Laura Rance

  • Glyphosate-resistant kochia calls for changes in weed war

    News that the troublesome weed kochia has developed resistance to yet another herbicide descended on the province's farmers last week like the first snowfall of winter. They knew it was coming but dreaded its arrival.
  • Handlers planning boost in grain storage

    The press release file of late has been full of announcements from Canadian grain handlers outlining their plans for investment in new and expanded facilities. Add them all up and there are about 150,000 tonnes of additional commercial storage coming into play across the Prairies in the next year, an increase of 1.3 per cent over the current 11.6 million tonnes in 415 facilities. Chances are, there will be a few grain bins going up on farms this year too.
  • Cooking: Try this at home

    Oh the melodrama. Tune into prime-time television after dinner these days and you'll find yourself right back in the kitchen with reality-show contestants competing mercilessly to be the best cook. There's MasterChef Canada, with Dora the plumber squaring off against Danny the construction worker and Mike Green, a journalist from Winnipeg conspiring to create a dust-up between Kaila the realtor and Eric the chemical engineer, while Pino the stay-at-home dad smirks over his risotto.
  • Tories help 'marketing freedom' along

    It was clear from the day they were first elected that the federal Conservatives had an agenda to deliver "marketing freedom" to western Canadian farmers. But beyond that, there was no plan. Now, less than two years into a so-called open market, we have the unprecedented scenario of a government-owned company purchasing and constructing grain-handling facilities in direct competition with the private sector, and legislation placing two politicians in charge of dictating to the railways how much grain they should move.
  • World's water needs raise warnings

    This might sound trite to Winnipeggers who have been living without access to running water for most of the winter, but welcome to the real world. Their situation, albeit temporary,puts them in solidarity with the 80 per cent or so of the world's population that lacks access to water in their homes. The city's water woes, first with discoloured water and then frozen pipes and fractured water mains, perhaps makes today's World Water Day particularly poignant.
  • Railways' pursuit of profit leaves customers behind

    A few people rolled their eyes back in November 2011 when Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told a legislative committee hearing getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly meant farmers would no longer have to start their trucks and augers at -40 C in January. It turns out the minister was right -- but for all the wrong reasons.
  • Good times uncertain until arrival

    It goes without saying the calculated gamble we call farming is not a job for the faint of heart. But the latest data on the farm sector's financial performance strongly suggest Canada's farmers could be in for some of their best times in history amid growing global demand for agricultural products, good harvest returns and historically high prices.
  • Brit went from bioterrorist to biotech believer

    It's always a challenge for farm-meeting organizers to come up with keynote speakers that will draw in the troops. So when someone comes along with a good story to tell, he or she can get a lot of mileage on the speaking circuit. What better story is there than a conversion, someone who has gone from being a bioterrorist -- breaking into research facilities and tearing out genetically modified crops -- to becoming a biotech believer?
  • Flax an overlooked crop, but that may change

    When a reader emailed the Manitoba Co-operator recently to question the accuracy of a story we carried about research showing flaxseed's health benefits, our first reaction was to agree the story couldn't be right. "In the article on flaxseed lowering blood pressure, you may want to have the author correct the statement about flaxseed costing '25-50 cents per ounce!' That would be a really nice price for flax! ($225-$450/bu.) However, if she meant 'per pound,' then it makes more sense -- $14-$28/bushel.
  • Threat to pig herds has small, bright light

    Just as they were on the cusp of profitable returns after years of negative margins, a new threat looms for Manitoba hog producers. Manitoba officials put the word out late Thursday porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) is here, affecting at least one southern Manitoba hog operation.
  • Fortunes for cattle farmers are finally turning around

    It's no secret the cash-flow situation for grain farmers is looking a little hellish this winter. Their bins are stuffed with last year's record harvest and the grain trains have been sluggish, to put it mildly. Farm leaders are asking creditors to go easy on their grain-rich, cash-poor customers and the industry's best and brightest -- led by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz -- are putting their heads together in search of a solution.
  • Depression hurts, wherever you happen to live

    The Facebook post by a woman who lives in my community was hauntingly honest last week on the day devoted to getting people to talk about mental illness. "Yes, I have shared every possible link to Bell Let's Talk Day. I suffer from depression myself so it is important to me," the posting began.
  • System promises chickens a kinder, gentler slaughter

    It used to be that if the preacher was coming for dinner, a chicken met its maker before lunch. Cooking up a fresh bird was the on-farm version of fast food long before Col. Saunders hit the scene with his Kentucky Fried franchise. A hen could contribute to the family's breakfast and still be dressed and on the table for the main meal. Having its neck wrung or head chopped off was obviously a no-win situation for the bird, but at least its suffering was limited to a matter of seconds from the time it was scooped out of the chicken coop.
  • Unlikely partners work together in Netherlands

