Category: Real Talk Real Action

Needed: Free-flowing ag sector employment pipeline

A massive turnover in the agricultural workforce caused by retiring baby boomers means the employment pipeline needs to be flowing more freely than ever. That’s the word from Scott MacDonald, insecticide marketing manager and horticulture lead for BASF. He says universities will be the key source for providing agriculture with new talent. “They’ll make a… Read more »

Young leaders grow where they’re planted

Calls abound for programs and leadership to help strengthen rural Canada, to make sure the voices of this country’s farmers are heard outside the farm gate, and to help urban people understand farmers’ crucial, daily role in feeding the world. The question is, who’s responsible for developing leaders? Maybe one answer to the leadership question… Read more »

Nominations wrapping up for $100,000 ag and food prizes

Nominations are closing this week for two unique global food innovation awards — and there’s every reason to believe Canadian agriculture could produce a winner. The awards are the first Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards, from the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph. The institute was created from a $20-million donation from the… Read more »

Researchers put veal calf health under the microscope

It’s true that most male calves won’t be members of a herd for long. Nonetheless, being in good health is vital for their success on the veal or dairy beef farm where they’re headed. And maintaining good health is becoming more of a challenge in the rapidly changing livestock industry. Consumer demands for more natural… Read more »

Microbiome: A growing term that could improve agriculture

Right before the New Year, RealAgriculture asked a few contributors to predict what the agriculture community should keep an eye on in 2018. The field is crowded. So I picked issues I’d written about: a veterinary shortage, as well as mental health issues. Both were percolating through 2017 or before. Hopefully, this is the year… Read more »

No kidding: small ruminants are coming on big

Ontario’s veterinary community is responding to the rise in goat and sheep production with new education and research initiatives. Jeff Wichtel, dean of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), says since September, his school’s curriculum has expanded teaching to include more information on small ruminants, and is conducting several new research projects to build up health… Read more »

Producers warned about veterinarian shortage

If you have a sick animal, there’s no such thing as a “timely” veterinarian shortage. But the current situation, which is seeing fewer veterinary service hours available and much more demand expected, is particularly worrisome. It’s raising caution flags in the veterinary sector, and has a leading veterinary educator searching for solutions. Here’s the situation…. Read more »

First rural municipalities ready to roll with Farm 911

Municipalities are stepping forward to help Ontario’s Farm 911 emergency signage project for agricultural land get off the ground. The initiative, named “The Emily Project” after seven-year-old Emily Trudeau who died in a farm accident in 2014, is designed to promote the idea that emergency addresses and signage are important for vacant rural land, including… Read more »

Determining where to cut antimicrobial use for dairy calves

All livestock producers have been urged to cut unnecessary antibiotic use, to try to prevent resistant bacteria from developing in their herds and flocks. But on the farm, the question is where, and how? Consider dairy calves, for example. More than half of the deaths of dairy calves are from diarrhea. Producers often treat that… Read more »

Mental health advocate gets the picture

Canada’s leading advocate for mental health awareness in agriculture, University of Guelph veterinary medicine professor Andria Jones-Bitton, is in high demand at farm meetings to speak about her ground-breaking research results. Through her studies over the past three years, she’s discovered an abnormally high rate of depression and other mental illnesses among farmers (and veterinarians)…. Read more »

Unique research program targets fusarium head blight

For researchers at the University of Guelph, addressing fusarium head blight — one of wheat’s most nagging diseases — is an agronomic time trip through the geography and history of Canada. The researchers, led by Ali Navabi, have gone back to the 1880s through to the present to look at the genetic diversity of 450… Read more »

Livestock disease winging its way north as climate warms

Flying, biting midges (Culicoides spp.) — sometimes called no-see-ums — are a scourge to wildlife. Hunters recognize their effects on deer in particular, which are highly susceptibility to a group of midge-transmitted viruses. But there are growing concerns about their potential effect on livestock, too. Here’s why. A midge swarm will blood-feed on animals, causing… Read more »

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 »

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 »