GRAINSWEST MARKS 10 YEARS CONNECTING FARMERS, FOOD AND IDEAS
BY IAN DOIG
Among the topics tackled in the first issue of GrainsWest, was UPOV 91. Hinting at the eventual outcome of the initiative, the magazine posed the question “will the tale of UPOV 91 end happily ever after?” An international project, the UPOV framework is intended to ensure plant breeders can protect and profit from their work, and so spur investment in crop variety development critical to Canadian farmers. The story was published in January 2014 as legislation to bring the nation’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act in line with UPOV moved through Parliament. The Legislative amendment was passed in 2015. GrainsWest flagged this as a turning point for Canadian agriculture, for better or worse.
Just under a decade later, ahead of our tenth anniversary a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) report released this past October strongly declared the move to update the Act has had a positive effect on production, yield, farm cash receipts and export value. The report’s calculations clearly put the results in the “better” category.
This past fall, in a reassuring echo of the CFIA’s good news, the Cereals Canada 2023 New Wheat Crop Report noted that despite generally poor conditions during the growing season and below-average production, the 30-million tonne Canadian wheat crop was of high quality across all classes.
This positive news cannot be chalked up to pure luck. Such a widespread outcome must be the product of strong, regionally suited crop varieties in combination with well-tuned field practices. The decade-long view of Canadian agriculture is that it has been able to absorb much of what nature has thrown at it. Farmers, agronomists, researchers and plant breeders have all contributed to the industry’s success. Agriculture has manufactured its own luck in the form of increased resilience.
In agriculture, success demands attention to the long game. With time and effort, yield and profit trend upward and new opportunities are created. It has been our job to document the stories that mark this often-incremental progress. As we celebrate 10 years of connecting farmers, food and ideas, expect more news, updates and deep dives on topics from agricultural research, agronomics, equipment and technology to farm finance and grain marketing. As we embark on our second decade working with Alberta farmers and agriculture professionals from across Canada, we certainly do consider ourselves lucky.
A look back at one decade of notable GrainsWest front pages
The cover: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a seed storage project of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
The story: The preservation and of crop genetics is a global effort. Gene banks from Mexico City to Saskatoon, SK, to the Norwegian Arctic maintain a global plant breeding legacy that is thousands of years in the making.
The cover: Eduardo Gomez and family left Mexico for farm life in southern Alberta, though the process was tricky.
The story: A reminder farm labour shortage is a perennial issue, changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program almost a decade ago raised alarm bells in the ag sector. In conversation with two such workers, GrainsWest examined the fallout of these changes.
The cover: The same glacial retreat that carved Alberta’s Badlands launched the formation of the province’s rich farmland.
The story: The history of Alberta’s productive agricultural soils is a comparatively short 10,000 years in length. Following the last ice age, geography and geology conspired to create the rich dirt that is the foundation of today’s thriving farm economy.
The cover: With multiple wet harvests, New Norway farmer Scott Keller found his grain dryer an increasingly necessary tool.
The story: Though dry conditions have been the norm in recent years, not so long ago, widespread high moisture conditions spurred many farmers to consider grain dryer purchases, retrofits and upgrades.
The cover: Advances in tractor cab technology promised to push agricultural performance to
infinity and beyond.
The story: Tractor cabs have only become increasingly streamlined and tech-enabled since we pronounced the latest models sci-fi worthy three and a bit years ago. Ever more spaceship-like, manufacturers had begun to call them control centres.
The cover: Battleford, SK farmer Perry Rumpf (centre) walked us through his major grain handling upgrade.
The story: Whether done piecemeal or all at once, on-farm grain handling systems need to be upgraded as operations grow. Rumpf discussed his bin yard expansion experiences and offered tips.