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Opinion

OPINION: My love for bats (but not up close)

OPINION: My love for bats (but not up close)

Like most rural families, we dislike mosquitoes and black flies. They make summer work miserable. Therefore, we have always appreciated having bats on the farm and try not to disturb them. They do a beneficial job for us and our livestock by reducing the number of biting insects and we appreciate it... Read more

OPINION: Please remain calm

OPINION: Please remain calm

Note 1: This is not about the U.S. election. Note 2: For every 100 scary headlines about positive COVID tests there should be at least one appeal for calm. Recent computer models predicted thousands of new COVID cases each day and even though that didn’t happen Premier Ford shut down restaurants and... Read more

OPINION: Sweden was right not to lock down

OPINION: Sweden was right not to lock down

Since it’s more dangerous for a healthy child to ride a bicycle to school than it is to be in school in this pandemic, healthy children can go to school.But you might think the fires of hell had been unleashed if you got your cues from teachers’ unions. In mid-August they told us that the […] Read more

OPINION: Suck it up Buttercup and get on the bus

OPINION: Suck it up Buttercup and get on the bus

Many people tell me that we really shouldn’t be sending our kids back to school. I have a lot of educators and health care types in my family and they warn darkly that the virus is bound to come roaring back this fall and force a second lockdown. I suppose this could very well happen. […] Read more

OPINION: Time for pickles, relishes, jams and jellies

OPINION: Time for pickles, relishes, jams and jellies

Vegetable gardens are now as richly productive as they are going to get and the urge to preserve the bounty is in full swing. We’ve had some let downs this year, largely, we believe to the scorching heat and desert-like dryness of summer’s start. Our zucchinis, despite making never-ending flowers, p... Read more

OPINION: Temporary foreign workers have same protections we do

OPINION: Temporary foreign workers have same protections we do

“Temporary foreign workers are entitled to the same benefits and protections as any other worker in Ontario.”  Those aren’t my words, although they are 100 per cent true. They were pulled from a Government of Ontario media release dated June 24, 2020. To be clear, these benefits include health care,... Read more

OPINION: Avoid selling crops around the U.S. election

OPINION: Avoid selling crops around the U.S. election

One of the core principles of a marketing plan is to put grain growers in a position where they can make a sale in order to take advantage of rallies as they occur and, even more importantly, to eliminate the need to make a sale at times when circumstances are not desirable. There are a […] Read more

OPINION: From the feds without love

OPINION: From the feds without love

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture asked the federal government for $2.6 billion to get through an economic lockdown created not by a pandemic, but by government response to a pandemic. We know that the federal government came back with $252 million but only $100 million for core agriculture. He... Read more

OPINION: Farmers unfairly blamed for COVID-19 spread

OPINION: Farmers unfairly blamed for COVID-19 spread

This summer has been the first time in my life that I’ve been reluctant to tell people what I do for a living. If it comes up in conversation, I try to find a way to change the subject. I’m a farmer. I grow broccoli with my son in Lynden, Ont., outside of Hamilton, just […] Read more

OPINION: When and how to dry off a milking cow

OPINION: When and how to dry off a milking cow

Dry cow management is a big topic right now. Part of the reason is because there is so much discussion about whether treating every quarter of every cow with an antibiotic dry cow treatment is a good idea. Another reason is that drying off is more complicated because average production has so steadi... Read more

OPINION: Life’s mysteries are not always solved

OPINION: Life’s mysteries are not always solved

As farmers, we are trained from birth to solve mysteries. Most of them present to us as puzzles, as in, why do I never have a half-inch wrench in this toolbox when there are at least a dozen of them somewhere around the place? But then there are the deeper mysteries, some of which never […] Read more

OPINION: Doing battle with potato beetles

OPINION: Doing battle with potato beetles

By Maynard van der Galien I have a heavy duty shop vac in my garage/workshop that is primarily used to clean out the seed drill after planting. The two-inch hose sucks up the seeds in no time. This summer, the shop vac served another purpose: Sucking up Colorado potato beetles. I had a huge infestat... Read more

OPINION: Biggest corn, soybean harvest in history?

OPINION: Biggest corn, soybean harvest in history?

Forecasting the markets is a bit like forecasting the weather. Meteorologists know from historical experience the combination of air temperature changes and barometric pressures that it takes to create a severe storm. So when they see those conditions forming they issue the appropriate forecast. The... Read more

OPINION: New guidelines improve colostrum management

OPINION: New guidelines improve colostrum management

Veterinary experts pretty much agree that getting enough colostrum soon after birth goes a long way to keeping calves healthy and giving them a good start. There are recommendations on ways to measure whether calves have enough colostrum. A few methods are easy enough that they can be used routinely... Read more

OPINION: No pandemic prison life for me

OPINION: No pandemic prison life for me

Ever wonder why you see so many large houses that were built more than a century ago, when money was scarce and times were tough? You see large homes throughout the countryside. And in areas where the land was prosperous for farming, an enormous house went up along with a stately bank barn. Families... Read more

OPINION: Wheat producers forward contract, avoid price slump

OPINION: Wheat producers forward contract, avoid price slump

The winter wheat crop is certainly one of the good news stories for Ontario agriculture in 2020. Great seeding conditions last fall enabled a large acreage to be planted, and excellent spring and summer weather have created enormous yield potential for this year’s crop. Ontario’s domestic flour mill... Read more

OPINION: RURAL CANADA: Our COVID-free zones

OPINION: RURAL CANADA: Our COVID-free zones

Rural people have been unfairly burdened by lockdown measures in this pandemic. They are also unfairly burdened by media hysteria. Whether it’s from nightly newscasts that whip up fear or the endless fixation on the number of COVID-19 cases, even healthy country dwellers can get the impression that... Read more

OPINION: How to stay positive: Try online polka

OPINION: How to stay positive: Try online polka

Right from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) crisis here in mid-March when schools and churches were shut down, I set some strict rules for myself on how to deal with it. Did I want to be living on a daily diet of gloomy news, current global death tolls, the impact of the virus [... Read more

