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As talk of the H1N1 Influenza spreads around the globe, pigs are bearing the brunt of people’s anxiety.

Pig farmers are already feeling the fallout as several countries; including Philippines, El Salvador, Honduras and Ukraine have banned Canadian pork products.  However, hog farmers are not taking this lying down; they have successfully lobbied the government to start referring to “swine flu” as H1N1. Now, they’re hoping to correct a misconception that eating pork causes the virus.

I caught up with Boehringer Ingelheim Canada’s swine specialist Dr. S. Ernest Sanford, DVM on Friday, to get his take on the situation.

Sanford believes the priority right now should be to keep the virus away from pigs, as they are the most susceptible.

“Pigs are in immensely greater danger to catch this disease from people than people are from pigs,” says Sanford.  “Even if pigs had the virus it does not go through to the pork we consume”.

In coordination with various Provincial Ministries of Agriculture and Veterinary Associations, Sanford released a statement last week to industry stakeholders confirming that:

  • Influenza A (H1N1) is not a food safety concern. You can continue to enjoy eating pork.
  • You cannot catch Influenza A (H1N1) from consuming pork or pork products.
  • Hog producers are continuing to implement biosecurity protocols, including restricted entry into their barns so that people will not pass the disease over to pigs.

Despite the hog industry’s best efforts, unfortunately the term swine flu will likely stick. It is up to us, as consumers to continue supporting our local hog farmers.

 

 (GUELPH, April 28, 2009) — Canada’s online agricultural communications diploma program at the University of Guelph is opening to a wider global audience.

           

The three three-day residencies that were part of the limited-enrolment program are being replaced with online learning modules to make the program more accessible, says Owen Roberts, the program’s academic coordinator.

           

“The feedback we’re getting is that the residencies restrict too many potential learners from enrolling,” says Roberts. “We want the program to be as widely available as possible, so we are eliminating the residencies.”

 

Roberts says lessons normally in the residencies, particularly photography and citizen journalism, will be offered online instead. Student presentations that were part of the residencies will be given through videoconferencing or other electronic communications means.

 

The agricultural communications diploma program is the only one of its kind. The 16-month, five-course program is dedicated to communications skill development and application. It concludes with a three-month virtual internship which pairs student learners with a communications initiative at an agricultural business, agency or organization.    

 

Applications are being accepted now for the 2009-2010 cohort. For more information, visit www.agcommunications.ca or contact Roberts at owen@uoguelph.ca. 

Roughly 4 years ago, I found myself in the middle of my Agricultural Science program at the University of Guelph- and wanting out. I love agriculture, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t know what I was going to do with my degree and chemistry was definitely not my strong point. I considered transferring to a Bachelor of Arts and Science program so I could use my passion for writing towards my degree, but there was something missing—– AGRICULTURE.

Almost by accident I signed up for the Agricultural Communications undergraduate class and here are some of the reasons why I will never be the same…

  • IFAJ: I had the opportunity to travel to Norway to take part in the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists annual meeting. This gave me the chance to meet others like me as well as those who have been in the business for years- with tonnes of advice.
  • SPARK: Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge is a program at the University of Guelph that I had the chance to work for one summer. It allowed me to turn research facts into something that everyone can understand and appreciate.
  • Professional Education: I am currently taking the Agricultural Communications Post Graduate program at the University of Guelph. This has continued to teach me how to communicate effectively and the importance of doing so.
  • Owen Roberts: If you haven’t heard of him already, look him up. He is a Professor of both the Agricultural Communications undergraduate and postgraduate programs– and a true inspiration. www.urbancowboy.ca
  • Finding a niche: This program gives you a competitive edge when looking for careers. Think about it, not only do you know about agriculture– but you know how to effectively communicate agricultural activities and practices to the public- that’s pretty cool.

Whether you are an agriculture student or just plain interested in agriculture. Check out what ag-communications can offer you: http://www.agcommunications.ca/

syrup
iStockphoto.com/ImageInnovation
Pancakes and waffles aside, maple syrup is an important to Canadians. Not only is this sugary syrup tasty, it constitues a rural way of life that is often taken for granted.
MSN recently released the TOP reasons to indulge in this sweet Canadian treat, check it out–
 
1) It’s as local as they come
Canada supplies 85 per cent of the world’s maple syrup, according to Agriculture Canada. True, it’s not local to all Canadians—91 per cent of Canada’s maple syrup is produced in the province of Quebec, followed by New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—but this sugary treat is a lot more “local” than sugar cane and many other nature-derived sweeteners. So it’s a blessing to locavores, who are trying to lessen their carbon footprint by sourcing food products locally.
 
