Often, we are not prepared for today’s challenges because we hold onto our “never.” “That will never happen,” or “that never works,” or “that should never be taught in the classroom” and even the dreaded, “we tried that and it never worked.” How many times has our “never” put limitations on our farm operations, our vision for the future or even our simple ability to adapt and change?
The net result of combined low carry-in stocks, the severe drought of 2021 and record high prices for feed barley has been a supply crunch that has made it difficult for North American maltsters to source sufficient supplies. The available barley generally has quality challenges that include very high protein content and reduced germination caused by 2021 weather conditions. We now have greater perspective on how the malting and brewing industries are dealing with the challenges associated with the less-than-optimal crop.
Markets prefer certainty, and COVID-19 injected a substantial amount of uncertainty. The supply chain was disrupted and continues to struggle while governments have poured money into the economy to maintain stability. Inflation has been a byproduct of this supply chain disruption and government largesse. Costs have gone up, wages have escalated and shipping costs increased. Shortages have spurred price hikes and food has not been spared.
Unfortunately, the conversation on climate change policy in Canada is being led by groups that represent a small minority of farmers. While not ideal, this is a natural consequence of the fact the federal government is more ideologically aligned with groups supportive of its 2050 net-zero CO2 emissions agenda. Secondly, and more importantly, these groups, such as Farmers for Climate Solutions, have provided the political cover necessary by providing detailed, data-driven solutions for the government to embrace. The problem being, this data is not representative of the majority of Canadian grain farmers.
Thirty years ago, streambanks and shores were not valued to the extent they are now. This changed in the early 1990s, when a handful of agricultural landowners recognized the need to better manage these riparian landscapes. In kitchen table sessions, they formulated a vision with support from the Alberta Cattle Commission, now known as Alberta Beef Producers. The ABP rightly predicted the rising importance of riparian stewardship and determined the agriculture sector should lead its management.
First-time visitors to the Brooks Aqueduct National and Provincial Historic Site in Newell County are often surprised at the size of this retired piece of irrigation infrastructure. The largest structure of its kind when it was built, it looks like a slender-legged version of the massive aqueducts built in Roman times. Also similar to its ancient cousins, though no longer in use, it remains an impressive monument to the ingenuity of its builders.