Remember cropping systems when funding ag research

Intercropping is a fascinating topic when proponents such as Colin Rosengren speak about it. Growing multiple crops on the same field at the same time goes against more than 100 years of agricultural orthodoxy. The goal for mainstream farming, and the assumed route to optimum profit, is to have a uniform crop of one species […] Read more


National water testing needed to improve government policy

Government policy on environmental issues must be tied to hard science, and it must consider what is necessary and practical. To that end, without a long-term, national water-quality testing program, we risk placing an unnecessary burden on farmers in Western Canada with blanket measures that are not warranted. Last week, The Western Producer’s front-page story […] Read more


Action must be taken to reach agricultural potential

Recommendations from the advisory council on economic growth about the potential for Canada’s agriculture and food processing sectors — dubbed “agrifood” — are welcome. Such a spotlight on agrifood’s full potential is helpful. Still, anyone reading the report can be forgiven for wondering why much of this hasn’t already been done, given the competitiveness of […] Read more



Promotion must accompany improved wheat varieties

Wheat was once the backbone of western Canadian agriculture, but now many farmers consider it to be at best a rotation crop, cultivated to give a disease-fighting break from cash-generating canola. The Canadian wheat industry is challenged on all sides with low-cost competitors winning market share, diet crazes turning consumers away and inadequate research funding […] Read more


Complex path ahead for animal pain control

Pain mitigation for livestock undergoing painful procedures: Necessary? Practical? Economical? Productive? Demanded by consumers? A ploy for product differentiation? The answer to the first question is yes, and the various livestock codes of practice show the industry knows it. The codes for beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs and other livestock contain various requirements designed to […] Read more



Western welcome mat out, but wipe your feet first

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau: It has been refreshing to watch your willingness to address Canadians face-to-face in town hall meetings, but it is perhaps best if you keep a few things in mind when you come to the Prairies. You were scheduled to be in Calgary Jan. 24. Hope all went well. You likely had […] Read more


Exciting opportunities seen in agriculture’s crystal ball

For our final edition of 2016, The Western Producer published 28 stories on innovation in agriculture that demonstrated just how science and technology will propel the extraordinary promise of agriculture. How far can we go? There is a sense that we can go as far as is needed to feed an estimated population of 9.7 […] Read more


Livestock sector can’t ignore push for protein alternatives

Joy among Canadian livestock producers because of forecasts of rising global meat demand in coming decades as incomes rise could be limited as new competitors enter the field. We are not talking about competition from South America or Russia but rather from the high tech food development kitchens of American corporations rooted in the disruptive […] Read more



Time to look ahead after year that disappointed some

If a year in farming didn’t have any surprises, it would be a strange year. From that perspective, 2016 certainly wasn’t strange. But it sure was a tough one. While the low Canadian dollar was a dependable support for exporters, a roller-coaster of issues left many farmers stressed. Some of it was uncertainty, for instance, […] Read more


Provide input on changes to animal transport rules

Some 700 million animals, most of them poultry but also cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and goats, are transported in Canada every year, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Small wonder, then, that such movement is visible to everyone who travels the roads. The highways and byways are among the few places where an increasingly […] Read more