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In recent years, the global brewing industry has increasingly focused on the environmental sustainability of beer. Many of the world’s largest breweries have set aggressive emissions reductions targets. This has been driven by a combination of jurisdictional regulations, corporate social responsibility goals and consumer demand. Much of the initial focus has been on manufacturing, packaging and transportation, but their initiatives increasingly encompass the entire supply chain including emissions associated with raw materials like barley malt.

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Because more than 90 per cent of Canadian wheat is destined for international markets, this country’s transportation system must step up to ensure reliable, responsible delivery of our grain to markets that rely on it. While concerns about the system are not new, persistent service delays last year highlighted the need for improvement. The final report of the national Supply Chain Task Force renewed discussions about the fairness and effectiveness of Canadian grain transportation and its impact on shippers and the broader market.

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Each year, crop diseases diminish yields in Western Canada and around the globe. To address such perennial threats, Australian company BioScout created its signature product, an agricultural disease detection, spore identification and quantification system. Its purpose is to help farmers manage crop disease by identifying spores prior to the appearance of symptoms on the plants. BioScout has launched active pilot projects around the world to test the unit’s ability to detect diseases in crops such as fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, legumes and cereals.

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Text message is a common form of communication between farmers and grain buyers. In June, a Saskatchewan court ruled an emoji is valid as a signature in the formation of a contract. For failure to fulfil a contract made by text message, a farmer was ordered to pay more than $80,000.

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Catherine Seidle developed a keen interest in the livestock and crop industries while growing up on a mixed farm near Saskatoon, SK. She studied animal science at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and went on to become a livestock and feed extension specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Now on a two-year sabbatical to complete a master’s project on ruminant nutrition, she works with Greg Penner, a USask professor and Centennial Enhancement Chair in ruminant nutritional physiology. She has joined Penner in his development of feed barley strategies that deal in part with variability of kernel size.

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Chief provincial plant health officer since October 2022, Krista deMilliano is only the second person to hold the job since it was created in February 2019 within the Crop Assurance and Rural Programming branch of Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation. Following scares such as the appearance of jimsonweed in 2015, the Province created this dedicated position to co-ordinate preparedness and response for situations that involve weeds, insects and plant diseases.

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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.

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Research has long established the benefits of diversified crop rotations. However, most Prairie farms keep their rotations short and simple, typically growing cereals and oilseeds on an intensive basis. Many farmers agree they need to diversify their rotations, but it’s tricky to find one that consistently delivers better returns than what they already grow.

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All Canadians feel the impact of rising costs at the grocery store and gas pump, but rising input costs and operational expenses are exacting a heavy toll on farmers and even driving younger farmers out of the sector. This is why Bill C-234 is crucial. The Bill is now before the Senate with second reading complete. If passed, it will extend the existing farm fuel exemption to the federal carbon tax to include natural gas and propane.

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