let's talk farm animals

When environmentalism and science face off

By Lisa McLean, Agricultural writer

Destruction of GMO crops (also called genetically modified organisms) is a common form of protest, particularly in the EU where public acceptance of biotechnology is low. Activists dress in their best white garb and face masks to make the most of a photo opportunity while they wade into fields and haul out healthy plants by their roots.

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Posted by FFC on May 14th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Crops,Environment,Innovation and technology,Research
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Meet Mr. May in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

 
by Patricia Grotenhuis

The world of horse racing beckoned for a 10-year period for Darryl Drain, but eventually he found his way back to the family egg farm. Drain’s role as an Ontario egg farmer and an advocate for the egg industry has earned him a spot as the face of May in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. His page was sponsored by Egg Farmers of Ontario.

He had always planned on eventually taking over the farm, but the road between when he left his father’s farm and on-farm store and when he returned to it was a long one.  Drain studied at the University of Guelph for a diploma in agricultural business, and then took a step towards training racehorses.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 9th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Consumers,Education and public awareness,eggs,Faces of Farming,Farm life
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Google and Apple show an interest in pig manure

 

In my last blog I wrote about using farm and processing waste as an alternative, renewable fuel. Well this week bio-fuels got a big boost from an unlikely source.

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Posted by FFC on April 16th, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Environment,Manure,Pigs
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Waiting to make poop power pay

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Alternative energy is becoming increasingly important in our oil-limited world.  Record high gas prices at the pump and creeping hydro bills are just signs of things to  come.  Farm equipment manufacturers are saying that farmers need more incentives to generate alternative energy from sources such as livestock manure.

Although the technology to turn poop (and other food and farm wastes) into clean energy has been commercially available in Canada for more than a decade, it hasn’t taken off the way I think it should. I got involved in the development of bio-diesel about ten years ago. The livestock and poultry farmers I worked for at the time saw the technology as a way to deal with shrinking markets and opportunities to recycle animal by-products. The technology has improved since then but the costs have not.

For example, one company, Bio-Terre Systems, has developed a low temperature anaerobic digestion system for processing farm manure and other organic wastes. The new system operates at lower temperatures than conventional systems cutting operating costs. Other companies have come-up with a new generation of extractors to improve the quality of bio-fuels that can be used in our vehicles. Farmers can use the energy to power their farms or sell it back to the electricity grid.

So what is holding it back? Right now although the technology is available the business incentives are not. Farm engineer Dennis Hodgkinson says environmental regulators in Canada have been slow to embrace anaerobic digestion and he believes that is slowing the advancement of the technology.

Mr Hodgkinson says the Europeans have built hundreds of conventional anaerobic digesters on farms but that development has been supported by preferential treatment. In Canada these business incentives, tax incentives and preferential green energy rates, don’t exist in our every day business, he says.

Right now, he explains, it is individual farmers that are choosing to make personal investments to adopt the technology because they believe in its potential.  Eventually he predicts  the economic circumstances will develop to make it attractive to both farmers and energy buyers.

This is a good technology, it can make real environmental improvements and it already has in a limited way. Now it is a matter of waiting for the economic circumstances to be right. That means waiting for even higher prices at the pump.

Until the next BLOG.

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Posted by FFC on April 9th, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Innovation and technology,Sustainability
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I Occupy Our Food Supply everyday

Guest blog: I farm with my father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. Scott Farms grow corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat. I graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Soil and Crop Management in 2003.

Today is the day.  The Occupy movement is going to occupy the food supply.  According to the occupiers and Farm Aid president Willie Nelson large corporations have too much control over our food.  I won’t deny that there has been a lot of consolidation in the food and seed markets over the years, but that seems pretty common and big does not equal bad as some occupiers would have you think.

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Posted by FFC on March 6th, 2012 :: Filed under Crops,Environment,Food,Innovation and technology,Regulations
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Things you should know before criticizing food production

By Leslie Ballentine, farming and food commentator

This past year, a University of Manitoba student was inspired by a campus talk she heard by the Ontario Farm Animal Council.  So inspired, in fact, that she wrote a thought-provoking article in the student newspaper. Titled: Things you should know before criticizing food production, the article is directed to the students on campus. But I think it should be directed to everyone. And it is food for thought to start the year.

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Posted by FFC on January 3rd, 2012 :: Filed under Environment,Family vs factory farming,Food safety,Housing,Innovation and technology,Misconceptions
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Eco-friendly plastic: a new use for chicken feathers

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Turning chicken feathers into ‘green’ plastic is not a new idea. Government and university scientists in the U.S. first began serious research into the possibility years ago. The goal for researchers and plastic manufacturers has been to develop a substitute for petroleum in some plastic products. This year, some technical hurdles have been over-come and this bio-degradable plastic is now being produced commercially.

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Posted by FFC on November 7th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Chickens,Environment,Innovation and technology,PETA,Research
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Sustainability is all the buzz in the retail world

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator
 
According to the numerous trends lists that I have been reading, the buzz around food sustainability will continue to increase, driven by the food industry and retailers like Wal-Mart. This includes social, economic and environmental sustainability – lower greenhouse gas emissions, smaller carbon footprints, fair(er) trade and pricing policies, and responsible production practices. Food manufacturers and retailers now have whole departments devoted to corporate social responsibility. As buyers of farm products they have influence with their suppliers over how products may and may not be produced.

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Posted by FFC on October 19th, 2011 :: Filed under Retailers,Sustainability,Sustainability of the family farm
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The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the consumer’s conscience without affecting climate change

The following is reprinted with permission from the Animal Agriculture Alliance in the United States (www.animalalliance.org). For its full collection of Meatless Monday resources, visit  http://animalagalliance.org/current/home.cfm?Section=Meatless_Monday&Category=Current_Issues.

The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the Consumer’s Conscience Without Affecting Climate Change
Judith L. Capper, PhD, Washington State University

In July, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report claiming that everybody should eat less meatand dairy products in order to mitigate climate change. It was an interesting report, not least because it recommended that if consumers were going to eat meat, they should choose “meat, eggs and dairy products that are certified organic, humane and/or grass-fed as they are generally the least environmentally damaging”. Working within the sustainability arena, I firmly believe that any production system has a role within agriculture provided that it is environmentally conscientious, economically viable and socially acceptable. However, the EWG’s promotion of organic or grass-fed systems as having a low environmental impact is ironic given that such systems actually have a greater carbon footprint per unit of meat or milk produced compared to their conventional counterparts.

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Posted by FFC on October 6th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Beef cattle,Feeding the world,Global Warming,Meatless Monday,Misconceptions,Organics,Sheep,Vegetarian
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The customer isn’t always right

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

I remember my marketing professor telling the class that: “People are motivated by their own interests, not yours.” So that means it’s important to meet their demands and pay attention to their opinions— discerningly.

It’s not that we in the farming and food communities shouldn’t listen to customers or place special emphasis on understanding their wants and needs, concerns and complaints. It’s that we should do so with discretion: Sometimes the customer is just plain wrong.

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Posted by FFC on August 15th, 2011 :: Filed under Consumers,Economics,Sustainability
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