OPINION: Answer the question

OPINION: Answer the question

Conservative MP Michael Barrett (Leeds-Grenville –Thousand Islands) was red-in-the-face incensed when he demanded an answer during the once-a-week social-distancing question period in the House of Commons on May 20. Said Barrett: “The prime minister is having a waterfront mansion built at Harrington... Read more

OPINION: Despite delays, life in the country goes on

OPINION: Despite delays, life in the country goes on

Country people don’t call it Coronavirus or COVID-19. They refer to it as: ‘That s—t thing that is going around.’ I replied to the friend who sent this by asking if she had been at our kitchen table the evening before. She replied no, but had found herself and her husband calling it what we [... Read more

OPINION: Heroes and villains

OPINION: Heroes and villains

Adversity builds character. It also tests it. In this historic moment that is changing how we live our daily lives, we have seen how some people rise to the occasion. Gray Ridge Egg Farms donated 108,000 eggs (600 cartons), distributed by 12 egg farmers, to communities from St. Marys to Niagara Fall... Read more

OPINION: Can livestock spread virus to people?

OPINION: Can livestock spread virus to people?

Is there any evidence that a coronavirus can jump from animals to people and vice-versa? Proving that something does not happen is always a bigger challenge than proving that it does. I think that it is well accepted that the coronaviruses that caused MERS and SARS jumped from animals to people. The... Read more

OPINION: When kids were tough and there were no snow days

OPINION: When kids were tough and there were no snow days

I read four very interesting books this winter. Run of the Town tells of a young man’s life experiences growing up in the northern Ontario town of Hearst. The collection of short stories takes place between 1940 and 1960. Author Terrence West taught me in Grade 10 in 1964 at the Eganville and Distri... Read more

OPINION: Watch the basis price to sell old crop corn

OPINION: Watch the basis price to sell old crop corn

Cash prices for grains and oilseeds are typically expressed as the sum of two contributing factors: “Futures” and “basis.” What’s really interesting about corn prices through the winter of 2020 is that those price components are doing entirely different things. “Futures” are the cash price of corn d... Read more

OPINION: When the stars align, for Pete’s sake, sell!

OPINION: When the stars align, for Pete’s sake, sell!

Every issue of every farm paper these days offers advice about how and when to sell a crop. A generation of ag economists have scolded us with the dark fact that two-thirds of farmers sell into the bottom third of the market. How do we keep ourselves from falling into that awful trap? Eight years [... Read more

OPINION: Damage we do by encouraging illegal blockades

OPINION: Damage we do by encouraging illegal blockades

The infamous British Columbia natural gas pipeline that provoked so many protests hasn’t provoked many B.C. natives around the pipeline project. That’s because the vast majority of natives in the areas of the pipeline want the project to go ahead. All 20 First Nations communities voted for it. The p... Read more

OPINION: The garbage police are lifers that won’t go away

OPINION: The garbage police are lifers that won’t go away

In the days of first settlement, towns like mine tried to deal with household waste by passing an ordinance requiring people to remove garbage from their properties at least twice a year. The law was impossible to enforce and a flat failure. The authorities gave up and nothing more was done about ga... Read more

OPINION: Federal gov’t to open wide the doors to death

OPINION: Federal gov’t to open wide the doors to death

I met Mark Pickup in Edmonton about 25 years ago after he began suffering from the onset of multiple sclerosis. He walked with a cane. He was cheerful, energetic and driven. He told me that when he was first diagnosed, he was shattered, fell into deep depression and contemplated suicide. If physicia... Read more

OPINION: January is a great time to watch soybeans grow

OPINION: January is a great time to watch soybeans grow

As farmers, we are essentially all wired to watch crops grow and have an intuitive sense of how conditions in the field are going to impact the marketplace. Although that’s a great skill to develop, the challenge of operating our businesses in a global marketplace is that some of the fields are just... Read more

OPINION: Farmers-turned-hedgehogs transform back to foxes

OPINION: Farmers-turned-hedgehogs transform back to foxes

An ancient Greek poet left a scrap of paper on his desk that somehow survived, got copied and passed down all the way to the modern era. The fragment said: “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The message may be fuzzy for that half of the world which has […] Read more

OPINION: On hope that comes with the best job in the world

OPINION: On hope that comes with the best job in the world

Actor Alec Baldwin’s wife Hilaria recently posted an Instagram message of her sorrows after her baby died. “We are very sad to share today that our baby passed away at four months,” she wrote. It was the shattering of hopes and dreams. She received an outpouring of sympathy from fans. It was touchin... Read more

OPINION: The great adaptors: Dutch immigrants to Canada

OPINION: The great adaptors: Dutch immigrants to Canada

Our family was one of the almost 185,000 Dutch immigrants who entered Canada between 1947 and 1970. Most of the immigrants only knew a few English words and they had little or no idea what they would find when they got here. In 1952, almost 21,000 Netherlanders, or Hollanders as some Canadians refer... Read more

OPINION: CMT better at finding infected quarters, studies say

OPINION: CMT better at finding infected quarters, studies say

The California Mastitis Test (CMT) has been around for a long time — so long that many people don’t think that it is very useful anymore. The basis of the test is quite straightforward. The CMT liquid breaks up any somatic cells in a milk sample and then turns the genetic material from inside those... Read more

OPINION: In these parts, we eyeball it

OPINION: In these parts, we eyeball it

“Use your eyeballs!” If I heard that command once, I heard it a thousand times from any number of old farmers who helped to raise me. It could apply to any number of tasks that needed my attention or to some very obvious risk to life and limb that was staring me in the face. […] Read more

OPINION: Scams and scammers can be among us

OPINION: Scams and scammers can be among us

Scams and scammers are now part of our lives. Daily they appear on our phones and computers or through the mail. We learn to recognize and ignore them for the sake of personal financial safety. But what happens when the scam comes in the form of a friend or family member? Are we as leery? […] Read more

OPINION: Mastitis, lameness can impact cow fertility

OPINION: Mastitis, lameness can impact cow fertility

Successfully getting heifers bred and getting cows bred back is an ongoing challenge on dairy farms no matter where you are nor what season it is. Reproductive success requires so many things to go right — you need to breed cows to conceive and when they conceive, they need to stay pregnant. The ans... Read more

OPINION: What’s time to a pig?

