This Week Marketplace | March 26, 2021
Richardson announces expansion By Calvin Daniels Staff Writer Richardson International Limited is announcing a significant investment in their canola crush plant in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. In addition to doubling its processing capacity to 2.2 million metric tonnes, the project will optimize operational efficiencies and modernize the facility to meet an ever-growing global demand for canola oil and canola meal products. “It’s exciting news. I can’t tell you how psyched we are,” said Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley when contacted Monday. “It will be the largest canola crushing facility in North America right here in our home town.” Hippsley said the expansion is important not just for its direct impact, but because it can have something of a ripple effect in the city. “The impact will be all kinds of positivity and hope for the city,” he said, adding if other businesses, especially those tied to agriculture, see Richardson willing to make a major investment in Yorkton, they may as well. “It helps underline Yorkton as being an agriculture centre,” he said. SaskCanola’s Board of Director Chair Bernie McClean said the expansion is extremely positive for the canola sector, and beyond. “It’s only good news for agriculture and the economy as a whole,” he said when contact by Yorkton This Week Monday. “It has to help the local economy. “I look at this as fantastic news.” McClean said the expansion should also spur canola producers in the Yorkton area to feel
confident in investing in the crop to boost production per acre, knowing the market exists locally. “It should really encourage producers,” he said. The Government of Saskatchewan was quick to welcome Richardson International Limited’s announcement. “This is a significant investment in our province that will create local jobs, support economic recovery and help our province continue to grow,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said in a release Monday. “As the world recovers from the economic impacts of the pandemic, there remains a growing need for the food products Saskatchewan produces, such as canola oil and canola meal, and we appreciate this investment and expansion at Richardson’s Yorkton canola crush plant, which will help meet that demand. Our government is committed to maintaining a competitive business environment to attract these types of investments, which will benefit all Saskatchewan residents, and we look forward to working with Richardson on this important project.” “Saskatchewan is a
The impact will be all kinds of positivity and hope for the city,” he said, adding if other businesses, especially those tied to agriculture, see Richardson willing to make a major investment in Yorkton, they may as well. — Mitch Hippsley, Mayor of Yorkton leader in agricultural production and we welcome this investment to increase canola crush capacity in the province,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said in the same government release. “We know the world wants the high quality products Saskatchewan produces, with canola oil and canola meal our top value-added exports in 2020. This expansion of processing capacity will help Saskatchewan meet the goals outlined in our Growth Plan, which includes a target to crush 75 per cent of the canola our province produces here in Saskatchewan. In the same release Richardson International President and CEO Curt Vossen noted the expan-
sion builds on a base started more than a decade ago. “We opened the original Yorkton plant in 2010 and at that time, it was by far the largest capital investment Richardson had ever undertaken,” he said. “Saskatchewan and Manitoba producers have responded effectively, providing growth in canola production over the years - this has given us the confidence to move forward with expansion once again. We have appreciated the encouragement and cooperation of the rural municipality of Orkney, the city of Yorkton, and the province of Saskatchewan.” When completed, the Yorkton facility will include a high-speed shipping system with
three 9,500-foot loop tracks, complementing infrastructure currently in place. It will be served by both major railways and will be dedicated to moving canola crush products at some of the most efficient levels seen in North America. Additional facility upgrades and improvements will effectively double processing capacity in excess of 2.2 million metric tonnes of seed. The site will also boast three high-speed receiving lanes, providing producers and trucking partners a fast and effective means for seed delivery. When contacted Monday, Kelcey Vossen, Communications and Public Relations with Richardson explained the company is “not commenting on the number at this stage,” in terms of the investment cost of the project, adding some details are still “to be fleshed out.” She did add the investment “obviously will be fairly significant.” The staffing levels during construction and those at the plant post construction were also not available Monday. Vossen did note that there will be permanent jobs created by the expansion terming those
“additive” and ones which will have “a good impact on the economy.” As a significant supplier to the global canola market, Richardson has been focused on improved operational efficiencies, modernization, and automation. With $120 million recently invested in their Lethbridge, Alberta crush plant, this latest investment in Yorkton will provide additional opportunities to producers to market their oilseed crop. “The global outlook for Canadian canola oil is promising, and this latest investment emphasizes our ongoing commitment to best in class facilities,” said Darrell Sobkow (Senior VicePresident, Processing, Food, and Ingredients). “Yorkton lies right in the heart of canola country and we are focused on providing our producer customers with increasingly efficient means for meeting the needs of a growing global consumptive market.” Construction will begin immediately with no disruption to current operations and is expected to be completed in early 2024. During the construction phase, there will be significant opportunities for employment within the area and upon completion, the company expects to add full-time positions to the plant. “This state-of-theart facility represents a good news story for all industry participants – for our producer customers and end-use buyers across North America and abroad,” said Keith Belitski (Director, Operations, Yorkton). “A construction project of this magnitude will be significant, economically, to the province of Saskatchewan, the city of Yorkton, and surrounding areas.”
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March 26, 2021 | This Week Marketplace
Myth Busting Weed Resistance Wendy Schatz Leeds, CCA, PAg Lead Agronomist Sharpe’s Crop Services We will be in the fields in no time for preseed weed removal and seeding this year’s crop. As agronomists, we talk about weed resistance on a regular basis. But how many of you are taking action and adopting preventative practices to keep weed resistance out of your fields? Let’s do some weed resistance myth
Myth #1 - Resistant weeds are not in my backyard. BUSTED • MORE THAN HALF of the seeded fields in Saskatchewan have herbicide resistant weeds - Dr. Hugh Beckie’s (scientist at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada)
newest resistance survey shows that the percentage of resistant weeds has risen sharply. He found that 57% of cropland surveyed contained weeds that were resistant to one or more herbicide modes of action. This number continues to grow every year! • 60% of prairie wild oat populations have Group 1 resistance, and 30% of populations have Group 2 resistance. It is estimated that 20-30% also have Group 8 resistance! • Canada ranks 3rd in the world for herbicide resistant weeds (after the US and Australia)! • There are 77 resistant weeds in Canada, with resistance to one or more herbicide group!
cides from 2 different groups will control herbicide resistant weeds. PLAUSIBLE
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This practice will work if BOTH herbicides have activity on the weed. Using a multimode of action herbicide strategy is an excellent way of preventing weed resistance. This is even more effective than rotating single herbicide groups or systems. Herbicide layering is also a great option. This means layering different groups throughout the growing season. Always ensure you follow label rates. What is in your tank mix??
