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In 2024, another slew of Canadian farmers will transition out of farming while the next generation takes over either in part or whole. It’s a fact of farm life: eventually the farm changes hands. For countless reasons, farm transitions take many meandering paths. Depending on business and family dynamics, the trip can be smooth going or a rough ride.

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Ten years ago, Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) Act was updated to align with UPOV ’91, the globally acknowledged framework that protects the innovation of plant breeders and helps them profit from new variety development. The legislation is intended to protect breeders’ rights, increase investment in plant breeding and boost access to foreign genetics. Farm groups strongly resisted its adoption as they feared the cost burden for farmers.

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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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Established by the Government of Alberta in 1973 to help farmers protect their rights in dealings with the booming oil and gas industry of the day, the Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) has been greatly expanded from its original mandate. The office later merged with the Property Rights Advocate office and is now known as the Farmers’ and Property Rights Advocate Offices (FPRAO). Its modest team supports farmers and ranchers as they navigate a range of regulatory, environmental and legal issues.

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Saskatchewan-based cartographer Alex McPhee makes western Canadian maps with a high level of detail and accuracy. Despite his growing reputation, potential customers occasionally try to spot omissions.

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On Rob Baerg’s farm near Rosemary, a rectangular array of used aluminum irrigation pipes is nestled within an L-shaped configuration of six hopper bottom grain bins. GrainsWest visited the farm on a day that was not particularly sunny, but the pipes were surprisingly hot. Laid east to west, this is the energy intake of Baerg’s solar grain dryer.

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Cellular agriculture is poised to become a growth industry. The term refers to the engineering of plant or animal cells to create a food product or ingredient. The technology has been used for decades to produce food enzymes and proteins. For example, since the 1990s, 80 per cent of the rennet used in cheese making worldwide is produced by protein fermentation rather than traditionally sourced from calves’ stomachs. Cellular agriculture is also known for its potential to commercially produce animal proteins that closely mimic the meat of farmed animals.

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Art Froehlich’s upbringing in the 1950s and ’60s was modest, but his contribution to agriculture has been substantial and far-reaching. His childhood on the family’s mixed farm was full of fun, family and 4-H competitions. These were years spent learning valuable agricultural knowledge that would serve him well later in life. His subsequent study of soil science at the University of Saskatchewan initiated a lifelong agricultural adventure as an entrepreneur and investor. Known for his role as president of AdFarm during its launch in 2000 and the first thought leader in smart agriculture at Olds College, Froehlich now enjoys his role as a mentor and supporter of agricultural development programs across the world. Awarded both the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in 2022 for his contributions to the industry, the farm kid-turned-philanthropist is a committed champion of agriculture.

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Founded by Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Alberta Pulse Growers and the Alberta Wheat Commission, Team Alberta Crops was formed to elevate the influence of Alberta’s farmers in key agricultural policy areas. Focused on four priorities—improved market access, reduced regulatory hurdles, increased global competitiveness and continued sustainability—Team Alberta Crops advocates on behalf of Alberta farmers.

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