OPINION: What’s time to a pig?

Several years ago my neighbour Hughie turned up on the veranda with a basket of sour cherries. My wife thanked him and told him she would turn them into jam. “Don’t bother with jam,” he said. “Unless you can make the glass jars yourself, you’re better off to buy jam at the store.” I had […] Read more

OPINION: Stop scaring the kids

OPINION: Stop scaring the kids

Canadians aged 35 and younger made up the largest voting bloc in the federal election. That’s alarming for someone like me who has been convinced for some time that the voting age should be raised to at least 25. (There are a lot of people who shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but that’s for another [... Read more

OPINION: The great Canadian cringe-worthy election

OPINION: The great Canadian cringe-worthy election

Note: This editorial was written prior to the Oct. 7 leaders debate. The Oct. 21 federal election is around the corner and we’re looking at a nail-biter. What is most surprising is that, right out of the starting gate and despite all of the baggage, the Liberals were tied with the Conservatives in t... Read more

OPINION: New rules limit young calf travel to 12 hours

OPINION: New rules limit young calf travel to 12 hours

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) oversees transportation of livestock in Canada. It also works with many stakeholders to revise transport regulations. The most recent revision was just completed and the revised regulations are planned to come into effect in February, 2020. The changes will... Read more

OPINION: With no corn surplus, Ontario might need to import

OPINION: With no corn surplus, Ontario might need to import

For people who have been watching the corn market closely, these past few months have taught us some interesting things about the size and distribution of the 2018 crop supply, and also how growers should position themselves as we move closer to the 2019 harvest. One of the features which makes the... Read more

OPINION: Free money, the news media  and the upcoming election

OPINION: Free money, the news media and the upcoming election

Before Hitler’s tanks rolled across Europe, many people weren’t so sure he was the bad guy. But the news media should have known from Hitler’s own words in his ridiculous 700-page manifesto that proclaimed that the Aryans were the superior race and Jews should be sent packing. Until it was too late,... Read more

OPINION: How to deal with parasites in sheep and goats

OPINION: How to deal with parasites in sheep and goats

In June, the University of Guelph hosted an international veterinary conference on small ruminant health and productivity. One of the major topics was how to manage internal parasites in sheep and goats. Internal parasitism is believed to have one of the biggest impacts on animal health and producti... Read more

OPINION: Be happy you’re not growing cannabis

OPINION: Be happy you’re not growing cannabis

Two years ago, Joseph Hudek boarded a plane in Seattle destined for Bejing. Like so many, he thought marijuana, or cannabis, just made you happy, sleepy and hungry. So he bought several 10-milligram THC (cannabis’s active mind-altering ingredient) edibles. He figured that if he gobbled them down, he... Read more

OPINION: Why dairy farmers quit: Fed up and falling apart

OPINION: Why dairy farmers quit: Fed up and falling apart

As of now, there are only 3,445 dairy farmers left in Ontario. We all know farmers who have quit, the reasons varying from farm to farm. Usually it’s a combination of things but in the end there is always just one word for it: Stress. Computer illiteracy is often a challenge. Sometimes, the quitting... Read more

OPINION:  When farmers were poets and weather forecasters

OPINION: When farmers were poets and weather forecasters

I thought only farmers and outdoorsy people listen to weather forecasts. Not so. I read somewhere that 83 per cent of Canadians start their day checking the weather on television, the radio or the Internet. Farmers have a vested interest in knowing what the weather will be in the days ahead. Older f... Read more

OPINION: Sell soybeans if you see a storm coming

OPINION: Sell soybeans if you see a storm coming

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released their estimates of grain stocks stored on Canadian farms as of March 31. What’s of particular interest to us in this province is that their analysis placed the volume of soybeans stored on Ontario farms at 8750,000 metric tonnes. That’s up 34 % from the... Read more

Opining on pipe-smoking

Opining on pipe-smoking

When I was a kid, I thought only farmers and ship captains smoked a pipe. I was so surprised when my dentist walked into his clinic with a pipe in his mouth. That was in the late 1950s when most men smoked. An elderly woman at church told me that when she was growing up, […] Read more

OPINION: Why my household is boycotting Tim Hortons

OPINION: Why my household is boycotting Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons restaurants were once an iconic Canadian business. Founded in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario by pro hockey player Tim Horton (1930-1974) and Jim Charade (1934-2009), it was part of Canadian culture to grab a delicious coffee and a muffin with friends. It was a Canadian meeting place. In 1967,... Read more

OPINION: How to save a calf and reduce stillborns

OPINION: How to save a calf and reduce stillborns

Calves are the future of the dairy herd and the future and the profit of the beef cow-calf. Dr. John Mee from Ireland is a specialist in calf care and recently reviewed important aspects of new-born calf care. One topic he addressed was how to get calves going shortly after they’re born. Surveys sho... Read more

OPINION: Invasion of the plant-based burger

OPINION: Invasion of the plant-based burger

It was just a matter of time before we saw Beyond Meat, the California-based company partially owned by Bill Gates and meat-giant Tyson Foods, make a jump from drive-throughs to grocery store shelves. Beyond Meat recently announced that its vegan burger will be available at several large Canadian gr... Read more

Pneumonia is a common calf illness and we’re not sure why

Pneumonia is a common calf illness and we’re not sure why

Respiratory disease, pneumonia, is still one of the most common reasons why dairy calves, veal calves and beef calves end up getting sick. Because most of these calves are treated with an antibiotic drug, and many of them get better after being treated, we tend to focus on the bacteria that are part... Read more

OPINION: Rural folk are happier

OPINION: Rural folk are happier

If you’re happy and you know it, chances are you’re living in a rural community. That’s according to researchers at McGill University in Montreal and the Vancouver School of Economics, who evaluated the happiness levels of residents across Canada. After sifting through 400,000 survey responses and l... Read more