Myth #3 – Integrated weed management can be a good resistance tool - CONFIRMED
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Canola Council launches revitalized market access strategy March 4, 2021 – As the second anniversary of restrictions facing seed exports to China approaches, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is launching its revitalized market access plan to prevent and resolve challenges in the future. The updated plan reflects the consensus of the canola value chain on how market access challenges are evolving, the priorities of the sector and how industry will work with government to create more stable and open trade. “Our revitalized market access strategy is important because it allows us to focus attention on how we can cre-
ate more stable and open trade for the entire canola value chain,” says Jim Everson, president of the CCC. “We’ve seen the real impact that market blockages and increased risk can have, and we’re excited to have a new road map to tackle these challenges.” Ongoing market access restrictions for canola seed to China continue to have a significant impact on the industry since they were first implemented on March 6, 2019. Seed exports to China have fallen from $2.8 billion in 2018 before the restrictions, to $800 million in 2019 and $1.4 billion in 2020. Expert analysis estimates this has cost
the industry between $1.54 and $2.35 billion from lost sales and lower prices between March 2019 and August 2020. “Our industry is seeing market access become more complex because of diverging international and domestic regulations on measures related to plant, animal and human health,” says Everson. “We continue to see barriers that prevent us from adopting new innovation and technology, as well as an ongoing need for vigilance on sustainability requirements for biofuel markets.” Within the plan, there are four main focus areas: Continued on Page A9
This Week Marketplace | March 26, 2021
Programs that benefit producers and the environment are win-win Whoever said “the grass is greener on the other side” must have been standing in Alberta or Manitoba. In 2020, Saskatchewan producers seeded a record-breaking 25,000 acres of grass through Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC’s) Forage Program. Overall acres enrolled in the program were up roughly 75 per cent from the previous year. Goals for this year’s program? Even higher. “Seeding forage ticks a lot of boxes for producers and I think we’ve seen an increase in interest in our programs as a result of that,” says Trevor Plews, DUC’s head of conservation programs in Saskatchewan. While forage crops provide sustainable grazing sources for livestock, they’re also part of sound land management, and deliver many agro-ecosystem benefits. Planted forages diversify crop rotations, help prevent erosion, retain nutrients, and provide much-needed pollinator habitat. When used in crop margins, they can reduce herbicide resistant weeds, act as buffer zones to meet product label guidelines and help manage clubroot issues in canola crops. DUC’s Forage Conversion Program assists with field-scale conversion of cultivated areas and pays $35/ acre toward the cost of seeding. Uptake of this program has nearly tripled since 2017 with 396 Saskatchewan farmers participating over the last three years. The Marginal Areas Program (MAP) has been equally successful, burgeoning more than 10-fold in the same time period. MAP was created for grain producers to trial the use forages to address salinity and other agronomic challenges. This program offers an option for farmers who have identified areas on their farm where they are realizing negative return
on investment and pays a financial incentive of $125/acre to seed these areas to forage. In 2020, 40 Saskatchewan landowners took part. One aspect of MAP that is attracting attention is the Pollinator Power Pak. This seed blend is a mixture of short- and long-lived perennial species that improves the value of the stand specifically for pollinators; it’s provided to producers enrolled in the program at no charge. The Power Pak supports populations of native pollinator species and honeybees that are critical to pollination of agricultural crops such as canola and soybeans. While producers appreciate the injection of cash into their farm operations, many also find that DUC’s programs fit with their existing conservation goals. Mervin Mann operates Mann Bros. Ranch Ltd. and has been a DUC program participant since 2017. “DUC’s Forage Program has provided us with financial support toward stand reestablishment while allowing us to continue operating in the manor we are accustomed to,” Mann says. “Committing our land to 10 years in grass is our way of playing some small part in the
conservation of nature and wildlife.” In fact, increasing perennial cover on Saskatchewan’s landscape does exactly that, delivering environmental spin-offs like habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects, water quality improvements and carbon storage. “That’s what makes DUC’s Forage Program a real win-win,” says Plews. “When we land on solutions that not only benefit producers, both financially and agronomically, but also support a healthy environment, we all come away better off.“
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CANOLA Continued from Page 8 • Eliminate tariffs and tariff differentials to expand markets and create more stability; • Create a predictable trading environment through science-based sanitary and phytosanitary rules; • Enable technology advancements and access to innovation and technology; and • Enable market growth, increased value and trade diversification through
biofuel and sustainability approvals. Implementing the strategy requires a cooperative approach between industry and government. The Government of Canada – coordinated through the Market Access Secretariat of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – is an important partner to prevent and resolve market access issues. For more information, visit canolacouncil.org/marketaccess.
