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.
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.
The agricultural industry is in the midst of a technology storm. In this column I have written about many amazing ideas and innovations that have changed our industry. Among these have been precision agriculture, artificial intelligence, sensor technology, geomatics, big data, genetic breakthroughs that use biotech tools such as CRISPR, weather prediction and robotics.
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.