A decade and a half ago, there was a rush to build big barns as the province’s producers took advantage of a boom in the pork industry to meet a burgeoning demand. We couldn’t help but notice a comparison with the current push to use rural lands to dispose of material excavated from the province’s construction sites.
Behind the Lines
Most journalists believe it is important to stay out of the story. Others believe they can be, and become, an integral part of the story they are covering. That seems to be how British environmental activist/journalist Mark Lynas views his role.
It was nearly 10 years ago that Better Farming first brought readers’ attention to concerns about farm animals and the Ontario SPCA. (“The case of the limping boar,” November 2003.) Previous to that, farmers might have thought the OSPCA had more to do with care or neglect of pet cats and dogs than with farm livestock.
Has food, in particular local food, ever had a higher profile in public forums than it has lately?
Locally produced food is experiencing a renaissance. Many consumers have caught on to the fact that local food is good food and they would like to get access to it.
Smaller producers who produce identified products instead of commodities see a lot of potential in this. But how do they reach markets beyond one-on-one consumer sales? Can consumers be expected to drive past supermarkets to go to farms in the country beyond their urban area?
High fertilizer costs are driving innovation in the farm community. The high cost of landfilling garbage is driving innovation in the urban community. The result may be a new soil amendment that has a place on your farm.
No-till has become a standard practice on many Ontario farms, saving producers both time and money as they make fewer passes in the spring and fall. So it came as a surprise recently when no-till and its conservation tillage derivatives came under fire from the scientific community for encouraging phosphorus to enter streams from farm drains.
Were those remarkably mild days in March a harbinger of the droughty summer to come? Forget that question. Were they a harbinger of springs we will see in the future?
According to this issue’s cover story, Environment Canada thinks so. In less than 40 years, federal environmentalists assert, southwestern Ontario’s climate will match that of Kentucky today. If snowy days chill you to the bone, this might sound like a good idea. But there may be a price to pay.
While farmers and even automotive companies are finding any number of uses for crops such as switchgrass and miscanthus, the market for biofuel still appears to be precarious. Writer Mary Baxter looks at this crop and markets for it from several angles in this month’s cover story that begins on page 12.
One angle is that miscanthus could be grown and made into pellets in a plant in Springford for burning in generation facilities in Italy (See “‘Fuel pellet maker to supply Italian market” on Better Farming’s website, July 4.)
Beef from “Down Under” – meaning Australia and New Zealand – used to have a lower quality image. Not any more, as we found while researching a story on grass-fed beef for this month’s issue.
We came across a gourmet meat store in New Jersey that sells Australian “grass-fed beef striploin . . . 8-10 pounds” for $133.99. Obviously, “local” isn’t the reason this product sells.
North Glengarry municipal council recently defeated a resolution put forward by the mayor of Fort Erie, home of one of the racetracks targeted by the Dalton McGuinty government’s controversial removal of slot machines from racetracks. Not unreasonably, Fort Erie was seeking support from other municipalities for the horse racing industry.
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