Sessions focus on holistic ag

Ranchers and other producers can participate in a free regenerative agriculture conference next month.

The Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association was planning to hold its Regen Ag conference in Brandon this November, but COVID-19 has made that impossible. The farm group, like many others, has adjusted to the pandemic and is hosting four online presentations on Thursday nights in November. The association has rebranded the conference as Regenerative Ag Month: Foresight 2020.

The first presentation, on Nov. 5, is a showing of Sacred Cow, a documentary by Diana Rodgers, who is a registered dietician from New England and the host of the Sustainable Dish podcast.

Sacred Cow explores the “important role of animals in our food system,” her website says.

Adds the website for the documentary: “Many responsible citizens resolve the ethical, environmental and nutritional conundrum (of meat) by quitting meat entirely … but can a healthy, sustainable and conscientious food system exist without animals?”

Rodgers will answer questions following the movie, and a panel of Manitobans will discuss the issues raised in the film.

The other speakers on Thursday nights in November include Nicole Masters, an expert in healthy soils from New Zealand, and Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture and an advocate for perennial crops.

Regenerative agriculture practices, such as cover crops, diverse crop rotations, reduced tillage and integrating livestock into the farm, have been gaining traction in Western Canada. Many producers are convinced it improves soil health and productivity, making the farm more sustainable.

It’s difficult to calculate how many farmers are following regenerative practices in Western Canada, but the Thursday night presentations in November may encourage a few more to give it a try.

“We are a farmer-led board helping guide a truly grassroots, non-profit organization and leading some really cool things and learning opportunities for farmers,” said Ryan Boyd, conference committee chair and a farmer northeast of Brandon.

“Hopefully, producers and other supporters can get behind us and join us and help put some air in our tires as we roll along here. It should be a great month of November for regenerative agriculture in Manitoba.”

For more information, visit www.mfga.net/regen-ag-conference.

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