Welcome to Caring for the Land - a blog about the Canadian farmers who spend every day growing crops and caring for animals. They're world leaders in the production of safe, high quality and low-cost food. And they do so in a way that protects the environment.
In fact, Canadian farmers lead the world in environmental initiatives. We're proud of how they care for the land - and want to tell you why. Our future depends on our ability to take good care of our land and water. It's a job that everyone who lives and works in agriculture takes seriously.
Through this blog, we'll explore many of the things being done on Canadian farms to help the environment.
By Treena Hein (Bowmanville) – Brothers Tom, Stephen and Glenn Barrie work well as a team, and like any successful team, they share a similar outlook. They’ve always worked to have their family farm (called Terwidlen Farms, located between Bowmanville, Orono and Newcastle) stay sustainable – both in terms of looking after the land and in terms of long-term profitability. (more...)
By Melanie Epp Vince Tkaczuk and Sarah Biancucci are the proud new owners of a small, seven-acre farm south of Mount Forest. They bought the property in June of 2013, and in the process moved one step closer to realizing their dream of becoming farmers. The two have big plans for the property they’re now calling Bell’s Edge Farm. As their slogan, ‘Innovation and Cultivation,’ says, the goal is to farm intensively, but as sustainably as possible. Starting a new farm from nothing comes with its challenges but as the couple’s story shows, determination and drive prevails. (more...)
By Micah Shearer-Kudel, Environmental Coordinator, Farm & Food Care November 13, 2014 – A day that could mark a return to the ‘dark ages’ for Europe. Sweeping the headlines of the international scientific community is the announcement of the European Commission’s decision to not renew the role of Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA). This news comes on the heels of increased pressure from Greenpeace (backed by a long list of similar-minded NGOs) to have the role terminated and to have a “"...a variety of independent, multi-disciplinary sources, with a focus on the public interest" advise European politicians about scientific evidence, or lack thereof. The safety of the public is why bodies such as the European Commission exist. The decision to sack Anne Glover, now former CSA, is why the international scientific community, particularly in Europe, is up-in-arms. (more...)
By Les Nichols –Farm & Food Care Environmental Council Chairman Ontario farmers are very concerned about bee health. We rely on bees as important pollinators of our crops – bees are of vital importance to all segments of agriculture and food. Bee health, and specifically the possible impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides as a factor in pollinator health, is a very complex issue that is being reviewed and examined by experts around the world. Farm & Food Care has long supported the creation of the Bee Health Working Group in Ontario, and the work of the Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA) as it examines and researches the concerns regarding bee health. These are just two of many initiatives related to bees that are trying to determine what is actually happening and why. Farm & Food Care applauds the work that many farmers and agri-food industry stakeholders have already invested into research and adopting new handling practices such as reducing the possible exposure of bees to dust from neonicotinoid treated seed. It is imperative to the viability of Ontario’s farmers who grow crops and associated businesses that any possible decisions to restrict the use of neonicotinoids be based on sound science and credible research. The goal of reducing honey bee deaths is one all farmers can support. Ontario farmers are the original environmental stewards of the land. We live and work on our farms and take ecosystem and bee health very seriously. Farm & Food Care encourages anyone that shares farmer concerns about pollinator health to support sound science and research. Understanding to what extent environmental issues impact bee health is important, not only for bees but for the benefit of all ecosystems surrounding agricultural lands. Farm & Food Care encourages anyone that shares farmer concerns about pollinator health to allow the researchers and experts some more time to continue to investigate this important issue. Let’s allow them to establish benchmarks and recommendations for changes and actions based on science and data collected here at home in Canada.
By: Lyndsey Smith, reprinted with permission Yesterday, the Ontario premier’s office and the ministry of the environment and climate change revealed its plan to restrict the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. The goal, referred to as “aspirational,” is to reduce the number of Ontario corn and soybean acres planted with the seed treatment by 80% by the year 2017. The details of the new rules, regulations and certification for using the pesticide will be determined by July of 2015, the province says, following a two month consultation process running through December, 2014, and January, 2015. You’ll note I didn’t say that the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs is proposing this plan, even though, yes, technically it is. Want to know why? Because from what I saw yesterday, OMAFRA isn’t the lead on this even a little — premier Kathleen Wynne and her environment minister, Glen Murray, are. And if I were Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, or an Ontario farmer, I’d be feeling more than a little bullied at this point. That this isn’t being driven by OMAFRA is a significant point, and speaks to the challenge ahead for farmers. It’s one thing to have to deal with changes and increased regulation stemming from your own ministry — a ministry that should understand and respect the complexity of your industry. It’s another beast to be expected to morph and fall in line with the demands of a ministry that is only handing down demands and not offering up any help on the solutions side. Mix in a bit of blatant ignorance of (or disregard for, I can’t tell which it is) farming and agriculture, and we’ve got ourselves a hot mess. Farmers are, understandably, upset over the coming regulations. Wynne and Murray are busy patting themselves on the back and reminding voters how great they are, while simultaneously disregarding what it means on the ground for farmers and the environment. How so? Read on. Access the full article here.