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March 26, 2021 | This Week Marketplace
Record Saskatchewan agriculture exports in 2020 2020 was a record year for agricultural exports in Saskatchewan, helping the province lead the nation in growth of overall export sales over the previous year. Saskatchewan produced $16.9 billion in agricultural exports last year, a 31 per cent increase from 2019 and a new high for the province. This represents more than 55 per cent of total provincial exports in 2020, which were valued at $30.4 billion. This helps bring the province closer to meeting its Growth Plan goals, which include growing agri-food exports to $20 billion and increasing agriculture value-added revenue to $10 billion by 2030. These strong export numbers also reinforce Saskatchewan’s global reputation as a dependable source of safe, high-
quality resources, goods and products. Overall merchandise export sales in 2020 were more than $30 billion, up 2.5 per cent over 2019, the highest percentage increase among the provinces. On a national basis, exports were down 12.2 per cent over the same period. Leading agriculture exports in 2020 continue to be canola seed, nondurum wheat, lentils, canola oil and durum wheat. “The global COVID19 pandemic has hit all economies hard worldwide, but these export numbers are strong signs our province is in a positive position for economic recovery in 2021,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “With our world-class and growing export base,
we have what the world wants and needs, and it will continue to drive investment and jobs for communities right across Saskatchewan.” In 2020, major increases in exports were seen in farm and intermediate food products; forestry products and building and packaging materials; and industrial machinery, equipment, and parts. Saskatchewan’s top international markets for 2020 include the United States, China, Japan and India. Saskatchewan agrifood export destinations are diverse in nature. Top markets for Saskatchewan agri-food exports in 2020 were United States, China, Japan, India and Mexico. “Saskatchewan producers grow safe, high-quality food that the world
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needs and our agriculture exporters remain committed to providing the world with these products,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said. “I want to commend our producers on their hard work and resilience, which led to a new record in agri-food exports for 2020.” Increases in primary
production as well as a growing value-added sector have contributed to the record agrifood export growth in Saskatchewan. In 2020, value-added exports were $3.2 billion. Canola oil, canola meal and processed oats were our top value-added products. Currently, Government
Saskatchewan is working to open three new trade offices in Singapore, Japan and India in 2021 to support increased export diversification. The new offices will complement the existing trade office in China, and continued access to Asian markets will benefit our key economic sectors.
Farm Stress Line seeing an increase in calls Spencer Kemp - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (The WorldSpectator - Moosomin) Many producers have turned to the Farm Stress Line to help deal with some of the stress and feelings of isolation brought on by the job. Acting Executive Director of Saskatchewan Mobile Crisis Services which oversees the Farm Stress Line, Jan Thorson, says that in the last quarter of 2020 the agency has seen an increase in calls, followed by a seasonal decrease. “I can certainly say for the last quarter with what we have statistically available to us, yes we did see an uptake over the summer and into the fall. We don’t have our early winter statistics back yet, but I would suggest that there’s been a slight drop-off just because of the time of year and the stresses of farming aren’t as great in the winter in many cases. We suspect that will turn around again in the spring and we will see more calls to the line.” Thorson said. The Farm Stress Line provides a service to producers in Saskatchewan who feel the pressure of their job and provides an opportunity to normalize their concerns. “The Farm Stress Line is a gateway service. It’s a place to bring your immediate concerns, talk with a professionally trained counselor who can help you normalize some of the things you’re going through, and help you decide if you need more help. We have a resource bank of referrals that we can make for people if they feel they need more help. I think the main thing we do is provide normalization, assure people that this is a normal response to a very difficult situation across the globe. We encourage them to call us at any time as often as they need to if that will be helpful for them.” Said Thorson. Concerns raised by producers were largely around the stress of being isolated during the pandemic. Thorson noted that the increase in isolation due to the pandemic has lead to increased depression amongst the producer.
“The main issues brought up to us are around mental health concerns, concerns about depression, isolation, those kinds of things. Family disputes and addictions too.” Thorson explained that they have been implementing a new system to help track COVID-19 related concerns from producers as they currently do not have a system in place. This new system as it’s implemented will provide Mobile Crisis Services with additional information and will better allow them to keep track of statistics. “It’s not something that we track specifically with our statistics, but we made some changes so we will be able to do that, but it won’t be until down the road until we get that data back. But I think what’s been hard for farmers has been the isolation that the current health orders have produced. And I’d say that across the board for all our clients, that’s been very difficult for people, particularly people who live alone or do not have access to a friend or family group, don’t have great wi-fi or internet access.” With the stress of COVID-19 at the forefront of many producer’s minds, Thorson reminds farmers of a few ways to deal with some of the stress. “I would say, particularly during COVID, it’s very important to maintain contact with your friends or family, whether that be through telephone calls or zoom meetings. I would really encourage them to reach out to someone they’re close to at least once a day.” Thorson also reminds producers to participate in some self-care, which can help reduce stress. “Go easy on yourself, everybody is suffering right now and it’s okay to not be managing this as well as you may think you should be. Whatever you feel you need to do to make yourself feel better is fine unless it’s destructive.” The Farm Stress Line is available 24/7 and can be reached at 1-800-6674442 The Mobile Crisis Services also provides services for gambling addictions and a suicide hotline as well as a general crisis hotline for those who need it.
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This Week Marketplace | March 26, 2021
Estevan, Sask. looks to canola-based diesel for jobs transition Evan Radford Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (The Leader-Post (Regina) Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig hopes a proposed renewable diesel refinery in the area helps his city secure long-term jobs. Two coal-fired units at SaskPower’s boundary dam are to close down this year and in 2024. “We can’t turn the clock back on that. Of course we’re looking at how do we transition for jobs in our area to keep the economic development moving forward?” he said.
To that end, Estevan is working with Covenant Energy CEO Josh Gustafson on his company’s pitch for a large renewable diesel refinery in the area. Thanks to a provincial funding pot of $8 million over three years, the city and nearby communities have provided Covenant with $200,000 to do a feasibility study for the refinery. Gustafson projects the refinery would process 6,500 barrels of renewable diesel per day. He said renewable diesel is different from biodiesel. Both use oil from
crushed canola seeds, but renewable diesel refines the oil in a process resembling what’s done with fossil-based crude. It means there’s little oxygen left in renewable canola-based diesel, which allows it to be used in sub-zero temperatures. The refining process uses hydrogen and a catalyst, Gustafson said.
