‘Fake news’ term not to be used lightly

I have, in recent weeks, come across the term “fake news” when people want to express their concern with an element in a story or column. This term has caught on and is being used as a tool to denigrate other people’s communication. It is often used inappropriately. The term was popularized by U.S. President […] Read more

Gov’t tries controlling the message

Agriculture Canada tried to impose media talking points on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the public release of a study that examined glyphosate levels in Canadian food. Before the study’s release, CFIA provided the Grains Roundtable an overview of the study’s findings on April 10, 2017, according to an Agriculture Canada internal report obtained […] Read more

Barb Glen won an award for her photo of Cal Wellman who lost his barn, corral, tractor and winter feed in the fire that devastated parts of southwestern Alberta last fall. | Barb Glen photo

Your Producer journalists served you well

Most of you might not be aware that in this craft of agricultural journalism, a subset of the larger media industry, we have professional associations. One of the highlights of being a member of these groups is the annual competitions that allow us to see what the current standards in our business look like. As […] Read more


Discerning readers will notice that we’ve been writing a lot about farmers’ use of chemicals lately.
 | File photo

Our coverage of chemicals worthwhile

Discerning readers will notice that we’ve been writing a lot about farmers’ use of chemicals lately. There are four stories in this week’s Western Producer: one about the low thresholds used by Health Canada for neonicotinoids, one detailing how beekeepers in Western Canada are worried that a ban on neonics will result in farmers using […] Read more

‘Fake news’ tag harms useful info

I have, for the first time in my 25 years at The Western Producer, heard from farmer-readers that the professional press, including us, is “fake.” Lately, the term is being thrown around a lot. I was sitting in the sprayer, not so very long ago, going back and forth, as these things do when everything […] Read more


Ag organizations must earn a “social licence” before new technology will be adopted, Kevin Folta said. “It breaks my heart to (see the solutions that are available), especially in the developing world, that don’t get to their target, that don’t serve the people they were meant to serve.”
 | Screencap via Twitter/@GlobalFoodSecur

Trust vs. facts in debate over agriculture

We have often championed the virtue of good communications about agriculture to consumers, but Kevin Folta, a professor in the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, has outlined a process to ensure the targets and the messages are effective. Folta, who spoke at the Global Institute for Food Security conference in Saskatoon last week, urged those […] Read more

Will supply management survive?

In April 2017, shortly after Canada closed the loophole on imports of ultra-filtered milk, Wisconsin dairy farmer Shane Sauer, told the CBC: “We don’t blame you (Canada)” for what was then a glut of product on the market. Sauer explained the explosion in production of ultra-filtered milk, used in milk byproducts such as cheese, came […] Read more

The Producer’s experienced staff covers agriculture with vigour and a journalist’s skeptical eye. 
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Is the Producer on the side of farmers?

It’s a question that arises from time to time when The Western Producer publishes a story or opinion that many farmers disagree with. Of course we are, but not because we act as a spokesperson for the industry. Rather, it’s because we place a lens on the industry to try to get a clearer take […] Read more


One of the top stories of 2017 was the federal government's announcement of tax changes that could affect incorporated farms, making it more difficult for full-time farmers to share income with spouses and children, among other issues. The changes were eventually altered. | File photo

Top stories of 2017

At the end of each year, we like to share with readers the most popular online stories from the previous 12 months. This gives us an indication of what people like to see, and readers can take the measure of what fellow farmers like to read. So here are 2017’s top stories: 10. Grain bag […] Read more

Repeat something enough times and it eventually becomes gospel. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, two misinformation machines, it’s now possible to say “glyphosate probably causes cancer” 50 million times in a month. | File photo

Repetition trumps truth

Insight can arrive at the strangest times. I learned that in 2015 when I was working on a story about Canada’s Inuit people and how they have dozens of words for snow. As part of the piece, I spoke with Graham Nesbitt, who worked at an Inuit cultural centre in Iqaluit. He said there probably […] Read more