OPINION: Be prepared for end of March USDA planting report

OPINION: Be prepared for end of March USDA planting report

One of the most critical pieces of data which drives grain markets at this time of year is seeding intentions. Knowing how many acres of each crop are going to be planted in the spring is important to calculate the potential supply of each commodity for the coming year. With the South American harve... Read more

OPINION: Brace yourself for the carbon tax

OPINION: Brace yourself for the carbon tax

An Ontario grain elevator operator was incensed when he complained about his electricity costs and an Ontario Hydro representative told him to use less electricity. Only a government-regulated monopoly would try to solve a customer’s problems by telling him to “stop buying so much of what we sell.”... Read more

OPINION: Soybean prices in January were too high

OPINION: Soybean prices in January were too high

It’s certainly controversial to say that in a world where the biggest producer of soybeans is in a trade dispute with the world’s biggest consumer of soybeans, that prices are too high. But considering that the Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures contracts have been trading their way through 2019... Read more

OPINION: Breeding cows by selecting genome traits of sires

OPINION: Breeding cows by selecting genome traits of sires

A few years ago, I sat in on a dairy conference where farmers talked about their experiences after adopting new technologies. One farmer had fairly recently assumed responsibility for the family farm. His family had focused on breeding cows for the show ring but he had decided that he wanted to focu... Read more

OPINION: Why I hate the new food guide

OPINION: Why I hate the new food guide

Canada’s new food guide was unveiled mid-January amid much criticism. Leaning heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, water and protein from non-animal sources, it has many experts questioning its outright disregard for existing research and studies. The large reductions in animal-base... Read more

OPINION: Don’t Google my address, call ahead

OPINION: Don’t Google my address, call ahead

After 40 years on this little farm, I am still not sure where I live. I now have three addresses: one for Canada Post, one for the township and one for Google Maps. None of these organizations will recognize the others’ description of Lot 30 Concession 9 in old Nottawasaga Township. Lord knows I hav... Read more

OPINION: Not-so-free speech

OPINION: Not-so-free speech

An arrest last October on a downtown Ottawa street drew very little media attention. I was fortunate enough to learn about it by reading Fr. Raymond DeSouza’s column in the National Post. As the man charged was a Catholic priest, one might assume the worst. But 83-year-old Fr. Anthony Van Hee’s crim... Read more

OPINION: Benefits of selective dry-cow therapy

OPINION: Benefits of selective dry-cow therapy

Using dry treatment on only some cows is called selective dry cow therapy (SDCT). The concept of SDCT is not new but has gained new significance, especially in countries where authorities want to reduce the use of antibiotic drugs in situations where there isn’t good evidence they are needed. The be... Read more

OPINION: Secret to happiness? Serve others

OPINION: Secret to happiness? Serve others

Another Christmas brought with it touching moments of friendship and reflection and much to be thankful for. But there was more. In our post-Christian culture, pleasures are exalted and misery concealed until friends meet for a meal. I met with many friends over Christmas and was reminded of this so... Read more

OPINION: End of the world is here or near, until it isn’t

OPINION: End of the world is here or near, until it isn’t

Every three or four years, the Globe and Mail writes a truly depressing piece on the death of the family farm. The latest one came out in December and it listed some alarming facts: While the value of land, buildings and equipment has skyrocketed, the price of wheat is exactly where it was in 1980.... Read more

OPINION: Agree with me or else

OPINION: Agree with me or else

The day after last summer’s Ontario election, I was speaking with a man dressed in blue and he was not a cop. I asked whether his colours were in celebration of the blue wave, a Progressive Conservative majority government victory. “Hell, no,” he replied. It was pure coincidence, whereupon he launch... Read more

OPINION: Red-lining on the Stupid-o-meter

OPINION: Red-lining on the Stupid-o-meter

There’s no business that gives a person the opportunity to humiliate himself in public quite the way farming does. No other line of work offers the range of options for self-destruction while entertaining neighbours and passing motorists. Whatever a farmer is doing, he is always thinking about somet... Read more

OPINION: Corn price depends on exports and is easy to track

OPINION: Corn price depends on exports and is easy to track

Although most Ontario corn producers go into the fall with at least a portion of their crop already forward sold, as harvest progresses and growers have a better sense of exactly how big their total production is going to be, there are always a lot more selling decisions which need to be made, and a... Read more

OPINION: On trading with China: How far should we go?

OPINION: On trading with China: How far should we go?

Now that the U.S-Mexico-Canada trade deal has been signed, Canada is moving on to new trade with China. Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay was to go to China for eight days. It appears that agriculture has a lot to gain from more business with China. More commodity sales abroad are good.... Read more

OPINION: Eradicating disease here and overseas

OPINION: Eradicating disease here and overseas

Last month, I was lucky enough to attend an international veterinary conference. I don’t get to do that very often, although I do attend conferences in North America frequently. International conferences have quite a few attractions but two of the most important are that you get to hear about new in... Read more

OPINION: Soybean price is not set by tariffs

OPINION: Soybean price is not set by tariffs

There are too many Canadian farmers who think that if they patiently hold onto their crop until the Chinese tariffs are lifted, the soybean price will rally. Unfortunately, that’s only true if you are producing soybeans on the other side of the border. In the current market situation, Canadian soybe... Read more

OPINION: Poison for sale

OPINION: Poison for sale

By Patrick Meagher What if I told you that I had a new product that I knew would make tons of money but there were just a few health risks? What would you say? If you cared about your fellow citizen, you would likely ask, “What are the risks?”My product will make tons of money […] Read more

OPINION: It’s my quota, not Ottawa’s quota

OPINION: It’s my quota, not Ottawa’s quota

By the time this is published, there will either be a new NAFTA (or USMC if U.S. President Donald Trump yet again gets his way) or trade ties with the USA and Mexico will be finished and our government will make deals with other countries, including Mexico. Personally, I would prefer the latter, whi... Read more