By using canola oil as a starting point, there’s “no ash or metals” left in a vehicle’s engine when it burns the refined product, he said. Based on Covenant’s initial research, the company said in a media release the facility will yield “greenhouse gas emission reductions in the range of 80 to 85 per cent when compared
to fossil fuel diesel.” It’s also to use recycled hydrogen in the refining process. The renewable diesel would be sold to fuel distributors like Husky or Shell or Co-op, who would blend it into their diesel products sold to consumers. The projected start year is 2023, though Gustafson doesn’t yet have a firm month or specific location nailed down. He hopes it will be in southeast Saskatchewan in the Estevan area. Covenant suggests the facility’s operation will
create a maximum 60 permanent jobs. Ludwig said Estevan’s goal is to “create wellpaying jobs in our community to make up for some of the potential job losses we see coming down the pike.” Gustafson is also predicting a boost to the province’s agricultural sector, concluding based on his research the facility will create annual demand for 35 million bushels of canola seed. Covenant Energy is based in Macoun, about 25 kilometres northwest of Estevan.
Improvements to Kirkella Community Pasture Spencer Kemp - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (The WorldSpectator - Moosomin) A 3,250-acre community pasture in the RM of Wallace-Woodworth has had significant improvements. that was completed in 2020. The Kirkella Community Pasture received funding through The Conservation Trust, a fund made available through the Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative which is delivered via the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation. The funding was brought to the attention of the RM of WallaceWoodworth thanks to the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association (MFGA), according to Garth Mitchell, CAO of Wallace-Woodworth. “It was brought to our attention through the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association that we would be a prime candidate to access some development funds through the Conservation Trust. So it was through a three-way relationship that we made this development,” said Garth Mitchell, Chief Administrative Officer of Wallace-Woodworth He says that the MFGA played a key role in helping guide the RM through the application process, as well as throughout the rest of the project. The Kirkella
Community Pasture is located near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, just north of the Trans-Canada highway and is made available to producers in the RM to utilize. Producers can pay a fee and book cattle into the community pasture to graze. Through the grant, the community pasture had improvements made that helped resolve some concerns around the grazing area and water supply. “The WallaceWoodworth Kirkella Community Pasture has been operated by the municipality for a number of years, and we’ve always been looking for ways to improve and provide a better community pasture. We were fortunate enough to access some funds through The Conservation Trust. We partnered with The Conservation Trust group and the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association to do some renovations. A lot of scrubbing for fence areas and improving some better pasture area, as well as the creation of some more stable water supplies, then some fencing to isolate and allow the usage of those in the pasture throughout the year,” said Mitchell. The biggest concern that was tackled was the issue with the water supply. In past years, there have been dry spells that have proven difficult for
producers. To remedy this, three dugouts were installed in the pasture. “I think the secure water supply, these are three very large dugouts and they’re fenced off in paddock areas so they can be accessed in various areas of the pasture. Water for cattle is very important as we’ve been through some dry times in the past, so we can’t always guarantee on the smaller sources. SO these large water sources are going to be very important.” The total cost of the project came to $200,000. The MFGA assisted the RM of WallaceWoodworth through the project as it was one of the first projects through the grant and they wanted to inspire others to apply for funding from the Conservation Trust. According to Executive Director with the MFGA, Duncan Morrison, they hope it acts as a flagship for others to utilize the available money. “The Manitoba Government rolled out a program called the Conservation Trust which is essentially an endowment fund based on an investment which allowed groups like Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association to partner with others, in this case, the Rural Municipality of WallaceWoodworth,” Morrison explained. The project saw mul-
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tiple improvements made on the pasture which included major scrubbing of woody pasture species that affected grazing and the construction of three dugouts to provide water for cattle and wildlife. Additionally, new fences were installed to help streamline the process of grazing rotations. “They were concerned about drought. They knew they wanted to get water onto the pasture. They strategically placed three 1,000,000 gallon dugouts to help, and then that became the foundation for their other work. They were able to plan better fencing etcetera.”
“The focus on water management in the pasture was a very key driver,” Morrison said. The encroachment of the woody species was also a key driver in the project, according to Morrison. “There was quite a bit of encroachment and woody species that were coming into the pasture, and it was affecting the quality of the pasture certainly from a grazing perspective. They did a massive mowing process to push back the shrubbery and open up large amounts of previously non-grazed acres.” MFGA also provided the project with
a review on the pasture through experts in rangeland health and from Assiniboine West Watershed District, who looked over the pasture and suggested different enhancements that could be made. Morrison explained that this project was extremely important to them as grasslands are shrinking and this area not only benefited cattle and producers but also the wildlife as well. “It’s going to be great for grazing, it’s going to be great for wildlife, and it’s great for the producers who are going to use it.”
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March 26, 2021 | This Week Marketplace
Prairie farmers and ranchers can further enhance biodiversity on their land through new Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative Ducks Unlimited Canada joins forces with foundation and prairie producers to benefit local environment Winnipeg, March 4, 2021 – Prairie farmers and ranchers are key partners in one of the largest prairie grassland conservation efforts in Canadian history. Announced yesterday, the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative supports organizations that are working with local communities to deliver conservation solutions that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. As one of the organizations involved, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) will work collaboratively with prairie farmers, ranchers and other landowners to protect grasslands and wetlands over the next five years. Grasslands and wetlands are essential to a resilient landscape, and it is through these partnerships that producers can be compensated for their ongoing conservation efforts. “DUC has been working on the Canadian Prairies since our organization was established more than 80 years ago,”
says Karla Guyn, chief executive officer for DUC. “We have a strong relationship with, and a deep respect for, the farmers and ranchers who steward the lands that support biodiversity in Canada. Working together, we can unite
the needs of conservation and agriculture on this important working landscape.” Over the next five years, the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative will contribute $5 million to DUC’s conservation easement
program that will see more than 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of vital habitat protected. This contribution directly benefits agricultural producers while maintaining Canada’s biodiversity and providing habitat for a wide var-
iety of species including waterfowl, songbirds and pollinators. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and DUC to preserve natural features and resources on their land. Under these agree-
ments, the habitats are protected in perpetuity, but the land remains in private ownership and in grassland-based agricultural production. “It’s exciting to see what can be accomplished by bringing Canadians together to find innovative and sustainable approaches to restoring and protecting biodiversity,” said Tamara Rebanks, chair of the Weston Family Foundation. “Our Foundation is committed to supporting landscapelevel efforts to find solutions to our environmental challenges and, ultimately, improve the wellbeing of Canadians.” The funding DUC is receiving for its programs is part of nearly $25 million in grants that have been awarded to five organizations across the country. The Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative will support projects that conserve nearly four million acres of priority prairie grassland habitat by actively engaging landowners and agricultural producers.
