Animal Activists Cross the Line with Novartis

September 7, 2009

One of the great things about living in North America is that you can share your opinion freely. Whether you read this blog or others that share the counter point, you can provide opinion without fear of being burned at the stake or put on a firing line. This morning I was on Twitter and stumbled upon a story taking about the recent acts of an animal activist faction. This group of animal activist radicals has torched the home and vandalized the family grave sites of Novartis CEO, Dan Vasella. Now the animal activists have the ashes of one of Vasella’s deceased family members and will only return the urn to him if Novartis stops engaging in business activities with Huntingdon Life Sciences.
I think that this is not expressing your right to speak out against what you feel is wrong. This is criminal type behavior which should come with punishment. I am always curious as to what this is supposed to accomplish. Do groups like this feel that this will engage fringe supporters? there is no business practice that Novartis could be engaging in that would ever justify the torching of the CEO’s family home. This is not speaking up for animal rights this is breaking the law. Somehow radical people seem to think that animal rights are more important the rights and safety of humans. Absolutely bizarre the way that animal rights activists justify behavior.

Canola School: When Should I Swath My Canola

September 5, 2009

This year, perhaps more than ever, swath timing is critical for all varieties of canola. With the cold soil temperatures and dry spring and summer, there are many canola fields in Alberta and across Western Canada that are in a variety of stages and maturing at different times. Multistaged canola can make it difficult to determine an appropriate swathing time, but Doug Moisey from the Canola Council had some tips at a recent Canola Harvest Management meeting, just south of Vermilion.

Doug says the best approach to timing your swathing is to be very thorough in checking the field. This may mean checking every 2 or 3 days (when temperatures are hot as they have been, canola can change 10-20% in a day) and looking at multiple areas in the field. When you drive up, stand on the quad or in the box of the truck and try to get a feel for the field. Hills and knolls will mature more quickly than coulees and lower lying areas. From here, determine how many “maturity zones” you have. These are areas that are at different maturities – the hills may be at 20% seed colour change whereas the valleys may be just finished flowering. Try to pick plants from each area to look at.

When picking a plant, select randomly and look at a few plants in each area. Canola matures from the bottom up, so plant colour and what you can see from the road are not good indicators. Remember when it is hot and sunny that canola can “tan” or “sunburn” resulting in that purple-red-brown you may see on the tops of pods. This does not necessarily indicate seed colour change. I have been called to a lot of fields this year that growers thought were ready, as they are seeing this colour change from the road when, in fact, all of the seed is still green. Doug also indicated growers across western Canada are seeing this same colour change due to excessive heat and sun.

When determining seed colour change, find the main stem of the plant, and check the pods from the bottom up. Canola matures from the bottom up and the inside out, so while your main stem may be showing 50% colour change, your side branches may just be starting. If the skin rolls off the seeds between your fingers ( like an onion) then the seed is not mature. When I am scouting, I count any seed with a black or brown spot on it as changed.

With the harvest being so late this year, I do worry that growers will be swathing early in hopes of beating a frost. With these high temperatures of late, we can afford to wait the extra days to optimal seed colour change rather than risk the green seeds of swathing early. Doug states that maximium yeild can be acheived by swathing at 50-60% seed colour change. Waiting for this timing will pay off in the end, as shelling will be minimal when compared to a quality loss from a high green seed count.

Overall, take the time to look at your canola, segregate the maturity zones and decide where your highest yeilds are going to come from in the field. Focus on these areas and determine swath timing based on the best parts of the field. Also, dont be scared to swath in zones. If part of the field is ready 3 days before another, then come back to the greener areas later.

The Canola Council website offers great timing guides and articles on the subject of swathing if you are interested in further information.

Good luck and happy harvest.

TIME Article Proves People Are Not Interested in Facts

September 2, 2009

I had a subscription to TIME magazine and I will be cancelling it based on the unfounded rhetoric the magazine has recently published. Writer Brian Walsh penned the cover story entitled, “The Real Cost of Cheap Food.” To say that this one sided article has raised the ire of the agricultural industry would be an understatement. The story is the same old tired rhetoric that corporate America is the one to blame for the number of farms decreasing and that agriculture is responsible for obesity. And guess what, the article also mentions that organic is here to save the day.

In the following interview with the Mr. Walsh on Agritalk, his backstroke is quite evident and bounces all over the place trying to cover his lack of journalistic integrity. In the interview Mr. Walsh admits that he did not get the other side of the story and that TIME chose to run this one-sided story. In the interview (linked above), Mr. Walsh claims in the story that organic production could feed the world if given a chance. Mr. Walsh also claims in the interview organic production is better for you, tastes better and is easier on the land in his opinion”. when the Agritalk host asks him about animal antibiotics, he states his opinion and those of others but dismisses, the opinions of veterinarians in the business. TIME is supposed to be a news magazine not PEOPLE. The story lacks fact and does cause one to draw the conclusion that fact has taken a second seat to sensationalism in all media.
I encourage you to write TIME magazine and express your displeasure with this absolute attack on our industry. It is important that you speak up and not let people outside of agriculture speak for you and about you. Let your voice be heard!!!!

Please read Raoul Baxter’s post on MeatingPlace, discussing the inaccuracies of the TIME piece just in case you think I’m the crazy one.