OPINION: Panic, the trade deal and the real scary negotiator

OPINION: Panic, the trade deal and the real scary negotiator

I don’t own a television. One reason is that I often learn a lot more, a lot faster, by reading. Another reason is TV news is forever presenting a world in constant state of panic. Everything is an emergency. TV talking heads love to peddle fear and, clearly, people like to be frightened. The eviden... Read more

OPINION: 5 clues to a NAFTA deal

OPINION: 5 clues to a NAFTA deal

If you sifted through the noise on U.S.-Canada trade talks over the past year you would have seen signs that hinted to how it might all play out. Here are five. Firstly, take Canada’s official position to defend supply management. What it means in practice is what makes dairy, poultry and egg produc... Read more

To fix government, start by recalling politicians

To fix government, start by recalling politicians

It’s nice to know the government works for you. Ha ha. But seriously folks. This sorry gag was prompted by a recent question about how we can have political accountability with elected officials so tied to their parties. Theoretically, they’re accountable every election. But don’t party signs and we... Read more

OPINION: Can a cow’s somatic cell count get too low?

OPINION: Can a cow’s somatic cell count get too low?

Can a cow’s somatic cell count (SCC) get too low? Does having a low SCC mean that cows are more likely to get mastitis? Will selecting cows for low SCC mean that you are also selecting cows that are more likely to get clinical mastitis or even are more likely to get severe mastitis when […] Read more

OPINION: When day of persecution comes

OPINION: When day of persecution comes

On the day that the Supreme Court of Canada made a big decision and a big blunder, I was too busy to notice. I organized my day so I could watch an important World Cup soccer match with my kids. When I got back to following the movement of our culture, it seemed that most […] Read more

OPINION: We all want free trade… sort of

OPINION: We all want free trade… sort of

One of the cardinal rules of economics is that profit margins in free markets trend relentlessly toward zero. Another rule is that, in this race to the bottom, the small guy always gets squeezed out first. The history of all business is a relentless pattern of technical change, price-cutting, corpor... Read more

OPINION: Government is broke, broken and mismanaged

OPINION: Government is broke, broken and mismanaged

Only in the public sector would they celebrate the month Ottawa’s light rail expansion was meant to finish, even though it didn’t. It’s one laughable indication that government in this country is broken. Not broke. Broken. OK, it’s also broke. From Queen’s Park to Ottawa, even the debt governments a... Read more

OPINION: Mega-box farms saved by pastured cows

OPINION: Mega-box farms saved by pastured cows

The DFO’s February Grass-Fed Milk meeting in St. Bernardin drew about 20 farmers. Some, like us, have had cows feeding on grass for years out of a personal preference. A larger number of farmers were there to find out more and possibly drop the feeding of corn silage and butterfat-enhancing additive... Read more

OPINION: Ontario’s next government: Get out of the way

OPINION: Ontario’s next government: Get out of the way

I have an artist friend who is planning to move to the United States. Regulations pushed this free spirit over the edge. She recalled travelling recently to a large Canadian park for inspiration but was ticked by all of the signs telling her what she could and could not do. The most offensive was a... Read more

OPINION: The alarming disappearing dairy farmer

OPINION: The alarming disappearing dairy farmer

The April 2018 Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) Quota Exchange almost set a record, but not a good one. As usual, the online release listed all the pertinent figures, total quota bid for (11,753.81 kg), number of farmers looking to buy quota (827), the total amount of quota offered for sale (1,037.00... Read more

OPINION: Storm of the century? Hogwash

OPINION: Storm of the century? Hogwash

I was driving around the province last month trying to get to three distant and remote places on the same weekend just as winter gave its last wheeze and died. An ice storm swept up from the south, paralyzing all of the weather forecasters from Windsor to Ottawa. At first I thought of cancelling eng... Read more

OPINION: Socialism 101

OPINION: Socialism 101

I thought everyone understood the concept that stealing was wrong. But I assume too much because there are many who believe that socialism is the way to go. To me, socialism is as wrong as stealing because it is a form of stealing. Socialism, described by socialists, sounds as if it is a compassiona... Read more

OPINION: Ford or Wynne? We know the answer

OPINION: Ford or Wynne? We know the answer

If asked whether Kathleen Wynne or Doug Ford should win the Ontario election, many voters will be tempted to say “No.” Some are NDPers. Others simply find the choice unappealing. But if one must win, who should it be? OK, NDPers, there are three major party candidates. But yours won’t win. Remarkabl... Read more

OPINION: Are we really in favour of free trade?

OPINION: Are we really in favour of free trade?

If a true free trade deal were being made between two countries, it would take several hours to negotiate and be about two pages in length. Drawing on 1700s Scottish economist Adam Smith’s economics of “comparative advantage,” it would eliminate all subsidies, tariffs, anti-trade programs and free u... Read more

OPINION: 40 years of treating mastitis has changed a lot

OPINION: 40 years of treating mastitis has changed a lot

The National Mastitis Council held its annual conference in January in Tucson, Arizona. A major objective was to examine the 5-point mastitis control plan that has its roots going back at least four decades. The speakers who traced back the origin of the plan noted that it could be judged to have be... Read more

OPINION: We need a farmer-turned-politician again

OPINION: We need a farmer-turned-politician again

George Washington is the most famous example of a farmer-turned-politician. He reluctantly left his sprawling plantation overlooking the Potomac River to command the Continental Army for seven exhausting years. He got the worst of 16 battles over that time but he kept his army together and won the v... Read more

OPINION: Conditioned to live on the public teat

OPINION: Conditioned to live on the public teat

I was in a Quebec dairy barn in mid January. The smart, hard-working young couple running the show were about a month and a half into their new robot facility. Now that cow flow and production were going as planned, there was another pressing worry occupying their minds. Their banker had said that i... Read more

OPINION: What pickup trucks are really for

OPINION: What pickup trucks are really for

Every farmer inherits a set of choices that have already been made for him. He may think of himself as a rugged independent who charts his own course, but his green tractor, his Chev truck, Winchester firearms, white rum and Coke, and Die Hard movies all fit a pattern laid out for him by his [... Read more