This Week Marketplace | March 26, 2021
Varying moisture conditions continue in March Runoff Report Today, the Water Security Agency (WSA) released its updated spring runoff report for March 2021, continuing to show varying conditions across the province. Compared to the February report, a wider band of the northern and central parts of Saskatchewan, encompassing Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Melfort and La Ronge area are expected to experience a near normal runoff. WSA snow surveys conducted in the latter part of February showed some higher levels of snowpack existed through parts of central Saskatchewan, especially Saskatoon. Pockets of southwestern Saskatchewan are also expected to receive a near normal runoff including Kindersley, Leader and Cypress Hills. The report also continued to confirm the lower moisture conditions for many other parts of central and southern Saskatchewan. A band encompassing North
Battleford, Swift Current and Regina are still expected to receive a below normal runoff, while most of the far south including Assiniboia, Estevan and Weyburn are anticipated to receive a well below normal runoff. Conditions over southcentral and south eastern areas, particularly east of Highway 4 and south of Highway 1, are particularly dry and have a snowmelt runoff potential. While surface water supplies at larger reservoirs are expected to be met in 2021, users that rely on smaller reservoirs/ dugouts may see shortages continue or emerge in 2021 if snowpack conditions do not improve. Low levels on recreational lakes may occur during the summer months, particularly in the Qu’Appelle Valley. While the snowpack is not overly heavy in the far north, encompassing the areas of Uranium City, Stony Rapids and Cluff Lake, the extreme wet conditions carrying through last fall continue to indi-
cate a higher-than-normal runoff potential for these areas. At this time, however, unless there is significant precipitation prior to or during the spring melt and/or a rapid melt, flooding from snowmelt runoff in 2021 is considered a lower risk. Ice on waterbodies also poses a risk during the melt period. While the risk of ice jamming is lower this spring with the expectation of below normal runoff, ice on waterbodies does become unpredictable and dangerous during the melt period and should be avoided. WSA reminds the public that the runoff potential and response can change depending on future snow accumulations and weather during the melt. WSA will monitor conditions through to the completion of the runoff event. A final runoff report is expected to be issued in early April unless runoff is complete or near complete over most areas.
Wawanesa Insurance contributes generous $100K to Assiniboine’s Prairie Innovation Centre Brandon, Man. (March 9, 2021)—Assiniboine Community College’s Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture has received a generous contribution of $100,000 from Wawanesa Insurance. The campaign to build this state-of-the-art facility on the college’s North Hill campus is Assiniboine’s largest philanthropic undertaking, and aims to address the growing needs of the agriculture sector. “Looking after one another is at the heart of
who we are at Wawanesa Insurance. That’s why we’re proud to support the college, its students and the Prairie Innovation Centre. Together with Assiniboine, we share a commitment to making our community a better place to live and learn, and at Wawanesa, we know all of the Westman region will benefit from the new Centre,” said Kevin Bailey, Regional Vice President – Central Region, Wawanesa Insurance. This one-of-a-kind Canadian college project
will bring together collaborative learning spaces, applied research labs, multipurpose spaces and amenities that will serve both industry and the college community. Creating an enhanced agricultural training capacity, the Centre will enable the agriculture secto economic driver in the Canadian and Manitoban
economy. “The Prairie Innovation Centre will not only address the current and developing gaps in the labour market in Manitoba agriculture, it will also be a hub for agricultural innovation, encouraging engagement and collaboration with industry partners to address emerging situa-
tions and issues,” said Derrick Turner, Director of Advancement and External Relations at Assiniboine. “The college looks forward to building upon the relationships we have with partners, like Wawanesa Insurance, while creating a meaningful impact on the future of agriculture.”
This partnership comes as Wawanesa Insurance marks its 125th anniversary while Assiniboine celebrates the 60th anniversary of the college—notable milestones for two organizations with longstanding roots in the Westman community and in agriculture. -- Submitted
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March 26, 2021 | This Week Marketplace
When is that trespass law going to be proclaimed? When there is an app for that By Brian Zinchuk Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Estevan Mercury Regina – Saskatchewan passed a new trespassing law several years ago, of particular interest to rural residents, but has not yet proclaimed it. One of the rural municipality counsellors taking part in the provincial cabinet “bear pit” session during the virtual Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention on March 10 asked what was going on with that. It turns out, the delay is linked to an app which can be used to ensure you are inbounds with the legislation. Justice Minister Gord Wyant
responded, “You’re correct, we’ve passed the legislation, we’re waiting to proclaim it. “There’s been a significant amount of collaboration that’s been done with respect to ensuring that we have some public education around the issue to make sure that we have a good communication strategy and there’s been some work being done across ministries with respect to the preparation of an application, so that so that we can have the proper implementation of the legislation. That work is proceeding, and I understand that it’s proceeding quite quickly now, so we’re still very hopeful, but we need to make sure that we have the right vehicle in place to
ensure that people can have access to the information that they need so that they’re not offending the legislation. Wyant continued, “The last thing that we would want to do is proclaim the legislation without having the proper tools in place, and while there’s been a lot of work that’s been done, as I say, we’re fairly close, at least that’s my understanding. So we’re hopeful. We know how important it is to people in rural Saskatchewan around this piece of legislation, that’s why we brought it forward. We also want to make sure that when we proclaim it, that the appropriate tools are in place to make sure that it’s effective and efficient. Otherwise, I think we fail. So, you can look forward
to some more information on this in the near future, and we’ll continue to work on it as diligently as we can. Premier Scott Moe added the is ready to be proclaimed. “We will be proclaiming it at some point in time, we do want to ensure there’s the sufficient amount of support infrastructure around this piece of legislation when we do proclaim it. As well, we want to ensure that there’s no unintended consequences that should arise as well and so there’s that last look happening, in that last piece of consultation in which SARM is involved, right now, but we will be moving forward when we can, you know, ensure that those those two pieces are checked.”
