Today, the front page of the University of Guelph website today is boasting an article about a research project aimed at researching sustainable farming methods for Haitian farmers. The lead researcher on the project is Manish Raizada is researching the potential of producing sustainable agriculture kits that could be distributed to small farms and improve their agricultural practices. This type of well thought out research is what Haiti really needs in this time of need, as opposed to the impact foreign intervention has had in the past as is mentioned in a recent Toronto Star article about the plight of creole pigs in rural Haiti. Lets hope that their are good improving times arriving to Haitian farmers sooner rather then later!
Back on January 18th I wrote a blog about how OFAC and PETA both take extreme stances on agricultural issues. Yesterday a PETA activist from New York, threw a pie in the face of the minister of fisheries Gail Shea. Shea was in Burlington opening the Aquatic Life Research Facility, when the PETA activist stepped up and pied her, in the midst of her speech. This type of action is fairly extreme and rather unproductive in that most of the media coverage today is about the intended research and the ministers reaction to the pie rather then the message that PETA was trying to deliver via shaving cream. So does this mean that PETA is more extreme then OFAC after all or if the tables were turned and the minister of agriculture was instead presenting legislature going against modern animal agriculture practices, could you see an OFAC supporter sending their message with a little shaving cream to the face?
This past Friday was the SFOAC’s annual Aggie Goodtimes, a semi-formal banquet attended by most agriculture science and agricultural business students. It’s an opportunity for students to get dressed up and celebrate their colleges and some of their top athletes, clubs and students. Every year their is also a guest speaker, this year the speaker was Andrew Campbell from Farms.com. Andrew commented on the impact and possibilities in social media, new technologies and the internet in order to increase consumer knowledge. Unfortunately his talk was heavily biased and blatantly one sided in support of industrial agricultural and purely vilifying any organization opposed to the decisions of industrial agriculture. He called for students at the banquet to take up arms in a sense and write blogs and join Facebook groups in support of industrial agriculture. I agree with the concept and clearly am following his directions by writing this blog, but some of his comments I have severe issues with including a statement he made about the well funded anti-agriculture lobby such as Greenpeace and PETA. I recently say a video that mentioned this topic and contrasted the “well funded” lobby versus the lobbying spending of the major agricultural corporations. I hope Andrew is ready to have both sides of these issues represented fairly and that vilifying an opponent does nothing for his argument, even if he feels they are vilifying his opinion.
In a recent cabinet shuffle Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty removed the current agriculture minister Leona Dombrowsky who had held the post since 2005. She was replaced with former backbencher from Huron-Bruce Carol Mitchell . After doing a little reading I found that between 2003-2006 she worked as the parliamentary assistant to then agriculture minister Steve Peters, which should be helpful in her new position. With a background in local rural politics she seems well suited in my opinion for the position, also some of the policies she lists on her website including her backing of high skills majors in high schools seem interesting to me. Coming from the Huron county a highly productive and rapidly changing agricultural area, she should have a good understanding of the major agricultural policy decisions that will need to be made over the next few years.
When I started looking for something to talk about today, I decided to look for some local news, so I went to the Wellington Advertiser a newspaper that I read frequently as a kid growing up. The advertiser has an entire page of OMAFRA news and on their website I found an interesting story. The story was entitled “Size does not matter when determining worth of farmers” and was written by Grant Robertson the Ontario coordinator of the NFU. The story talks about a radio talk show that had guest, including representatives from OFAC and PETA, talking about different sizes of farms and their benefits and drawbacks. In the news paper article he states “The most alarming part of the show was how much total misinformation was being spread by all of the guests.”. I thought the story brought up some good points, take a look and leave me a comment!
A new $10.5 million research project is ready to get started at the University of British Columbia under project leader Dr. Loren Rieseberg has aims of developing a reference genome for the entire sunflower family. The sunflower family is the last agriculturally important plant family that doesn’t already have a reference genome. This family of plants is also current the largest family of plants in the world with 24,000 species. An article on Science Daily describes the possible advances in sunflower breeding that could be achieved with this new knowledge. Perhaps hybrid sunflowers could be produced that could produce both large amounts of edible seeds and large woody stocks that could be used for cellulostic ethanol production.