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THE BIG C

At first glance, the farmer’s role in helping Canada reach its ambitious goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 appears simple: lower emissions and adopt technology and alternative management practices that boost soil carbon sequestration. Many believe addressing the carbon equation offers economic advantages, too. Farmers who cut back on inputs subject to the carbon tax save money, and those who adopt so-called regenerative practices may participate in the growing carbon economy by collecting and selling carbon credits. While this sounds straightforward, it is anything but.

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INDONESIAN INROADS

The announcement this June of the launch of free trade negotiations between Canada and Indonesia has put a spotlight on the Asian market. For Canadian wheat farmers and exporters, the prospect of greater trade with Indonesia is worth close attention.

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HOT AND DRY ECONOMICS

There are two variables that dictate prices and are out of farmers’ control. First, governments everywhere have long meddled with agriculture and trade policy. The net impact has been to create enormous externalities—barriers that inhibit the laws of supply and demand from dictating prices. Canada, a large net exporter, has often struggled for market access and suffered diminished competitiveness against subsidized farmers. Countries such as China, India and the U.S. as well as the EU continue to restrict market access and some also offer farmer supports that distort the market. There is no indication this will fade.

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GLOBAL BEER INDUSTRY UPDATE

These have been difficult times for the global brewing industry. While estimates vary, as the smoke clears, it appears world beer production was down between eight and 10 per cent in 2020, less than some early dire predictions of up to 14 per cent. Certain regions were particularly hard hit, such as Africa, Asia and Europe with output drops of 10 to 15 per cent. North and South America fared better with production down by two to five per cent. In China, the world’s largest brewer, production is estimated to have fallen by eight to 10 per cent, or 30 to 35 million hectolitres. To put this in perspective, Canada’s annual beer production is around 20 million hectolitres. In Japan, beer sales reportedly dropped nine per cent, while in Vietnam, which has a large population and strong beer culture, output is estimated to have fallen by a substantial 14 per cent.

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RURAL INTERNET SPACE RACE

Canada is known the world over as a satellite system innovator. Though the most-hyped low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite array now in deployment is the American SpaceX Starlink, Canada’s own Telesat Lightspeed will be launched with rural and remote internet users in mind. Lightspeed’s “fibre-like connectivity” will be licensed to broadband internet providers such as Bell, Rogers and Telus that would in turn supply service to farm and rural customers. These will be 4G LTE or 5G networks.

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A CALL FOR PORT GOVERNANCE REFORM

The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) has called for change to the way Canadian ports are governed. The organization represents grain companies that move 95 per cent of Canadian grain exports. Aimed primarily at the Port of Vancouver, the WGEA claims all ports lack accountability and grain terminals do not have adequate means to dispute their actions.

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PREPARE TO LAUNCH

A group of business development organizations has launched a mentorship program in Alberta to assist innovative agriculture technology and agri-food ventures. The Alberta Yield: Ag and Food Tech Advisory Program is intended to guide tech-based entrepreneurs as they establish their businesses, locate funding and expand.

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OPAL A HIGH-TECH GEM

Launched in January, 2021, the Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL) is the only biotechnology facility of its kind in the country. Created with funding provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada, it is led by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). The facility was founded in 2019 as a partnership between the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and USask.

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MAKE IT WORK

The newly launchedIntegrated Agriculture Technology Centre (IATC) at Lethbridge College uses the school’s applied research expertise to advance innovative ag-tech ideas. Funded by a five-year, $1.75 million Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grant received in April of 2020, it works with small- and medium-sized agribusinesses to take their products, processes and services to market. With this technology access centre [TAC] grant, the centre helps such entrepreneurs conduct research, test their products and boost productivity. In its first year of operation, the centre assisted 18 companies to secure more than $500,000 worth of external funding, which includes grants and cash from private investors.

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CEREALS CANADA UPS ITS TECH GAME

BY ELAINE SOPIWNYK • PHOTOS COURTESY OF CEREALS CANADA Canadian wheat has an international reputation for high quality, but this alone isn’t always enough to convince international buyers it’s the right product for their needs. Cereals Canada and the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi) amalgamated in June 2020. Cigi now provides technical support for the […]

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