Agriculture Safety Week held in March The Government of Saskatchewan proclaimed March 14-20, 2021, as Agricultural Safety Week in Saskatchewan. “Agricultural Safety Week provides the opportunity to remind everyone that agriculture safety matters year round, on and off the farm,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said. “Physical and mental health are of the utmost importance and everyone must do their part to ensure we are all able to return home to our loved ones at the end of each day.” “Using safety precautions year round is incredibly important to ensure that those who work on a farm return home safely,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. “Having safe farms in our province will help us continue to grow our
agri-food exports here in Saskatchewan and build stronger families and communities.” Saskatchewan recognizes Canadian Agricultural Safety Week annually in conjunction with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association. Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is focused on helping producers, families and communities lead the agricultural industry in safety and sustainability. This year’s theme, Lead an Ag Safe Canada, was the second of a threeyear farm safety campaign; Safe and Strong Farms. This year, virtual AgSafe ribbons are available for download from the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association website. Please visit www.saskatchewan.ca/ farmsafety
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This Week Marketplace | March 26, 2021
Saskatchewan producers branded as environmental stewardship champs Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) has announced it has secured $840,000 in additional funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to continue working with landowners to protect Greater SageGrouse critical habitat in Saskatchewan. ECCC’s Species at Risk Partnership on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) fund supports projects that are committed to engaging the agricultural sector to preserve key wildlife habitats today and in the future. SSGA President Kelcy Elford explains, “We are building on the success of SARPAL’s first five years. This second iteration of funding ensures that we can forge ahead with the innovative work we are doing
with Grasslands National Park (GNP).” “ECCC is working in partnership with the agricultural sector to conserve and protect biodiversity in the Canadian Prairies and across the country,” states the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Through the SARPAL fund, we are conserving important grass and habitat for species at risk like the Greater SageGrouse.” Between 2015 and 2020, SSGA has signed more than 40 conservation agreements with landowners, protecting a total of 250,000 acres of grassland and critical habit for species at risk in southwest Saskatchewan. Elford says over the next three years, “Our project
will focus on continuing the grass-bank we established in partnership with GNP as well as investigating the development of producer-friendly term conservation easements. Native grasslands in these areas are an important forage resource for the cow-calf sector and are the last refuge for many species at risk in the province, which means these grasslands are valuable from ecological, cultural and economical standpoints.” Elford explains, “Five years ago, we surveyed producers and it was apparent many producers were not interested in conservation easements in perpetuity. However, there were a number of landowners who did show sincere interest in conservation easements that would be
developed to meet their unique circumstances, but signed only for a fixed term, to support succession planning. We want to interview producers to learn more about their current opinions. That’s one of the reasons we established Saskatchewan Stock Growers Foundation (SSGF). We needed a committed group to lead that charge.” SSGF Board Chair Ray McDougald adds, “SSGF is a registered charity recognized by Canada Revenue Agency, and approved by Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment as an official conservation easement holder. We set up the Foundation to be at an arm’s length from SSGA, so the Foundation would be the holder when conservation ease-
USask awarded $3.2M towards first-in-Canada engineering biology centre for ag innovation By USask Research Profile and Impact Saskatoon – The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will invest $3.2 million in a unique biomanufacturing facility at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) that will use cutting-edge “engineering biology” technologies to accelerate agri-food innovation and help address food security needs. Developing canola varieties more resistant to climate change, flavourings for the plantbased meat industry, and non-animal enzyme alternatives for the dairy industry are a sample of the innovations to be advanced by the new Engineering Biology Agri-food Innovation Centre within the university’s Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS). “This new centre will establish the University of Saskatchewan as the national node for engineering biology applications in agriculture and food that will accelerate science and innovation,” said USask VicePresident Research Dr.
Baljit Singh. “Using automation and other emerging technologies, our researchers will harness the power of biology to design more nutritious and sustainable crop varieties and food products.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced more than $518 million to support the infrastructure needs of universities and research institutions across the country. Engineering biology is an exploding new field that combines genomics and molecular biology with high-performance computing, automation, and artificial intelligence, potentially transforming what we eat, medicines we take, and fuels we use. A May 2020 report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates engineering biology could have a global economic impact of up to $4 trillion in the next 10 to 20 years, with more than a third of this direct annual impact in the agri-food area. “Essentially, engineering biology uses biological machinery of
cells to make useful tools and products,” said GIFS Executive Director and CEO Steve Webb, who is also a member of the National Engineering Biology Steering Committee. An example is flavourings added to pea-based proteins (such as myoglobin and hemoglobin) to make plant-based burgers taste like a regular meat-based burger. The iron-containing molecule heme is highly concentrated in red meat but can also be found in plants. The CFI funding, made through its Innovation Fund, will be used for critical infrastructure including robots, computers, cell culture systems, and other equipment for the centre. Another $5 million is being sought from private and public sources. “Engineering biology integrates automation, biology and computation—the ‘ABC’ approach—to advance research and new product development by accelerating the designbuild-test-and-learn cycle. This technology
platform provides the capacity for research and development that is beyond the reach of traditional approaches,” Webb said. “This will help us Continued on Page 16
Greater Sage-Grouse taken by Sherri Grant of Val Marie, SK. ments are signed.” “Canadian farmers are responsible stewards of the land who understand the importance of conservation to the long-term sustainability of agricultural lands. By supporting the Stock Growers’ conservation initiatives, we can protect important wildlife habitats of the prairie grasslands and get closer to our goal of preserving 25 per cent of land areas by 2025,” states the Honourable MarieClaude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada. With the goal of helping the federal govern-
ment protect 25 per cent of Canada’s ag land, freshwater and oceans by 2025, McDougald and Elford agree, “ SSGF will continue to develop programs that support landowners in conserving grasslands and forage while protecting species at risk today and in the future. On top of feeding a growing population amidst climate change and a host of other uncontrollable risk factors, participating in these projects is yet another reason Saskatchewan producers have been branded as environmental stewardship champs.” --Submitted
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March 26, 2021 | This Week Marketplace
