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.
What is “grass-fed” and why does it sell? Staff writers Mike Mulhern and Don Stoneman looked exhaustively at grass-fed beef for this issue and talked to producers across the United States and Canada. They were intrigued by the apparent shift towards eating more meat, and some types of fat associated with grass-fed production. It’s a hit with athletes who want to improve their performance and those trying to reduce carbohydrate intake in an effort to battle diabetes and obesity. Some have taken to grass-fed beef as an alternative to vegetarianism. Clearly the trend towards eating meat is worth watching for all farmers, regardless of what they produce. The story starts on page 12.
Stoneman also brings the story of Renfrew farmers Mel and Lynne Langton, who thought they were planning for retirement when they borrowed money to invest in a solar microFIT project.
It went terribly wrong. Much later, they found that there was no room on the grid to take the anticipated power output, and the Langtons had to make their way through a maze of bureaucracy and boondoggles as they tried to cut their losses. Read about that starting on page 58.
Risk management is one of the biggest challenges farmers in this province have grappled with and it looks like this will continue for a while longer. On page 32, Mary Baxter has prepared an in-depth feature for this issue. It seems federal ag minister Gerry Ritz favours a producer-funded insurance program based on Alberta lines. It’s a model Ontario cattlemen have already rejected. Meanwhile, Ontario’s Ted McMeekin, accepting the need for change, is looking at yet another approach. Baxter’s feature is a must-read if you are a commercial farmer in Ontario.
Are foreign buyers pushing up land prices? It’s no secret that Ontario farmland prices have risen steadily since 1993. If you are wondering what’s going on, look no further than field editor Mike Mulhern’s story beginning on page 46.
Land costs aren’t the only increase you have to contend with. Another is the price you pay for insurance. Weather columnist Henry Hengeveld says you can blame insurance industry concern over the rise in destructive weather events arising from global warming. Henry’s column begins on page 85.
From our very beginning we’ve been very proud to have been associated with another long-time columnist: Barry Wilson, who was recently named to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. No one understands Canadian agriculture better than Barry. He’s one of those ethical, accurate, positive people we need more of in journalism. Congratulations and well-deserved, Barry. You make us all proud! BF
ROBERT IRWIN & DON STONEMAN