Glyphosate; a safe tool in my tool box

To all my friends and family members who have heard about the recent court case ruling in the states against roundup please read below. I apologize as a farmer for not doing my best to communicate from day one that what we are doing and using is safe and I would like a chance to respond now

As a farmer I use glyphosate in my fields to control weeds in the spring and in the fall so that my crop has a chance of growing. You see I am tasked with attempting to grow enough food to feed the world. Glyphosate the chemical ingredient in roundup is less toxic than caffeine, salt and beer. We follow proper procedure and safety protocols to make sure our use of it is safe. Without the use of glyphosate many will turn to much more toxic chemicals to try to control their weeds and unlike some of the ‘natural’ chemicals organic farmers are licensed to use like copper sulphate, glyphosate does not build up in our soils nor is it toxic to animals. Without this very important tool we would be forced to turn to methods that set the stage for the dirty 30’s we would be forced to till our fields relentlessly to try to control the weeds that threaten our crops ability to grow and thrive. Not only has glyphosate allowed to adapt no till farming methods reducing our soil erosion by 50% but it has also allowed us to create healthier soil that retains more carbon.

As humans we attach emotions to our decision making and the jury in the court case you mention made a ruling based on emotion not science. I feel for this man and his family I truly do, what they are going through is unimaginable and in a way it means as a farmer I have failed to communicate the safety in what I am doing. Many have issues with round because it is a chemical that came from Monsanto and they view them as the big evil. If glyphosate was as toxic as everyone with no science background or proof is trying to say it is than farmers would have been dying from in for the past 40 years and we are not. I kindly ask you and anyone reading this post to reach out to a farmer next time they see an article written not in science but rather in fear to drive an agenda, because we want to be part of the conversation.

As a mom I know what it is like to try to navigate a crazy world and raise my children safely and I want to assure you that you do not need to fear food. You do not need to stand in a grocery store isle stressed and wondering if that product was grown in a way that is safe for your children, I assure you it was. My children snack on the grains we raise right out of the field and I know that is okay because science has proven it safe. Health Canada completed a review of glyphosate only last year and ruled with the science that it is a safe herbicide for us to use in our fields and a chemical that you do not need to fear.

Link to Health Canada’s report summer
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/reports-publications/pesticides-pest-management/decisions-updates/registration-decision/2017/glyphosate-rvd-2017-01.html

Carbon Tax and Grain Farming

I am going to preface this post by saying that I am in no ways a climate change denier. I do however believe that a tax on carbon is not the best way to move forward, especially within an industry that is already pushing to become more and more sustainable and sequestering carbon and decreasing carbon emissions. We need to work with industry and think past our borders to work with other countries that are industrializing.

I’m sick of people telling me the tax can be rebated back to me so that it doesn’t cost me as farmer. What is the point in taxing and then giving back, how is that supposed to ‘force’ a change? A change that agriculture is already pushing toward without a dictated tax.

Below is a description of what a forced carbon tax would mean to me, a grain farmer in Saskatchewan.

Data from the Parliamentary Budget Officers report link at the bottom. Numbers compiled by the shadow Ag Committee, analysis based off 25$/ton.

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Recently I had the pleasure of being present for a speech from John Barlow, one of the shadow ministers for agriculture. He talked about carbon tax and had some numbers that really got to me. By 2022 or for a province under which a carbon tax is forced (like Saskatchewan) the ‘average’ crop farm will owe $20,000.00 a year in carbon tax. Average acres being defined as 1375.

Let me explain what that would mean for my farm. This year we seeded 2100 acres and we are considered a small farm in the area we farm in. Running calculation of a forced carbon tax of $50/ton on 2100 acres our farm would owe $30,291.00.

$30,000! Let that amount sink in for a minute and now picture adding it to a farmers already extensive list of expenses. We pay rent or mortgage on every single acre that we farm, we have insurance premiums and bills for fuel, chemical, seed and fertilizer. We have large equipment loans for equipment we use approximately 6 weeks a year and of course we have the labor costs associated with running our operations. To this add one of the largest challenges farmers face and that is we have zero control or influence over our end prices. We cannot raise our commodity prices to offset our growing expenses. For a young farm family, a new farmer or a farm that has had a couple bad years in a row a tax of $30,000 or more could potentially sink their operation.

Now we have heard the Federal Government respond saying a tax won’t be that bad or that perhaps in agriculture the carbon tax will only be charged to a farmer on fuel. But the reality is if there is still a carbon tax applied to other facets of agriculture like fertilizer, transportation and equipment manufacturing it will still be the farmer footing the bill.

Canadian farmers are working hard to diminish their carbon footprint without government intervention. Adapting no till farming practices has resulted in a measured reduction of 1.5 million tons of carbon per year by just decreasing the amount of nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer application. In layman’s terms crop land loose less nitrogen when not tilled or worked less. When crop land is farmed using no till practises it also becomes a more efficient carbon sink thanks to increased levels of carbon in the soil from undisturbed organic mater like roots. In 2015 Canada’s crop lands captured 14 million tons of carbon, largely from no till farming practises.