Parkland College to offer new Farm Hand Training Course Parkland College has announced the launch of Introduction to Farm Hand, a new program developed to meet the labour needs of growing farm operations. Introduction to Farm Hand is a short course that provides the basic skills and hands-on
training needed to work on a grain farm in Saskatchewan. The first course module, beginning April 17, focuses on seeding and the busy spring season. “This program is designed to meet the need for more skilled labour on Saskatche-
wan’s farms,” said Connie Brown, Manager of Business Development at Parkland College. “Farmers can send current or potential employees through the program to develop their skills. And it gives general labourers without a farm background the oppor-
tunity to gain the experience needed to work in agriculture.” Participants will receive a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on experience over three Saturdays: April 17, April 24, and May 1.The Town of Lemberg is partnering
with the College to host the training, at the town office and at a nearby farm. The course provides an overview of field crops, Power Mobile Equipment theory, and hands-on training with selected pieces of farm equipment. Participants
will also learn about basic farm safety and moving equipment safely around work sites. Interested individuals can sign up or get more information at www.parklandcollege.sk.ca or by calling 306.786.2760 -- Submitted
pharmacy researcher Jane Alcorn will use the platform to create compounds for discovering new drug candidates. USask nutrition researcher Carol Henry will use new protein variants produced at the facility to improve the nutritional quality of foods. Agricultural researcher Bobbi Helgason will use the facility to enhance plant-microbial interactions that help plants with stress tolerance. Key researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the National Research Council, and the private sector will also use the platform. The centre’s technology platform—which will comprise separate
“suites” for engineering biology, proteomics and genomics, and metabolomics (the study of small molecules in an organism)—will be integrated into the workflow of GIFS’s existing technology platforms, which include the Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL), Data Management and Analytics, and Cell Biology. With its focus on agriculture and food, the new centre will be an important node within the Canadian Engineering Biology Network which includes other universities, research organizations and companies in Canada. The centre will enable collaboration with other Canadian uni-
versities that have biofoundries, as well as with industry and international partners such as the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Singapore.
AG INNOVATION Continued from Page 15 develop new plant varieties that can withstand climate change, as well as nutritious food products and natural products with medical benefits such as specialized proteins that kill bacteria.” Webb said researchers in academe and industry will be able to order from the centre’s bio-manufacturing facility or “biofoundry” the DNA, RNA, peptides, and other proteins needed for their studies. As the recent McKinsey study notes, the first wave of genetically engineered crops in the 1990s has been referred to as GMOs—organisms with foreign (transgenic) genetic material introduced. Today, with mark-
er-assisted breeding and other advances in genetic engineering such as gene editing, breeders can use DNA markers linked to desirable traits to select these traits without using transgenic approaches. USask plant scientist Tim Sharbel, lead researcher on the team, said engineering biology will enable the team to take the next step in the application of genomics to agriculture. “We can now identify important genes but translating this into something that’s useful to industry and beneficial to society is a gap that’s been very difficult until now,” said Sharbel. Marrying biological science with the power of automation and comput-
ers will enable scientists to run many tests in parallel, rather than manually conducting them one at a time, enabling the rapid production and testing of thousands of gene and protein variants for development of new products and plant varieties. More than 20 researchers across campus are part of the user team that will employ the new platform for crop improvement and health applications, including food, nutrition and pharmaceuticals. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to apply engineering biology to address real-world problems in agriculture and food production. For instance, USask
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Creation of an engineering biology “platform” for innovation in agriculture and food products is aligned with the vision in the national steering committee’s November 2020 white paper which identifies food security as one of three sectors where Canada can lead in the application of engineering biology.
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This Week Marketplace | March 26, 2021
Agronomy site looks to tech to grow studies Evan Radford Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (The Leader-Post (Regina) A new combine and a new drone are among the items on the shopping list for a small-plot agriculture research site hoping to grow a bit bigger thanks to an influx of research money. The Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation (IHARF) recently received $727,470 from the Western Grains Research Foundation, a non-profit research group funded by farmers and based in Saskatoon. IHARF is to use the money to buy processing and analytical equipment, field equipment, a tractor, a drone, weather stations, a plot-combine and a drying shed, according to a news release issued last week announcing the funding. Research manager Chris Holzapfel said the drone they’re eyeing can make thermal image readings from the air, capturing a fairly large area of land. It will allow IHARF members to deduce soil moisture conditions on the surface and at certain depths below ground, he explained. A potential example of applying that to regular farming practices would be in an irrigation-type
operation. A thermal-scanning drone could tell the user if an irrigation piping system has sprung an underground water leak; cooler temperatures tend to mean extra moisture. “(The drone will) allow us to do a lot of in-season measurements … We’ve historically used handheld sensors, measuring individual leaves” while walking through a plot, Holzapfel said. Another application would be checking a crop’s health: “If plants are dying off due to disease, that could have a different thermal signature,” than if they’re thriving. IHARF’s research plots sit on the east side of Indian Head, which is about an hour east of Regina. Depending on funds available and the season, team members will have between 2,000 and 3,000 plots operating in a single calendar year, executive manager Danny Petty said. Those plots are divided between 45 to 60 projects per year. One plot can be as small as 280 square feet; the maximum size for one plot is 490 square feet. One acre of farmland is equal to 43,560 square feet. Petty said after researchers draw conclusions from a given project, they’ll “host field days and seminars throughout the winter to pass on those results to farmers
and agronomists … We typically have our main field day in the middle of July.” Holzapfel also listed some of the site’s past research findings. Agronomists there found pulse crops (like lentils or chick peas) have a tendency to absorb some nitrogen in the air around them; the plants convert it into ammonium gas, which they use as a kind of self-made fertilizer. It could allow producers to apply less fertilizer to their pulses, while possibly reducing nitrogen runoff into creeks and rivers. The most recent spring runoff report from the Water Security Agency (WSA), released at the beginning of March, shows varied moisture conditions through the province. The WSA forecasts some northern and central areas are to see near normal runoffs, like around Saskatoon. The report showed low moisture conditions for other parts of central and southern Saskatchewan. The WSA expects a stretch of area including North Battleford, Swift Current and Regina to have below normal runoff. It predicts southeastern areas to receive a well below normal runoff.
