Canada’s Food Price Report 2022 annually delivers a much-anticipated snapshot of the nation’s consumer grocery bill for the year past with predictions for the coming year. In early January, GrainsWest conducted a wide-ranging discussion on the implications of its latest findings with Sylvain Charlebois, lead author and Dalhousie professor in the faculties of management and agriculture.
Canadian agriculture is dependent on trade. The productive capacity of the Prairies is many times that of the domestic market within Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta and market access is a huge issue. Federal and provincial governments as well as various grower and industry groups continuously push for Canada’s fair treatment in global trade. The hardship necessary to secure transparent and reliable offshore market access has been a continual frustration even in the post-World Trade Organization era. A common lament is there is not enough domestic industry and the various levels of government should do more to promote investment to create opportunities. Herein lies the irony that free trade and market access do not exist within Canada.
The drought of 2021 affected crops across the Canadian Prairies and the Great Plains of the U.S. This significantly impacted crop yield and quality in the major barley producing provinces in Western Canada and the states of North Dakota, Idaho and Montana. To add insult to injury, many farms finally received precipitation in the middle of harvest. The hot, dry growing season produced very high protein content while the late moisture triggered significant pre-harvest sprouting.
Amanda Hardman believes the amount of plastic packaging used in the produce aisles of her local grocery store is unsustainable. As a solution, the second-year sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta developed a prototype clamshell package made of sugarcane fibre and intended to transport lettuce. Initially a 4-H Canada Science Fair project, it earned her a spot at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit 2021. “People are looking for packaging options other than plastics as it has either been banned in some places or discouraged in others,” said Hardman.
In September, as the economic fallout from the 2021 drought continued to hit home on Alberta farms, Pine Lake cattle farmer Kelly Smith-Fraser stepped into the role of Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) board chair. It has not been an easy time to lead the group: insurance needs are high across the ag sector and AFSC has been tasked with administering the $340 million joint federal–provincial AgriRecovery program through the Canada-Alberta Livestock Feed Assistance Initiative.
Grain companies and certain industry groups would like to see Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) outward inspection practice halted. They insist it is a duplicate service, as these companies typically hire independent firms to complete grain inspections. Is it a matter of “double trouble” or “twice is nice?” It depends whom you ask.
Wholesale meat producers with their own Calgary butcher shop, Brant Lake Wagyu (BLW) owners Michelle Ball and son Brandon said demand is on the increase for their ultra-high quality, Kobe-style beef products. What makes the meat so tasty, said Michelle, is a combination of excellent Wagyu-Angus genetics, slow production and a strict barley regimen.