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The Manitoba Co-operator | June 14, 2012

OPINION/EDITORIAL

Waste not, want not

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very year we hear the stories — the farmer who lost a bin full of canola to spoilage, or the one who lost his sunflowers — and the bin — after the crop overheated and caught fire. Or the farmer who opened his grain bag to find an infested, rotting mess after birds or rodents overwhelmed the seal and allowed moisture to invade. Thankfully, those stories are uncommon Laura Rance enough in these parts that they are news, at Editor least on coffee-pot row. Of course, they can always do better as the ongoing effort to reduce harvest losses in crops like canola would suggest. Researchers estimate some farmers are losing upwards of 10 per cent of their yields due to improper harvest timing and poorly calibrated equipment. But generally, when it comes to keeping their harvested grain in good condition, our farmers are blessed with a conducive climate; those long, cold and dry winters have to be good for something. But they also have the knowledge and access to the technology they need to maintain the harvest quality. That’s not the case in many parts of the world where heat and humidity combine with a lack of storage infrastructure, transportation and know-how to cause post-harvest losses that are as high as 50 per cent of what farmers produce. For example, much of India’s grains are exposed to potential decay, as state-run warehouses can store only 63 million tonnes against the total 82.4 million tonnes of current stocks, a Reuters report says. Plus, farmers have just harvested another bumper crop. The situation has the Indian government to re-enter the global export market to move the stocks before they rot, which is expected to put a damper on prices for farmers everywhere. That’s tragic in a country inhabited by 500 million poor and where nearly half of the children under the age of three are either underweight or stunted due to malnutrition. And it adds to the controversy surrounding the Green Revolution, the 1960s initiative under which U.S. and Canadian researchers introduced improved genetics, fertilizers and pesticides to help India produce more of its own food and avert a pending famine. The concept was remarkably successful at increasing production, it hasn’t meant the end of hunger. Without the necessary infrastructure, market mechanisms and storage to help get the food to the people who need it, India — like many countries in hot, humid climates — has routinely been confronted with surplus production and extensive loss due to waste. It’s not just the economic loss to those farmers at stake. Much of production agriculture is dependent on non-renewable resources. Every bushel of waste is like stoking the boilers on the Titanic while steadying its course. “While public and private resources have been poured into increasing production, very little work and attention has focused on adequately addressing the safe storage of food,” Digvir Jayas, a professor in biosystems engineering and the University of Manitoba’s vice-president of research and international development says in a recently published article. Adding to the travesty is the fact that so much is known about how to prevent it. In a recent commentary published in the journal of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Jayas lays out a comprehensive “to-do” list for taking that knowledge and making it available to areas of the world that need it most, which by the way, are also regions in which populations are growing the fastest. But key to any strategy will be recognition by governments that food grains are a national asset worth protecting, because of their role in either reducing the need for food imports or, as in the case of Canada, in generating additional export revenues. The issue of post-harvest losses is gaining traction as is the issue of excessive spoilage due to the overstocked larders and fridges in North America. Up until now, we’ve been told the world’s farmers must increase production by 50 to 70 per cent if they are to feed the expected nine billion people sharing this planet by 2050. Even the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization was spouting this line less than two years ago. That places a tremendous burden on producers. However, a newly released FAO report noted the world can feed itself with less food than previously forecast if it turns to sustainable farming, cuts waste and stops excessive consumption. But it said “bold policy decisions” are needed to cut food losses and waste that amount to 1.3 billion tonnes a year, roughly one-third of the world’s food production for human consumption. The focus on food production needs to shift to a focus on food availability. laura@fbcpublishing.com

Check firearms licence expiry date By Allan Dawson CO-OPERATOR STAFF

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hank you, Inky Mark. You saved me 80 bucks and probably a lot of grief. Your letter to the editor in last week’s Manitoba Co-operator prompted me to dig out my Firearm’s Licence to check the expiration date, which turns out to be next Feb. 28. After getting the licence in 2007 it was shoved in a desk drawer and never looked at again until I read your letter, which truth be told, sent a little shiver down my spine. And not because I oppose licensing, but because I know from experience the hassle of trying to get back into the system after failing to renew on time. I once had a Possession Only Licence (POL) obtained, I’m guessing, when I registered a couple of 22s. I ignored the POL renewal forms mailed to me on the mistaken assumption renewing was unnecessary because the Conservatives promised to scrap the gun registry. I didn’t realize there were essentially two registries — one for gun owners and another for their guns. The government eventually killed the latter but not the former. My ignorance eventually led to the Firearms Centre informing me via registered mail I had 30 days to turn over my firearms. I called the centre seeking to renew my POL only to be told POLs had been “grandfathered.” They could be renewed, but not after expiring. I had two options: surrender my arsenal or get a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). Getting a PAL required either taking a firearms safety course and passing an examination or challenging the exam. I did the latter.

OUR HISTORY:

Rather than going through all that again, I wanted to be sure I renewed my PAL before it expired. I called the Canadian Firearms Centre (1-800-731-4000, http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ cfp-pcaf/) to find out what to do. Renewal forms are mailed automatically three months before licences expire, I was told. “Are you sure they’ll be sent automatically?” I asked. “Well, you can download the forms and renew yourself,” came the reply. (Look for “Form CAFC 979 at http://www. rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/form-formulaire/ num-nom/979-eng.htm.) Those who renew before September don’t have to pay the new $80 renewal fee, as Mark noted in his letter. My advice is don’t wait until the last minute. In addition to filling out a form, renewals require a photograph of the applicant. While it doesn’t have to be a professionally taken photo, it does have to be a specific size. It’s ironic. The gun registry is gone but the registry of gun owners isn’t. At least with the gun registry you only had to do it once — at the start or when purchasing a new gun, which I found to be hassle free. When buying a new gun after getting my PAL, I asked the clerk how long I’d have to wait before taking my new rifle home. I assumed there’d be a five-day waiting period like in many U.S. states. I was surprised when he said as long as I had my PAL I could buy as many guns and ammo as I liked and then leave once he was done registering them by phone to the Firearms Centre. But I’d rather have to register a gun once and not have to keep renewing my PAL. allan@fbcpublishing.com

June 15, 1946

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ur June 15, 1946 edition carried the first of a series of advertisements in a campaign by the Winnipeg Grain Exchange to get wheat back under the open market. The campaign apparently had little effect — in a plebiscite the following year, Manitoba farmers voted overwhelmingly to have barley and oats added to the jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board. Elsewhere in the issue, we reported on “Operation Crossroads,” in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture was shipping a collection of “seed, moulds, plant and animal disease materials, and insects including those both friendly and unfriendly to man” to be exposed to radiation from atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. The article noted that insects normally die after a short time without food, so that arrangements were being made to keep them fed en route to the tests, specifying wood for termites and cloth for carpet beetles. As for bedbugs, “plans were made to feed them occasionally.” The entomologist in charge was interestingly named Dr. J.D. Frankenfeld.

MBC120614  

AAFC researchers help NASA calibrate new global soil moisture measuring satellite ahead of 2014 launch Clarification letter » PAGE 5 Agency c...

MBC120614  

AAFC researchers help NASA calibrate new global soil moisture measuring satellite ahead of 2014 launch Clarification letter » PAGE 5 Agency c...