Beef Market Update – Anne Dunford – 09-01-2009

September 2, 2009

Anne Dunford discusses the sentiment of the Us and Canadian feedyard owner and the impact that this is having on the feeder cattle market. Anne also breaks down the affect that COOL is having on exports of feeder cattle into the US from Canada and Mexico.

See Past Beef Market Updates

Hello world!

August 31, 2009

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Its Harvest Time

August 30, 2009

Its fall time and that means only one thing…… It’s harvest time. Harvest time is all about long hours, teamwork and lots of windshield time. To make sure that everyone is prepared I have embedded on of my harvest videos from YouTube which was produced by FarmallDiesel a farmer from Wisconsin. This video incorporates great song selection and a great plethora of video and still photos from the 2008 harvest. Amazingly this video has over 45,000 views. Enjoy the video and have a great harvest.

Affects of Modern Farming on the Soil

August 28, 2009

Dr. Ross McKenzie, from the Lethbridge Research Station provides comments on the affect that modern farming has had on the soil. Some groups maintain that modern farming is destroying our top soil levels and creating adverse compaction, and decreasing organic matter. Others would say that things like organic matte are rising based on modern farming methods. I asked Ross to comment on this topic so that we could get a a professional scientific opinion to base some discussion on.

Harvesting the Benefits of Facebook and Twitter

August 25, 2009

The following article was originally written by Michele Payn Knoper on her blog Cause Matters. Michele is an accomplished professional speaker and writer.

Harvest is rapidly approaching, a season filled with measurements of a farmer’s success. Agriculture needs to look at yields in areas beyond the combines and choppers. One of those needing yield improvement is consumer understanding of agriculture. I’d encourage you to look at the millions of opportunities in social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Ning, et al) as a critical tool in improving perception measurements about the agrifood business. Why?

Networking: People with multiple decades working in agriculture have told me that they’ve never found a better networking tool than social media. For example, Twitter’s #AgChat on Tues., 8-10 p.m. Eastern, has brought together hundreds of people in the business of raising food, feed, fuel and fiber. In addition to discussing timely issues and educating others about agriculture, participants in in #AgChat regularly dialogue about what they’re doing in the field, the latest equipment, ways to improve practices and experiences in animal care.

Listen louder: Identify trends and thought patterns shaping opinion about what you do on a daily basis. Social media offers an early glimpse of emerging trends – and media outlets have been using tools such as Twitter to break news, as well as source it. Social media gives you the opportunity to really listen to people’s thoughts, needs and worries – and respond to them.

Share sound bytes about agriculture: Create greater understanding of what’s happening on the farm, in the field, the role of agribusiness and the challenges faced by those who produce food. In a society two or three generations removed from the farm – this is a critical business tool to ensure your long-term success. Don’t expect people to understand ag if you don’t tell them about it. Many of my speaker friends comment on the food facts I post on my Facebook and LinkedIn, noting their surprise. You’ll likely be surprised with the feedback you get from your social networking – people enjoy hearing about farm, food and your family.

Build collaborations: Many groups are interested in exposing misinformation campaigns and improving people’s critical thinking skills. For example, biomedical researchers and pet ownership groups have similar interests as agriculturists do in exposing animal rights activists. Broaden your circle and you may be surprised at what you learn – and who you meet.

Put a face on the plate: Connect with consumers and influencers – by the millions. Take two minutes a day to share what you’re working on your farm, in your agribusiness, or challenges in the business. If you’re not telling people, how do you expect people to know? When I began tweeting a weekly food fact (there’s now #agfact Tues. and #foodfact Thurs.) back in January, I saw my followers begin to diversify. People are hungry for information about food and it’s a tremendously polarizing issue. The day the L.A. Times Food Section began following me was the day I figured out Twitter is a very useful business tool.

Engage in debate with people from different backgrounds: This is particularly true when misinformation is running rampant. Blogs and Twitter have taught me how single-minded some people can be in debates about sustainability, local food, biotechnology, organics, animal rights, urban gardeners, et al. Time spent in civil discourse is constructive if it builds understanding of both parties’ opinions. Frankly, it also provides reason to step back and assess if agriculture is too single-minded.

The yield potential is significant. An estimated 1.9 million tweets are sent daily. There are more than 225 million people on Facebook and it reached 150 million users nearly three times faster than cell phones. Do the math about how many opportunities you have to connect agriculture if 98.5% of those people aren’t actively engaged in farming. Call social media a fad if you wish, but know that agriculture is missing an opportunity to be proactive if you don’t take the time to harvest the benefits of at least one of the tools. What’s holding you back?

Why Winter Wheat – Ross McKenzie, PhD – Lethbridge Research Station

August 22, 2009

Ross McKenzie, PhD of the Lethbridge Research Station talks about the agronomic considerations for winter wheat. Ross explains seeding dates, plant populations, nutrient requirements, specific variety considerations and seeding depth.

Winter wheat is a great crop with many benefits. Planting winter wheat is a great way to lower the amount of workload in the spring and creates a much more spread out harvest.

Beef Market Update – Anne Dunford – 08-19-2009

August 20, 2009

Summer is coming to an end and feedyards are starting to place grass cattle.  Anne Dunford of the Gateway Livestock Exchange talks about the fat cattle and feeder markets are being affected and how the fall may play out for the cattle industry in both Canada and the US.   Anne also predicts what will transpire when Stats Canada releases the July 1st inventory numbers.  

View past Beef Market Updates