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

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 »

Cuban Farmers Deserve Change in a Post-Fidel Era

Through the years, Cuban farmers – or at least those whose families didn’t have their farm estates or agri-businesses seized when Fidel Castro came into power — have been living in a bubble. They’ve been loyal subjects to their political leader, the long-time dictator who died last week, almost six months after his 90th birthday…. Read more »

Field Demonstration Boosts Ontario Cellulosic Sugar Producers’ Confidence

Following what they deemed a successful two-day field trial earlier this month, officials from Ontario’s Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative are approaching their future with confidence. They’re actively recruiting members, raising $11 million in funds to buy equity into a processing plant in Sarnia for high-quality liquid dextrose, and to acquire the equipment necessary to harvest… Read more »

Believe Me: Trump’s Policies Could Launch Another Trade War 

Canadian farmers could be among the first to see if U.S. president-elect Donald Trump can live in two worlds – the one in which he keeps his supporters happy, and the other one that keeps the rest of the planet from succumbing to chaos. In his acceptance speech Tuesday, Trump assured the world that he… Read more »

Talking Dirt: New Soil Health Centre Backs Intuition With Science

Soil preservation is gaining seatbelt and sugarless gum status in our society. It’s simply no longer optional. Some soil advocates are now calling for every agricultural grant application to have a tick box explaining how the proposed project exercises best soil management practices. No doubt, pressure is mounting to acknowledge the unparalleled role those first… Read more »

Exports, access, and jobs are a key focus for accord

It doesn’t matter whether Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or the Man in the Moon is elected president of the United States on November 8. Exports, market access, and jobs have long been driving the agenda for this week’s tri-national agricultural accord meeting in Niagara Falls with Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. And that’s not about… Read more »

Empower Farmers by Making Credit Available: A World Food Day Lesson

World anything Day is a lot to take in. You’d think it might be easier to digest when a designated day for something global was also for something so familiar as food. But I didn’t sense that with World Food Day, which arrived and passed Sunday without much fanfare, at least in North America. Why’s… Read more »

Big Lender Urges Farm Equipment Dealers to Reinvent Themselves

One of the world’s largest agricultural lenders suggests North American farm equipment dealers “transform” to improve returns on invested capital. In a food and agribusiness research and advisory missive, Rabobank’s senior analyst for farm inputs, Kenneth Zuckerberg, says the equipment sector is being rocked by three years of declining sales, along with shrinking net income… Read more »

Ontario Ag Minister’s Marching Orders are Heavy on the Environment

Ontario’s focus on the environmental side of farming has just been underlined and intensified, even more. With the midpoint mandate of her provincial government having been reached, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne put pen to paper last week to help guide both new and established ministers on the next part of their journey. Her mission was… Read more »

Wild turkeys are not scapegoats for avian disease in Ontario

A lot of angst is simmering in farm circles about the potential for disease to spread between wildlife and domestic livestock, such as poultry. The concerns are warranted, given how quickly disease can race through a herd and create huge losses. But new research from the University of Guelph into the health status of Ontario… Read more »

The Next Revolution In The Farm And Food Sector Has Arrived

Pundits have said the leaders of the next agricultural revolution – the digital revolution — will be big data-powered researchers, with a universe of information in hand to help make farming more efficient than ever. But no one said those researchers would be found in the labs, fields, and classrooms of some of Canada’s main… Read more »