OPINION: Orchestrating and managing a decline

OPINION: Orchestrating and managing a decline

Why do I get this sinking feeling that our prime minister is happy to orchestrate and manage the decline of the Canadian economy and the closing of Canadian minds? Maybe it’s just the words he uses and the plans he pursues. Here are some observations. As 2017 came to end, Germany, New Zealand, Austr... Read more

OPINION: Test new cows in the herd for disease

OPINION: Test new cows in the herd for disease

There doesn’t seem to be much actual data to support it, but my perception in speaking with dairy farmers in a few provinces is that some farmers are buying many more cows than they have in the past. In some cases, they have been buying entire herds. Buying cows often implies that there is an [... Read more

OPINION: Dairy cows are vulnerable to heat stress

OPINION: Dairy cows are vulnerable to heat stress

Midwinter doesn’t seem like a very good time to be writing about the impact of summer heat on our dairy cows but a couple of subjects have come up in conversations with dairy farmers in a few provinces that have made me think of it. One situation is that a lot of dairy farms seem […] Read more

OPINION: You can’t depend on getting to plow after Nov. 5

OPINION: You can’t depend on getting to plow after Nov. 5

I remembered the advice I got about fall plowing from an elderly farm neighbour in 1970. That year I quit my construction job and started farming full time with my father in a partnership. We had purchased a much larger dairy operation and moved in after Thanksgiving Day to our present day farm near... Read more

OPINION: 2017 will be the largest soybean crop in history

OPINION: 2017 will be the largest soybean crop in history

This past spring, American farmers planted the largest soybean acreage in history, and with only a few isolated exceptions, the environment didn’t do anything to limit that crop from reaching maturity in good condition.  The challenge facing oilseed producers today is how do we find upside opportuni... Read more

OPINION: Supply management isn’t perfect. But, what is?

OPINION: Supply management isn’t perfect. But, what is?

In the summer of 1965, I was a 16-year-old farm lad working in building construction during the day and helping with farm chores before and after work. All of Eastern Ontario was suffering from three very dry summers and many farmers had expensive hay shipped in from southern Ontario. There was plen... Read more

OPINION: Keep the mind sharp: Learn a dangerous skill

OPINION: Keep the mind sharp: Learn a dangerous skill

Now that I have turned 65, the inbox on my computer brings me a daily flood of new ideas for keeping my brain from turning to potato salad. Experts say the most reliable way to stay sharp is to learn a new skill — like playing the piano or picking up Spanish. I put four […] Read more

OPINION: Anti-Trump vitriol is more outrageous than Trump

OPINION: Anti-Trump vitriol is more outrageous than Trump

There are more outrageous things in this world than Donald Trump. Some come easily to mind: The news media that covers him, university campuses where it is politically correct to discuss killing him and social media, where if it were up to many users, he’d already be dead. I don’t like Trump tweetin... Read more

OPINION: Does the truth matter anymore?

OPINION: Does the truth matter anymore?

Another undercover anti-chicken farm video has been circulating, accusing Canadian chicken farmers of cruelty to animals. Problem is, this video does not depict a Canadian chicken farm. But the deception doesn’t surprise us. We expect it from the extreme left. When they howl, the news media often re... Read more

OPINION: Brazil’s bumper crop is a bummer for beans

OPINION: Brazil’s bumper crop is a bummer for beans

The start of the South American soybean harvest in early March seemed to directly coincide with a significant downward trajectory in North American soybean prices.  Yet throughout this whole process there was very little movement in American farmers’ indications on 2017 soybean planting intentions.... Read more

OPINION: People needed for the ethical treatment of farmers

OPINION: People needed for the ethical treatment of farmers

Just about every week I shake open the pages of the newspaper to find that some routine chore I have been performing since childhood has suddenly become illegal. Dragging trash to the road for the garbage truck used to be a sign of responsible citizenship. The progressives among us cheerfully said f... Read more

OPINION: The old days and old ways of selling grain are gone

OPINION: The old days and old ways of selling grain are gone

Should grain growers build on-farm storage bins to store grain crops so they’ll be able to sell when the price is better?  That used to be the case, but not anymore. In recent years, prices haven’t been much better in the spring, so why invest in huge storage bins? There are better options for marke... Read more

When a caretaker minister is preferable to an active one

When a caretaker minister is preferable to an active one

I remember growing up in rural Eastern Ontario in the 1970s and hearing my father complain about caretaker politicians, so-called do-nothing ministers of large portfolios who didn’t do much of anything. Sometimes I prefer the caretaker minister to the ones who suggest anything because the ones with... Read more

Dairy farm’s hydro bill doubled in eight years

Dairy farm’s hydro bill doubled in eight years

A winter job was to get rid of the old receipts dating back to 2000. Definitely too old, so I started opening binders and dumping the contents in a huge garbage bag to be burnt, stopping at 2010. As papers tumbled into the bag, one fell out, almost on cue. You guessed it, Hydro One […] Read more

There are plenty of misconceptions about farming out there

There are plenty of misconceptions about farming out there

A century ago, over half of Canada’s population were farmers. Most folks understood farming as it was done then because it was fairly simple. Today people are so far removed from agriculture and what they know is the scary stuff they read about growth hormones, steroids, genetically-modified organis... Read more

Worst case Ontario: Heating or eating

Worst case Ontario: Heating or eating

In the past two years, my provincial and federal taxes have increased. I lost my federal tax credit for my children’s soccer and swimming lessons. Our family’s child care tax credit has decreased. Even the cost to renew my vehicle licence went up. I have just started paying more for gasoline thanks... Read more

Watch the corn market; it’s controlling wheat prices

Watch the corn market; it’s controlling wheat prices

The total demand for Ontario grown wheat in this province’s flour mills is roughly 560,000 tonnes. Assuming that the North American Free Trade Agreement stays intact, we can traditionally move another 400,000 tonnes into the U.S. flour mills in New York, Ohio, and Michigan. The first million tonnes... Read more