Currently the Federal government does not count or acknowledge the carbon sequestration from agriculture when calculating Canada’s carbon emissions. But the Federal government is quick to attempt to force a carbon tax on Canadian farmers. Carbon emissions from Canadian agriculture only account for about 10% of all Canada’s overall emissions. Canadian farmers are working hard to become more sustainable and environmental with the use of best management practices like no till, all without having a tax forced upon them.

https://sencanada.ca/content/sen/committee/421/AGFO/Briefs/2017_11_29_Follow_up_PBO_e.pdf

 

 

Canada’s Ag Day 2018

Today we celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day!!

Agriculture isn’t only the industry that employees me. It is my families business, it is the way we choose to lives our life and raise our little girls. It is also the way in which we connect to our country and the world.

In agricultural we are always learning, inventing, adapting and growing to become more sustainable, more environmental and more productive.

Thanks to minimum till practises we save more than 170 million letters of fuel from being burned annually in Canada.

Since 1987 soil erosion in wheat production has decreased by 50% in corn production 69% and in soybean production 49%.

In 2014 Beef production contributed $51 billion to Canada’s economy and cattle thrive on grasslands where crops would not.

Canada is the worlds largest producer and exporter of durum wheat, which is used for making pasta! Canada is also the worlds largest exporter of lentils, both of which my family is proud to grow!

Canada is the worlds second largest exporter of malt barley, some companies even love our malting barley so much they have moved their breweries here!

Recent increase in Canola biodiesel use is the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off Canadian roads because biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 99% over gasoline.

My family is proud to farm and we are proud to be part of the 97% of Canadian farms which are family owned and operated!!

Happy Ag Day Everyone!

If you enjoyed the stats in this post head on over to Agriculture More Than Ever’s website for these and many more!

 

The Big Sin Tax Debate

Should a sin tax be added to meat? This is what PETA is currently pushing for claiming meat, poultry and fish are just as bad for the human body as smoking cigarettes. I personally would be horrifically sick if I tried to become vegetarian or vegan. My body needs red meat and animal protein and performs better with than without it.

I find it sad that there is so much of the wrong information out there currently being made sensational by multi million dollar lobby groups like PETA. Almost half the people voting on an online survey believe a lady they do not know when she says that there should be a sin tax on meat. Claiming vegans don’t get diseases and cancer at the same rate other ‘meat eaters’ do. Therefor vegans should not have to foot the extra burden of everyone else’s healthcare. And when I say meat eaters she is also referring to taxing poultry and fish because it’s all equally bad and that is where all the E. coli outbreaks come from in her mind. I can’t count the number of times veggies have been recalled due to E. coli and many times contamination is traced back to workers unwashed hands, especially in meat processing.

I do not have anything against people choosing to be vegetarian or vegan. I love that we live in a country where most people have access to so much food and are not struggling to feed their families that they can choose their diets, this is not a reality in many places. What I have a huge problem with is food shaming and that is exactly what this is. If we have the stance that fed is best when it comes to formula or breast milk for our babies why do we suddenly start putting down others choices when it comes to food? How is the mom feeding her children organic only better than the mom who buys what she can afford? Should one feel better about her decisions than the other? No. Should one feel she is the cause of her children’s health problems? No.

I kindly ask you to take the time to speak to the agricultural experts in this discussion. Reach out to the farmers and ranchers and talk to them. Discuss your worries or fears with them, I guarantee they will take the time to talk to you and to help you find links to articles actually based in recognized science because they want a chance to tell their side of the story.

A Boxing Day to Remember

Boxing Day left the farm at 5:30am and drove 6.5 hours to look at a combine header in Manitoba. We bought the header, got stuck trying to get it out of the Quonset and then had to wire trailer lights in -40 and start the journey home. We had planned to make it half way and stay the night in Regina. We made it 90km outside our halfway point and blew a tire on the header transport.

We were on the side on the highway in -40, did I mention yet it was -40 😳 trying to change a tire and it’s gotten dark. We had the wrong jack and couldn’t get the transport high enough to take the tire off. My father in law makes custom wood furniture and the stain sample blocks were in the truck so we used them to block up the header and rejack. After beating on the tire for 10 minutes we got it off only to realize the spare we had didn’t fit. During this whole process I was blown away by how many vehicles didn’t slow down or change lanes to give us space. We put the blown tire back on and slowly drove on the rim, speaks flying till we found an approach where we were able to leave the header just off the highway on a grid road. That all took us 1.5 hours and we wrecked the rim in the process.