More Canadians actively looking to buy Canadian Food Spencer Kemp - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (The WorldSpectator - Moosomin) A survey by Farm Credit Canada indicates that more Canadians are actively seeking out Canadian-produced food. The survey, conducted between January 8 and 12, 2021, saw six out of 10 Canadians say they are more likely to purchase Canadian-made or Canadian-grown food. “We had surveyed 2000 Canadians across the country, reflective of how the country is divided, and the reason we did it is in advance of Canada’s Agriculture Day, this one day a year where we celebrate Canadian food, we just wanted to know what consumers were thinking,” said Marty Seymour, Director of Industry Relations with FCC. Seymour’s family comes from Carnduff, Saskatchewan where they grew canola and raised cattle. The survey showed around 56 per cent of Canadians are more likely to look for Canadianmade or grown food while 50 per cent are more likely to think about how their food is grown. “I think this means opportunity, in the last ten years in agriculture we’ve been talking about trust in food and for me, it’s somewhat inspiring to see that six in ten Canadians, since the pandemic, are more likely to buy Canadiangrown food. That to me is a clear demonstration that consumers trust Canadians and I think part of it infers the idea that we are supporting
A canola field just west of Moosomin. A study shows that Canadians are eating more Canadian food since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Canadian companies. We see that in retail we see that in food and we see it everywhere.” In the same survey, eight out of 10 Canadians say that Canada’s food system and agricultural sector have adapted and responded well to the pandemic, a total of 94 per cent of respondents say they support Canada’s agricultural sector. Seymour noted an ongoing discussion regarding producers and their appreciation. Seymour says the survey shows many producers
The Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation (IHARF) operates between 2,000 and 3,000 small plots in a given year, depending on funding. The research site, pictured here, is east of Regina in Indian Head, Sask.
do not feel that they are appreciated by the public. The survey found that 91 per cent of respondents agreed with this sentiment. “I think there’s always tension within the farm community whether farmers feel appreciated or not. I think that’s fair. Maybe what this research does is validate with a third party that these farmers are appreciated. I think it’s also interesting that 80% of people are just now learning more about how their food is produced.
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“I don’t care what industry you’re in, when people want to understand how you make or grow your food, that just brings you closer to your customers and I think the outcome to that loyalty to the Canadian food production system,” Seymour explained. “In the early days of the pandemic, when we were looking for N-95 masks and everybody was trying to get their PPE for food processing, people were unsure about the Canadian food system, but now nine out of ten Canadians in our research said that we should celebrate the industry. I think that’s pretty cool when there are these people who aren’t even connected to the food industry saying we should celebrate them.” Seymour noted that Continued on Page 18
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March 26, 2021 | This Week Marketplace
Add atmospheric drying – and potential lower crop yields – to climate change toll By Max Martin Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (London Free Press) Drier air brought on by climate change could put a dent in crop yields, triggering smaller and slower-growing plants, a new study says. “Globally, the atmosphere is drying as the climate warms up,” said Danielle Way, an associate professor of biology at Western University. “That’s been correlated with reduced crop yield.” Because air wants to hold as much water as possible, it starts to pull moisture from plants as its dries, with potentially devastating impacts on crops and vegetation. Way, working with researchers at the University of Minnesota, studied 50 years of data and 112 plant species, including wheat, corn and birch trees, to assess how they’re affected by drier air. The recently published findings show plants react to atmospheric drying — even if they don’t lack water in the soil — by triggering a drought-like response, growing smaller, shorter and slower. “Basically, they’re try-
Photo by Mike Hensen/The London Free Press
Mike Orosz plows a field north of London. A new study by a Western University researcher says a drier atmosphere brought on by climate change could reduce crop yields. Danielle Way, an associate professor of biology, said climate change poses a particular risk to northern countries like Canada. It’s that phenomenon that could result in hiked-up farming costs and decreased crop productivity, Way warns, with spinoff effects on
ing to reduce how much leaf surface there is for the water to evaporate off of,” Way said. “They’re acting like they’re drought-stressed.”
food costs and availability. Green spaces and trees are also at risk of the phenomenon. “This actually might
be just as significant as having dry soil,” Way said. While the study noted impacts on crops from India to the midwestern United States, Way said Southwestern Ontario’s farm belt would also be impacted by increased dry air. “Northern countries like Canada are particularly at risk from climate change,” she said, adding the country’s temperature could rise six degrees Celsius in the next 80 years. Atmospheric drying has been observed worldwide for the past 20 years and is expected to rise as global warming intensifies. Although dry soil is still a challenge for farmers, Way said irrigation can address that issue. But there’s no way to humidify the air, making
atmospheric drying a big risk. On the positive side, Way said her research could be used in the development of crops more resistant to atmospheric drying. Within the study, the team found some plants, including certain varieties of wheat, are less stressed by dry air than others. “That variation is something we can use to breed more droughttolerant crop species to minimize the effect” of atmospheric drying, she said. But the long-term and essential solution is to combat climate change, Way said, adding her research highlights some of the less visible impacts of global warming. “The way to tackle this is to tackle climate change at that large scale,” she said.
BUY CANADIAN FOOD Continued from Page 17 despite all the hardships brought on by the pandemic, the increased awareness to the Canadian agriculture industry is a silver lining. “I don’t see any downside to this heightened awareness and heightened interest in the Canadian food system. Whether it lasts or not, the idea that we’ve invited
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