formally in schools, take heart. In early December, just prior to the Grow Canada meetings in Calgary, final steps will be taken to… Read more »