We spent the night in the Regina as planned, first thing in the morning went to a tire shop with the old rim and bought 2 new rims and tires so we would have a spare. Got back out to the header and realize the new tires don’t fit either 😑 oh and it’s still -40. At this point I put a call out to Ag twitter while my husband started calling equipment dealers trying to find a rim. Thanks to my tweet we had a farmer friend meet us in under 2 hours and lots of other messages with offers to help! By 1pm we were back on the road heading to the Regina to pick up the brand new rim we tracked down and get a tire put on it. Huge thanks to Danny for coming to our rescue and for Youngs Equipment to sourcing the only Macdon rim in Regina for us, thus allowing us to have a spare in case we blew another tire.

By this point it’s 3:30pm and we make the call to spend another night in Regina so that we can safely drive home during daylight the next morning. Luckily the Grandparents had the girls as they would not have fared well on our trip. What an adventure we ended up having! My heart is full knowing that I am part of the agricultural community, a community so amazing that it comes together to help out fellow farmers no mater the day or the temperature!

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I am a farmer, I am struggling and I’m not alone

Last night at 1a.m, I read an American article on farm stress and suicide rates (link at the bottom of the page) .Part of why I was still up at 1am is that I am stressed, so extremely stressed about our farm, farm bills, personal finances and supporting my little family not just financially but mentally as well. If I am stressed about all of the above, my husband’s stress levels are through the roof and he is starting to hit a wall.

As I sat thinking about why the article upset me so much other than the obvious reasons I realized that at this moment in time; when it comes to farming I feel like I am digging my own grave to follow my dreams.

This was my 5th harvest, that’s how long I have been farming. I am still new at this, although my husband was farming before I came along. Since I came to farming every year has gotten harder for us to make it work. Every year we dig our hole a little deeper and add more stress to our load. Every year we think we won’t be able to make it another year and then somehow we scrape enough together to get next seasons crop in the ground. I don’t want to say how many times we have talked about the possibility of having to sell land to continue on and how detrimental that would be to our mental wellbeing.

One thing that has added to my personal struggle is the realization that when I try to reach out to friends who are not farmers or in the agricultural industry for support they do not understand my stress, my anxiety or my fears and this only adds to my feelings of isolation. In 2016 we had a 10 minute hail storm come through during harvest. We should have been in the field combining but our fields were too wet to get machines into from the insistent rains we received that year. In 10 minutes our crops were destroyed and I was devastated. I reached out to an online moms group as I didn’t want to show how upset I was to the world. They tried to support me and I love them all for trying but until you have been through that you just cannot commiserate. It is not the same as having hail damage your summer garden.

I am a proud person, I do not like asking for help nor do I like airing my personal failings to others; however my feelings, my struggles and my emotions are all to common in our industry. Below are stats from a Guelph University study on farmers. It is because of these stats and the knowledge that suicide rates are twice as high in farmers in the USA than war veterans, and that in France a farmer commits suicide every 2 days, every 4 days in Australia and once a week in England that I am sharing my own struggles. You are not alone and I am here if you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to lean on. Saskatchewan farm stress line 800-667-4442

35% of farmers are suffering with depression
40% of those with depression wouldn’t seek help
45% of farmers are living with high stress everyday
58% of farmers are living with anxiety

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/06/why-are-americas-farmers-killing-themselves-in-record-numbers

A page from ‘Mad Men’

Let me preface this post by saying that I am a feminist. I believe I am equal and just as capable as my husband. I even cringe at the term stay at home mom because for me it comes with too many decades of gender baggage. That being said I understand love languages and the importance of letting my husband know I care about him and not just in a sexual way.

Last night as a surprise I took a page from ‘Mad Men’ and traveled back in time to the 1950’s. I was planning a lovely dinner for friends that fell through and I turned it into the opportunity to surprise my man. I did my hair, my makeup and pulled out a vintage dress from my closet. If you know me you know most days my hair is in a bun, I have zero makeup on, there’s a good chance I haven’t brushed my hair in a couple days and my clothes may have been worn the day before. But last night I put myself together and made a delicious herb butter rubbed prime rib with mashed potatoes, carrots, gravy and Yorkshire puddings. I greeted him at the door with a smile and a kiss and said “welcome home honey”.

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I had to make supper anyway but the simple action of turning it into a special night for him was a wonderful way to show him how much I care. He works so hard for our family, working full time at his off farm job and full time on the farm. He is the sole bread winner at the moment since I currently help farm and stay home with our 2 young daughters. I am so guilty of getting caught up in the day to day of life and not appreciating everything he does for our family and I am learning that it’s okay to acknowledge and praise his role without down playing my own.

Since it’s not the 1950’s both our little girls were still roaring around the house when he got home. After supper he gave them a bath while I cleaned up and I know he was just as happy as they were to have time together. Before we know it spring will be here and once again we will be ran off our feet busy with the farm. It’s nice to enjoy the downtime that comes with cold and snow and recharge for next year ❀️

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