Talking about Species at Risk

A researcher named Dr. Carolyn Peach Brown, Environmental Studies, from the University of Prince Edward Island is looking for participants in a study about young farmers’ perspectives on environmental conservation and Species at Risk on Prince Edward Island (PEI).

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Barn Swallows are at risk in PEI (see Island Nature Trust for more information).

Specifically, she is looking for any farmer on PEI between the ages of 18 and 50. Knowledge about Species at Risk is not necessary for participation in the study.

The aim of the research is to better understand the role that young farmers are playing, or can play, in protection of the environment and species at risk on PEI. This will provide important information to guide the development of policy and educational programs about Species at Risk on PEI.

Your participation would involve participating in a face-to-face interview with Angela Costello, UPEI Student Research Assistant. The interview will ask questions about your awareness and knowledge about Species at Risk on PEI and your perspective on their protection. The interview will take approximately 30 – 45 minutes to complete, at a location and time that best suits you. Your participation will be anonymous. In other words, your personal identity will not be revealed. Those who participate in an interview will have the option of having their name included in a draw for a $100 gift card from an agricultural supply store of their choice.

These interviews would take place from December 2019 – March 2020.

If you would like to participate in this study, please contact, Angela Costello, acostello@upei.ca OR would like more information about the study, please contact Dr. Carolyn Peach Brown, 902-620-5066 or hcpbrown@upei.ca.

NFU announces new report: Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis 

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The National Farmers Union has just released Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: A Transformative Strategy for Canadian Farmers and Food Systems. The report examines in depth the impacts of climate change on agriculture in Canada, as well as the opportunities that agriculture provides to become part of the solution. The report presents a balanced analysis that considers both the impacts of the climate crisis on agriculture and the realities of the vulnerable financial situation of farm families.

 

Key conclusions include:

  • The climate crisis is a threat to Canadian farms, but also an opportunity to re-orient our farms to become more integrated, life-sustaining and community-sustaining.
  • The farm crisis and the climate crisis share many of the same causes, and many of the same solutions.
  • The climate crisis will increasingly impact the ability of Canadian farms to produce food. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
  • Priority must be placed on incentivizing low-input, low-emission agricultural approaches.

In Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: A Transformative Strategy for Canadian Farmers and Food Systems, the NFU makes the case that we must immediately embark on a pursuit of sustainable practices to make farms and the food system more resilient to climate change that is already locked in, while reducing our GHG emissions to mitigate further climate change. The report argues that a climate-friendly food system can be designed to increase farm income.

Using, and paying for ever-larger quantities of fertilizers, fuels, chemicals, plastics, and other inputs have increased emissions and at the same time lowered farmers’ net incomes. Between 1985 and 2018, input costs consumed more than 95% of farm revenue and left farmers with just 5%. The amount farmers pay annually in interest to banks and other lenders roughly equals the amount paid to farmers via farm-support programs each year. In effect, taxpayers are covering farmers’ interest bills, transferring tens of billions of dollars to banks and other lenders. Thus, the report argues that a low-emission food system will necessarily be a low-input food system that increases farm profitability.

According to Katie Ward, President of the National Farmers Union: “Both the climate crisis and the farm crisis are so complex that no single report can provide all the answers. This report, however, does have many answers — some of which could be implemented right away. Others provide a starting point to opening up the climate conversation in the agricultural sector. Options that will work for different geographic locations, soil types, or types of farms will be explored, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The NFU’s proposal is that we must increase soil carbon levels and embark on an emission-reduction strategies simultaneously.”

2019 National Convention – November 24-27

November 24 –  27 2019

Fifty years ago, the National Farmers Union held its very first national convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This year, we’ll be back to celebrate our achievements, honour the members whose dedication and wisdom helped us achieve so much, pass on the lessons we’ve learned along the way, and help shape our vision for our next fifty years on the front lines of agriculture.

Dates: November 24 evening, November 25 – 27 all day
Times: Nov. 24 pre-Convention social, registration and book launch 7 – 10 PM
Nov 25 – 27 Registration opens 8 AM
Nov 25 – Public Event – Avi Lewis keynote speaker 7 PM
Nov 26 – Banquet and Dance 6:30 PM – midnight (banquet tickets available in advance or at Convention desk until noon)
Location: Canad Inns Destination Centre Polo Park, 1405 St. Matthews Ave., Winnipeg.
Registration is in advance or at the door (Meals are not included in registration fees) Click here for advance registration and banquet tickets.