    Some have described the Netherlands as a living laboratory for sustainable intensive livestock production, and it's easy to see why. With 16.7 million people living with 11 million hogs, 80 million chickens and 400,000 cows in an area one-fifteenth the size of Manitoba, it is impossible for the animal industry there to operate below the public's radar.
  • Family farm declared best agricultural unit

    Debating the future of the family farm has been a popular pastime in policy circles in the past 50 years. Opinions ranged from those who viewed family operations as quaint but economically inefficient and something to be gently guided into obsolescence, to those who argued they play a multi-functional role that needs to be preserved at all costs.
  • Host of holidays began on the farm

    2So begins the editorial titled Yule Logs and Wheat in the December 1929 edition of The Scoop Shovel, the co-operative-owned farm publication that was the forerunner to today's Manitoba Co-operator. Editor J.T. Hull spent the next several hundred words describing the history of winter solstice celebrations that preceded Christmas. Many of our holiday traditions, such as exchanging gifts, the yule log, and mistletoe, took place for thousands of years before the coming of Christ.
  • International treaty puts farming at crossroads

    Depending on whom you listen to, the federal government's decision to embrace a 22-year-old international treaty expanding plant breeders' rights will either put Canadian farmers on the road to prosperity, or be the end of farming as we know it. It is entirely possible it will contribute to both.
  • Shelterbelts go by wayside

    The view from the old farmhouse window on cold, blustery winter days was spectacular -- in a moonscape sort of way. There wasn't much by way of trees to block those fiery, red sunsets framed by sun dogs as the snow drifted across those flat-as-a-pancake fields. It's a view I'm glad I experienced as a child. But it's not one I miss.
  • Railways making hay while grain sits in bins

    Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has been doing his best to put a brave face on what appears to be a looming wreck when it comes to getting this year's bumper crop of grain to customers. Industry officials say grain elevators are filled to capacity across the West, while export terminals sit empty and ships are lining up at Vancouver waiting to be loaded.
  • Ritz crackers in daycare lunch sign of times

    We've all had a chuckle over the case of the Manitoba mom fined by the daycare for failing to send a grain-based food with her kids -- only to have the staff feed them Ritz crackers. Crackers are indeed grain-based. But nutritionally speaking, they tend to be full of empty calories and devoid of dietary fibre. As the lunches this mother sent contained meat, two vegetables, a piece of fruit and milk, the crackers potentially displaced nutritional food sent from home.
  • Food for thought as farm commodity prices fall

    The meteoric rise of Twitter's stock price must be a little galling to farmers who have watched farm commodity markets fall like a stone as reports of this year's bumper crops here and elsewhere keep rolling in. How is it that the microblogging medium built around delivering short bursts of inconsequential information could attract $25 billion in its initial stock offering when it hasn't turned a profit -- not even once -- since it was formed seven years ago? In fact, it declared a $70-million loss in its most recent quarterly report.
  • Horses joined us in battle

    I don't know a lot about my grandfather's experiences as a sergeant with the horse brigade in the First World War. He didn't talk about it with us. I do know that while he never fought in the trenches, his brigade was charged with supplying the front lines.
  • Our farmers get more sizzle than steak in EU trade deal

    Ever since the concept of multilateral comprehensive trade talks under the World Trade Organization unofficially collapsed under the weight of the Doha Round, trade negotiators have been criss-crossing the globe in search of bilateral deals to boost the flow of goods -- and national economies. In that vein, Canada's recent agreement in principle for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is presented as a coup for this country, putting it a step ahead of the U.S., which currently does double duty as Canada's biggest trading partner and biggest competitor in world markets.
  • Far too much food wasted, experts say

    The World Food Prize/Borlaug Dialogue held in Des Moines, Iowa, each October is an award and conference named in honour of the late Norman Borlaug, the American plant scientist who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his development of higher-yielding "Green Revolution" wheats for India. Understandably, much of the dialogue is around the familiar theme of how to double food production by 2050 to feed what is now expected to be a global population of 9.6 billion, with many focusing on seed as the chosen instrument.
  • Far too much food wasted, experts say

    The World Food Prize/Borlaug Dialogue held in Des Moines, Iowa, each October is an award and conference named in honour of the late Norman Borlaug, the American plant scientist who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his development of higher-yielding "Green Revolution" wheats for India. Understandably, much of the dialogue is around the familiar theme of how to double food production by 2050 to feed what is now expected to be a global population of 9.6 billion, with many focusing on seed as the chosen instrument.

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