Class Six milk unleashed export market for dairy products

Class Six milk unleashed export market for dairy products

Canadian dairy product per capita consumption is publicly updated every quarter by the federal government. Canadian dairy imports and exports are tallied on a monthly basis by Statistics Canada, comparing data to the same time period during the year before. Boring stuff, but also accurate as to tren... Read more

OPINION — Eastern Ontario school closures are justified

OPINION — Eastern Ontario school closures are justified

The announced closing of up to 29 rural schools by the Upper Canada District School Board has woken people up.  Apparently many were oblivious while the education system rotted in our rural society. For some, the hope now is if they bellow with the mob and put a sign on their lawn, their school will... Read more

This year is setting up for a Santa Claus rally

This year is setting up for a Santa Claus rally

In the Christmas season when so much of society’s conversation is about the joy of giving, and the value of generosity, it would seem appropriate if the commodity markets would share a little Christmas cheer with those of us in agriculture.  Is there such a thing as a “Santa Claus rally?” And might... Read more

Celebrate Christmas the Dutch way with pickled herring

Celebrate Christmas the Dutch way with pickled herring

In some countries, pigs are a lucky symbol and pork is eaten to ring in the New Year. It’s symbolic because pigs root forward while they forage for food (as opposed to cows, which stand still, or chickens, which scratch backwards). Pork, in all forms, is enjoyed by many hoping to embrace the challen... Read more

Trump struck a chord with rural and agricultural voters

Trump struck a chord with rural and agricultural voters

Some are interpreting Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election win as a rural roar. Looking at an election result map, aside from the urban West Coast and North East in Democrat blue, a vast swath of the United States — the part that is more rural — is solidly Republican red. Rural voters also ensu... Read more

This farmer is feeling like the world left him behind

This farmer is feeling like the world left him behind

I have been scoffing at animal activists and vegans for most of my adult life. That is partly because my mother came from a long line of Free Thinkers and food faddists who all shared the same deathly pallor that you see in people who work in health food stores. My grandparents were also nudists [... Read more

OPINION: NEWS MEDIA CREATED THE TRUMP TO BE HATED

OPINION: NEWS MEDIA CREATED THE TRUMP TO BE HATED

By Patrick Meagher SWEET BUTTER CRUMPETS! What happened in America? The American people crowned the man that the mainstream news media vilified. They crowned the man that Facebook users called a clown, a pig, and much worse. He was the man that his opponent Hillary Clinton said was supported by a “b... Read more

OPINION: We could see a pop and rally in wheat prices

OPINION: We could see a pop and rally in wheat prices

By Steve Kell All too often as we analyze commodity markets, there tends to be a preoccupation to look just at the big “bottom line” numbers such as total supply and total demand. We tend not to unpack those categories into the detailed elements which actually make up the figures we see... Read more

OPINION: OFA election and lack of interest

OPINION: OFA election and lack of interest

November is election month for Ontario’s largest farm organization, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). It should be something farmers care about. But I dare say that most don’t. Sure, they’re busy but they also need a reason to be interested. Who’s running this year? Most farmers don’t kno... Read more

OPINION: Bring back the greasy pig

OPINION: Bring back the greasy pig

By Patrick Meagher The cancellation of the greasy pig contest last month at an Eastern Ontario fair isn’t the end of the world but it offers us just one more clue that perhaps the 21st century really will shape up to be the century of the special interest group. The greasy pig contest was a [... Read more

Dairy farmers of Ontario now biting the hand that feeds it

Dairy farmers of Ontario now biting the hand that feeds it

Commentary by Angela Dorie Most likely the email inboxes at the Dairy Farmers of Ontario were filled with questions from farmers that seemed to all begin with: “What the hell…?” It was Friday, May 13, bad luck Friday, the day the Dairy Farmers of Ontario released the online copy of our ‘Final’ milk... Read more

Welcome to crazyland: where ridiculous ideas become laws

Welcome to crazyland: where ridiculous ideas become laws

Commentary by Patrick Meagher Reading the headlines the other day, I couldn’t help thinking that our country is headed for crazyland as more and more ridiculous ideas are becoming mainstream. Sometimes they become laws. In farm country, the increasing and often unnecessary legal restrictions infuria... Read more

Wanted: Courage in farm country

Wanted: Courage in farm country

I’ve been reminded more than once about a speech I gave five years ago in Nova Scotia to that province’s federation of agriculture annual meeting. The theme concerned rural Canada being steamrolled by urban-centric governments with their environmental and animal rights agendas. A timid sort of a man... Read more

Happier, healthier and hardier on the farm

Happier, healthier and hardier on the farm

When I married a city girl, I gave up my acreage in the country and my dream of owning livestock. But I am constantly reminded of the benefits of country life. You get to see more sunrises and sunsets than most and the tranquility can be existentially soothing. You have space to do what you [... Read more

The longest battle is over public opinion

The longest battle is over public opinion

The battle for genetically-modified (GM) crops was supposed to be over. Science won and the National Farmers Union, among many others, dropped the “frankenfood” attacks. That was 10 years ago. But now the battle for public opinion on GM food is back. And it’s no longer the big battle for hearts and... Read more

With no expertise, I became a consultant

With no expertise, I became a consultant

By Dan Needles It’s hard to make a living as a full-time writer these days. To make ends meet, we all have to take teaching gigs, go out on the speaking circuit or pick up a little freelance work in the business world. We live a lot like farmers do, trying to keep doing what […] Read more

A lower loonie means lucky farmer

A lower loonie means lucky farmer

As farmers we place an enormous amount of focus on crop conditions as a decision-making criteria for our marketing. But the biggest single variable in grain prices for Canadian farmers this winter is the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar. It has created a really nice up-swing in cash values for c... Read more

I believe in climate change but not in a crisis

I believe in climate change but not in a crisis

We now have a provincial Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and a federal department of the same name. Climate change must be a big deal. The Ontario government website explains. “The world is warming faster than ever and weather patterns are changing because of human activities.... Read more

STEVE KELL: Holding all of your corn is gambling

STEVE KELL: Holding all of your corn is gambling

  As harvest wraps up and the final bushels of the 2015 grain crop come in the from the field, many of Ontario’s grain producers are putting the final touches on their 2015 crop marketing plan, and sorting out which crops to store and for how long. One of the most interesting (and for sellers,... Read more

STEVE KELL: What do we do with the biggest wheat crop ever?