2) It could disappear
A March 2006 report by Environment Canada’s Adaptation and Impacts Research Division suggests that climate change could spell disaster for Canada’s sugar maples—and the industry they support. Sap only flows for a short period of time every spring and is highly sensitive to climatic conditions: the air must be below freezing at night and above freezing during the day, with an optimum temperature range of -5°C to +5°C.
According to the report, global climate models project that, over the coming century, a warming climate will cause sugar maple forests to shift two degrees of latitude north. In fact, it is already happening. In the past decade, the flow of sap has started earlier than usual in some parts the continent, and the duration of the season is decreasing.
Sap flow can also be affected by precipitation, snow pack, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and ozone, and acid rain. The latter causes a loss of nutrients in the ecosystem, which affects forest productivity. According to Environment Canada’s EnviroZine, “Some estimates put annual timber losses at $197 million from reduced forest growth and $89 million from damage to the maple syrup industry in eastern Canada.”
 
3) It keeps us in trees
Maple trees mean money, providing an economic incentive to keep sugar-bearing forests—and the ecosystems they’re part of—intact and healthy.
Canada exports maple syrup to nearly 45 countries, and global demand is on the rise. Take Japan, which is second only to the United States as an importer of Canadian maple syrup. “Maple product imports to Japan were approximately 8.6 million pounds in 2008, an increase of some 7.2% compared to 2007,” says Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “The Japanese market is especially loyal to the product.”
Non-timber forest products, such as maple syrup, honey, berries, mushrooms, are increasingly factoring into plans to protect the boreal forest by linking conservation with economic development. Of course, harvesting maple syrup and other products from forests is not without consequence, but if the process is well managed, it can help to ensure the long-term survival of large swaths of forest.
In fact, the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada, a certification and labeling system that ensures that wood products come from responsibly managed forests, is now certifying maple syrup. Woodlots in New Brunswick and southern Ontario have received FSC certification. Scott Davis, FSC’s forest certification coordinator, says, “The woodlot owners that participate in our certification program are eligible to market and sell their syrup as FSC certified once they agree to some conditions. The syrup is really the same as any other—we are just recognizing the responsible management that went into the woodlot that created the sap and syrup.”
 
Certified organic maple syrup is also available. National organic agricultural standards were introduced in 2006, and for maple syrup production they govern everything from the maintenance and development of the sugar bush, to the collection and storage of the maple sap, to the processing of the sap into syrup and derived products. The standard also applies to the sanitation of equipment and storage of the finished products. In Quebec, the Reserved Designations Act has governed organic designation since February 2000. Its standards for maple syrup production can be viewed here.
 
As of 2005, Quebec had 279 certified organic maple syrup farms, Ontario and New Brunswick each had eight respectively, and Nova Scotia had three farms.
 
4) It’s more versatile than ever
A drizzle of maple syrup makes just about any dish—sweet or savoury—irresistible. And today, there are plenty of new options in maple-based products: In addition to maple butter, there’s maple vinegar, maple concentrate and maple flakes—all of which allow you to get creative in kitchen.

Happy Earth Day!

earth20day205r2What is Earth Day? To me it is taking a good look around at our beautiful country sides are NOT taking them for granted. It serves as a reminder that we all must do our part in protecting the environment- not enviro-conscious for one day out of the year.

It is in everyone’s best interest to be environmentally responsible and nobody realizes this more than farmers.

A 2007 study by AGCare (Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment) showed that Ontario’s farmers are environmental leaders. The study showed that:

·         Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by the equivalent of taking 125,000 cars off the road through improved soil conservation measures

·         Farmers have spent at least $600 million on environmental improvements and 300,000 days in environmental training

·         Over 70% of farmers have voluntarily participated in the Environmental Farm Plan Program

Every day should be Earth Day in agriculture and we need to keep promoting this message. If you’re being a responsible environmental citizen, let people know why it’s important to you.

I challenge all of you to communicate to the non-agricultural public, our industry’s role in the environment. Share with them how agriculture is making the earth a better place.

For more information on the AGCare study, please visit www.caringfortheland.com

Please ALSO visit the following site to learn what EVERYONE can do to make a difference- http://www.earthday.ca/pub/resources/media_releases/2009-04-16_edc_top_10/index.html

1472764360_74ad5b0d95“I agree that steps needed to be taken to address the use of “cosmetic” pesticides, it’s a sad state of affairs when science and common sense were pushed aside by scare tactics and emotion.”

This is an exert of a letter written by International Environmental Consultant, Dean M. Stanbridge of Milton, Ontario to the Canadian Champion publication. 

Stanbridge continues to say that the new pesticide rulings are adhering to heresay and rhetoric and not scientific facts. He believes that with using small amounts of pesticide and common sense— controlling noxious weeds in ones lawn should not be an issue.

A good point is raised in this letter:

 “To further that perspective, the average vehicle leaks about a litre of an unknown mix of oils, gas, antifreeze and other liquids per year. The combination of these fluids, are neither tested, regulated or registered.”

Perhaps it is time that the government reevaluates their priorities.

To read the full letter, please visit: http://landscapemanagement.blogspot.com/2009/03/reasoned-response-to-ontario-ban.html