Hotel rooms at Canad Inns Destination Centre Polo Park,  Convention Room Rates: $119 (plus taxes) Single King bed or Double Queen beds (Parking included). Call: 1-204-775-8791 Ext. 5 (direct to hotel) or Email: shepner@canadinns.com Use room block #371730

Certified Organic Beef Producers at Macphail Homestead October 25

The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation is pleased to announce that the owners of the PEI’s only certified organic beef farm will be presenting the 8th annual George McRobie Lecture at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead, Orwell on Friday, October 25.  The McRobie speakers are Mike and Evelyn Lafortune owners of the Dexter Cattle Company, North Milton. 

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a reception offering a soup with biscuit ($6) and a cash bar, followed by the Lecture at 7 p.m. The title of the lecture is “Dexters – Climate Change Warriors“. 

The Lafortunes will share their practical experience as beef producers, marketers and organic producers.   Their philosophy of sustainability is focused on a holistic management approach with their Dexter cattle and the environment. Mike and Evelyn will speak about how the business decisions they make directly impact their own farm while contributing to their broader community and an enhanced local economy.  They recognize the opportunity on PEI for consumers to live close to where their food is produced.

Dexter cattle are a heritage dual purpose breed originating in Ireland. They are the smallest of the European cattle breeds. They stand at only 92 cm-107 cm at the shoulder and weigh on average 300 -350 kg.  

This special lecture series is named in honour of Dr. George McRobie.  Dr. McRobie was one of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable agriculture and appropriate small-scale technology. He was a close friend and colleague of the radical economist E.F. Schumacher, whose landmark book ‘Small Is Beautiful’ made such an impact in the latter part of the 20th century.

The Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead is located at 271 Macphail Park Road, Orwell.  Admission to the lecture is by donation.

Land Transactions: Government must exercise its people-given authority

By Douglas Campbell
District Director of the National Farmers Union

The National Farmers Union (NFU), like many other Islanders is still in shock after seeing the Irving family name on yet another land transfer. Rebecca Irving, the young daughter of Mary Jean Irving was able to put more PEI land under the Irving name. No one would dare suggest that Ms Irving’s newly crafted corporation, Red Fox Acres, is connected to Irving corporate empire.

In PEI, people have become accustomed to silence about how the Irving family has gained such wide ranging control. Some people are even afraid to speak out. That is understandable. However what is not understandable and very disheartening to watch is the apparent powerlessness of the PEI Government to exercise its authority in the face of corporate power.

The NFU has emphasized the need to place emphasis on enforcing the “protection” aspect of the Lands Protection Act, i.e, its spirit & intent. The loopholes in the Act have served the interests of the Irvings and others in the corporate sector. We have also warned about the lack of transparency in the MacLauchlan government’s Business Corporation Act. This act received unanimous support from all MLAs in June, 2018).

It is significant that when the Irving corporations, in their varied combinations, were no longer allowed to use the Lands Protection Act loophole, they found an open door in some provisions of the Business Corporation Act. The 2,200 acres to which they wanted titled ownership suddenly became the property of a newly formed corporation. Then an Irving family member, under the Business Corporation Act, was able to buy this new corporation and its assets aka, the 2,200 acres. All legal, they say.

Governments of the past did not display a simple deficiency of political will to protect the resources and life sources of PEI. Rather what they have displayed is a distorted political will to openly serve the interests of corporations. Do they think that the people do not see this? It is common to hear people say that it is corporations which run PEI, not government.

It is our belief any government which lurks behind the veil of powerlessness is unworthy to govern. This is an opportunity for a new government to take a different path to protect the Island, its land/water and its people. Our message to the current PEI Government is that you have the authority to make legislation. Now use it. You have the authority to replace any legislation or articles of legislation to protect the interests of Islanders. Now do it. You have the authority to declare null and void the latest Irving acquisition (and maybe some former ones). Now do it.

The NFU would like to see the Honourable Bloyce Thompson take a stronger stand against the latest Irving acquisition. He is not only minister responsible for agriculture and lands but also as Attorney General is the overseer of all legislation. Minister Thompson must be seen to take control of the situation. The same goes for Premier King, who in the fever of the election campaign vowed to make open and transparent the workings of the Business Corporation Act and its Regulations. Open and transparent government was his pledge to Island voters. We are still waiting to see the openness and transparency.