The U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken a step toward increasing the production of organic foods – which has not kept pace with demand, by launching a program to certify farmland that growers are in the process of switching to organic. Story here.
Many farmers are embracing small-scale, sustainable agriculture and are focusing on selling their food directly to families throughout the province by developing community food networks. Story here. Details here.
My initial impression upon reading your Dec. 16 editorial Gear Canada to create new jobs was that the writer was indulging in sarcasm. Sadly, as I read on I realized that the message is that manufacturing and agricultural jobs are better off going off-shore, allowing goods to crisscross continents and oceans before landing on our plates or stores. Details here.
The world needs "a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high external-input-dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems." Full story here.
Permanent Pasture stands can be maintained by use of perennial polycultures that imitate the diversity of natural ecosystems. A diverse grouping of plants consisting of grasses, forbs, and woody species can make up a perenni- al polyculture and be used as pasture for grazing animals (ruminants), including cattle, sheep and goats. Animals on a perennial polyculture can contribute to nutrient cycling and an increase in soil organic matter. Established, maintained and healthy perennial pastures have also been shown to have a large capacity for carbon sequestration.
On our farm in Western Manitoba, we have counted over 30 different species of both native and non-native perennials and biennial forages, including nitrogen-fixing legumes such as alfalfa, pea-vine and various species of clover. These plants populate our permanent pasture that maintains a flock of sheep, a herd of goats and seasonal pro- duction of pasture-raised poultry.
Please send around and read his great letter to Members of Parliament.
Date: February 4, 2011 1:46:08 PM GMT-05:00
Subject: My future and Bill C-474: Your future too?
There is a vote in Parliament on genetic engineering this Wednesday February 9 that could help support the future of my farm.
Below is the letter I sent to Michael Ignatieff , Wayne Easter and my Member of Parliament, Larry Bagnell. I've asked them to support Bill C-474 this Wednesday and I hope my MP also speaks up in the debate on February 8. I urge all farmers who have a concern about genetically engineered crops or who already have negative experiences with GE crops to send a letter to your MP as well. Now is the time to tell our politicians how genetic engineering has already cost us or could harm our businesses and our families. Bill C-474 would support Canada's farmers by requiring that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted." We will not grow GE alfalfa here in the Yukon but it will contaminate my farm and I have no choice.
As a farmer in the Yukon who raises certified organic poultry, market garden vegetables and mixed hay, I ask you to be present and vote in favor of Bill C-474 on February 9, 2011.
Bill C-474 would support Canada's farmers by requiring that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”
Alfalfa is an essential source of nutrients and
organic matter for any organic rotation including feed or soil building green manure. It is grown in many places and is a major export regionally, nationally and internationally as pellets, cubes, fodder and seed.
As is quite evident with canola, no containment is possible and growing it organically is impossible.
It would be worse for alfalfa. With the flax crisis export markets were severely affected. There has also never been any epidemiological study done on genetically engineered alfalfa either.
Here, in the Yukon, we have possibly the last buffered region in Canada to prevent the contamination of pure seed and we also have feral alfalfa growing in several communities that wildlife relies on for nutrients into the long harsh winters. Organic farmers and chemical farmers alike grow alfalfa here for a burgeoning local livestock market and for green manure. With the protection offered in this bill our farms could be saved from any contamination. We don’t export alfalfa, however, alfalfa feed and seed is shipped up the highway to the Yukon to supplement our own small production and if genetically modified alfalfa seed is ever approved in Canada, the Yukon will be contaminated even if it is not cultivated here. Organic growers will lose their ability to grow one of the best crops available to them and possibly lose their livelihood in the process. There is zero containment possible, canola proved this. My choice as a farmer has been unilaterally taken from me, I will have contamination, my livelihood is taken away and no one is held liable. That is a devastating scenario.
I cannot stand against any company like Monsanto and their billion dollar budgets for marketing, lobbying and legal enforcement. There are thousands of small farming families across Canada who cannot possibly stand up against the multinationals. This is why we rely on the due diligence of our elected representatives in the house of parliament. My MP, Hon. Larry Bagnell, understands this issue for us here in the Yukon and will vote in favor of this bill to protect his constituency. He has my thanks, my support and my respect for representing us in the Yukon and protecting the future of my two children.
The growth of the organic sector and for sustainable locally grown feed and food is reaching a tipping point where it will become mainstream and the pride of every jurisdiction in Canada. In European countries, there is a satisfaction in the individual regions producing their specialty food; a cultural distinction based upon food produced. With any genetically engineered seed this is not possible and the farmers loose their right to save any seed.
This isn’t about the just the health safety of a feed, this is about the culture of food production, the future of sustainable farming, and the export capacity our farmers have been recognized for world wide.
This is not about feeding the world; this is about marketing at its worst. To offend peoples’ intelligence by saying that genetically engineered seed will save us all is a fallacy. For the last twenty years of production there has been zero health benefits to this genetically engineered seed industry, there has been only the promotion of ever increasing amounts of carcinogenic chemicals to sustain quarterly earnings of multinational chemical companies. No drought tolerant crop has been produced, no frost hardy seed has been developed, and it is quite simply the sale of chemicals disguised in marketing terms with an incredibly forceful lobby power.
I would ask you to vote for Bill C-474 to ensure there is an assessment done to protect the producers and value chain participants, the environment, the future of the strongest farming sector in the world, the organic sector, and our children’s future. This bill does not say no to genetic engineering, it works for the people of Canada to make sure the choices we make are based upon sound research into the impacts of questionable technology and marketing. Utilize the precautionary principle and act for the people of Canada who you represent.
Thank you for your time reading this and for being present to vote in favor of Bill C-474.