STEVE KELL: What do we do with the biggest wheat crop ever?

With an early start to the soybean harvest and excellent weather in the Great Lakes Basin, winter wheat planting is approaching record levels in the fall of 2015. Winter wheat acreage for the 2016 crop could be very close to double the 2015 harvested area. The question for all of the enthusiastic wh... Read more

Angela Dorie: Who wants to drive the premier at the IPM?

Angela Dorie: Who wants to drive the premier at the IPM?

The latest edition of the Williamstown Fair has ended. And, like every year in its 204 years, if there are two things it is good for, it is meeting up with people you haven’t seen for awhile and catching up on all the latest news. The following tale came from a trustworthy friend and is […] Read more

Farmers make lousy patients

By  Eastern Ontario dairy farmer Angela Dorie Just over a year ago, our Number One farmer broke his kneecap completely in two. “Like cracking an egg!” observed an ER nurse after seeing the X-rays. But “how?” “It was a stupid old man thing!” our Number One farmer s... Read more

Disease prevention in calves will boost your bottom line

By Dr. Rob Tremblay An international farm animal welfare conference was held in Ontario a few weeks ago to focus on the welfare and well-being of dairy and beef calves and included veterinarians from 11 countries. With the ProAction initiative from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, interest in dairy calf... Read more

OPINION: Premier is uninterested and out-of-touch

OPINION: Premier is uninterested and out-of-touch

By Patrick Meagher It was back in 2002 when the U.S. Farm Bill passed that required retailers to attach country of origin labels (COOL) to perishable agriculture products. That’s right: 13 years ago. Premier Kathleen Wynne was a school trustee, not even an MPP candidate. The year began with Premier... Read more

Opinion: Ag policy by survey or science?

Opinion: Ag policy by survey or science?

By Patrick Meagher I recently received, from a very personable and sincere beekeeper, a 10-page list of about 400 studies on the harmful effects of neonicotinoid-insecticides on honeybees. It was an impressive, long list. It looked exhaustive and unanswerable, a veritable slam dunk: Neonics are evil... Read more

OPINION: Half-truths about bees

Ontario Beekeepers’ Association is eco-activist and wrong,                   says Alberta beekeepers   By Lee Townsend Last month, a new website called Bees Matter was launched and included an open letter to Ontarians titled “Getting the facts straight on honeybees.” The site was develop... Read more

No such thing as hormone-free beef

By Maynard van der Galien I don’t like it when I see beef advertised as “hormone-free beef” because there is no such thing as hormone-free beef. Occasionally I see such a sign at a farmers’ market and I will go over and tell the vendor that it’s giving a wrong message to consumers. Hormo... Read more

Ontario declares war on crop farmers

Ontario declares war on crop farmers

  By Patrick Meagher Is your government looking out for you? How has it handled the issue of neonicotinoids? These are insecticide-treated seeds that are on almost every corn and soybean seed in the province, used by the vast majority of Ontario’s farmers. The province is right on top of it – micro-... Read more

Is a government-forced pension plan a good one?

Is a government-forced pension plan a good one?

  By Gord Hawley The Ontario government under the leadership of Kathleen Wynne made good on its promise to create a new provincial pension plan for all Ontario residents who do not work for an employer who already has a structured pension plan for employees. The pension plan will be mandatory and is... Read more

Raw milk? Not for calves

Raw milk? Not for calves

 Pasteurized colostrum is better for the calf,                   researchers say Raw milk? Not for calves   By Robert Tremblay At the risk of offending readers by writing about colostrum again, I want to bring dairy farmers’ attention to some recent research on a method of pasteurizing colostru... Read more

Milk board gets competitive

Milk board gets competitive

 Canada’s farm gate milk price drops 1 % as Europe ends quota                   system, increases milk supply   By Sylvain Charlebois For the first time in 22 years, the Canadian Dairy Commission has decided to reduce the price of milk at the farm gate by 1 per […] Read more

Mysterious case of missing sheep and the heavy-handed CFIA

Mysterious case of missing sheep and the heavy-handed CFIA

  By Ian Cumming During the last two weeks of February, in an Ontario courtroom, lawyers prosecuting charges brought by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) hope to persuade a judge that there is enough evidence to go to trial. A farmer could present the evidence in a day, but these are govern... Read more

We can do better than superficial

  By Patrick Meagher What are the things about people we really like? We could say it’s their good jokes or their good looks. It could be their charisma, or maybe it’s just that they’re fun to be with. We know that’s superficial but a quick look back on 2014 and it appears that we’re […] Read more

How to weather-proof hay

How to weather-proof hay

  By Maynard van der Galien Waste and carelessness don’t seem to bother some people. Every winter I see sparkling new, riding lawn mowers parked by the house. It’s fairly common to see motorized equipment just sitting out in all kinds of weather — not covered. I frown when I see farm machinery like... Read more

My dad, MacNaughton Cumming, the common sense dairy farmer

  By Ian Cumming Dad, farmer that he was, died just as he got up at milking time early on Tuesday morning Dec. 16. There wasn’t his usual alarm clock beeping and feet instantly on the floor, but rather the ringing of a bell, summoning my sister managing his at-home care, during these last weeks [... Read more

Tax tips: Know your credits, advice is worth paying for

  By Gord Hawley The Big Bang. That was the door slamming shut on 2014. Did you have a successful year? A profitable year? Did you reduce your debts? Did you increase your assets and net worth? This is the time of year to review last year’s results and make plans for 2015. Yes, I […] Read more

Up to 40 bacteria types can cause mastitis

  By Robert Tremblay Staphylococcus aureus (SA, for short) is a well-known cause of contagious mastitis in cows. SA is difficult to diagnose because milk samples from cows infected with SA are often negative when the milk is sent for culture. Not only is SA infection difficult to diagnose, it is dif... Read more

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