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Agriculture Education

Agriculture Training Support Program in Alberta

Agriculture Training Support Program is intended to offset costs for COVID-19 safety and training, including the costs for personal protective equipment and to remove any barriers to getting Albertans safely working. As part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Risk Management programs, this program will improve the agriculture and agri-food sector’s ability to anticipate, mitigate and prepare for risks that could have a major financial impact on the livestock and plant industries, or affect human health and safety.

By providing up to $5 million in support to farmers, agri-businesses and food processors, the program helps offset the cost to train new employees safely in new agri-food roles.

The maximum government contribution under the program is $2,000 per new employee, up to a maximum of $50,000 per employer. Grants will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis until available program funding is fully allocated. In addition, approximately $1 million in funding will be targeted for meat processors to provide support for new hires to undertake meat-cutting training.

Read more at Canada.ca

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Food Safety Supply Chain

It’s not the food supply chain that’s breaking, it’s the meat supply chain

Supply lines across the food industry have been impacted by the coronavirus. Shuttered restaurants, university dining halls, workplace food providers, and more have all strained the food supply chain. In particular, the meat industry has suffered the hardest hit. In addition to closures of many of its largest purchasers, COVID-19 outbreaks inside meatpacking facilities have forced largest meat processing plants to shut down. The cold, damp conditions and crowded workstations in meatpacking plants make infectious diseases particularly hard to control.

On April 26, Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat processor, closed at least six major plants. Similar covid-19 outbreaks were reported at Danish Crown A/S, a huge pork producer; Goikoa, of Spain; Sanderson Farms Inc., America’s third-largest poultry producer, and Cargill’s High River slaughterhouse outside Calgary. The whole situation is an incontrovertible nightmare. But the pandemic is an opportunity to ask more probing questions about the nature of our system of animal agriculture.

Since COVID-19 began, we’ve seen plant-based product sales growth exceed that of animal-based products, both in meat and dairy categories. In the United States, sales of vegan meat jumped by a staggering 280% and sales of oat milk jumped by 477% in the second week of March compared to the same period last year, as the country became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. This meat crisis has become a big opportunity for plant-based protein companies that have developed healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional animal products.

Choosing a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for the environment as plant-based diets are kind to the earth and kind to animals. As is the case with plant-based meat, plant-based dairy supply chains are much better poised to respond in real-time to changing market conditions and are not vulnerable to the type of disruptions inherent in industrial animal agriculture.

Categories
Agriculture Fisheries

‘Survive, reboot, and grow,’ is the ‘new normal’

Amid the challenges in global food systems due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippines, is ready to take on the challenge of the ‘new normal’ facing the country’s agriculture and fishery sector. It is imperative for the government to rethink and restructure its policies and practices to prevent from being overwhelmed by future crisis. DA is considering a three-pronged strategy to bring agriculture back to normalcy.

  1. We must simply surpass this global crisis.
  2. We must reboot and reform our agricultural policies, and refocus our priorities to minimize the adverse effects.
  3. The agriculture and fishery sector must grow, by attracting more investments and resources, and partnering with the private sector.

Together, we will survive, reboot, and grow toward a food-secured nation.

Read more at Philippine Information Agency

Categories
Food Security

Drug-resistant diseases that jump from plants to humans

The current coronavirus pandemic shows how unprepared humans are in fighting pathogens that originate in wildlife and jump to humans. Human immune systems are equally unprepared for drug-resistant diseases that jump from plants to humans. Drug-resistant fungal diseases are emerging as a major health threat, including Candida auris—a highly infectious fungus. Fungi are continually mutating, and with a very short life cycle measured in days or weeks, they mutate quickly. 

One theory for Candida auris emergence is that the overuse of fungicides killed off all of its competitors, causing C. auris to undergo explosive growth.

The current pandemic offers a clear message that we must be better in mitigating the risks associated with infections. One of the solutions in plants, could be gene editing, that can play a vital role in preventing pathogens from developing the drug resistance. Advances in genetics have given us an understanding of nature’s gene editing process in plants, helping us develop resistance to a disease.

Read more at ScientificAmerican

Categories
Food Security

Being rich is no longer a guarantee that you will be able to get the food supply you want

From the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, price rises and food shortages have fueled conflict, toppled leaders and overthrown regimes. In this COVID-19 pandemic, countries may face an excruciating trade-off between saving lives or livelihoods or, in a worst-case scenario, saving people from the corona virus to have them die from hunger. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and oil-exporting countries may be severely affected as they are net importers of food with populations that are dependent on income from remittances and tourism.

Yuan Longping, the Chinese agricultural expert, said China is completely able to achieve self-reliance in terms of grain production but said the COVID19 pandemic serves as a warning for those who are lax on food security. The coronavirus has done more than disrupt supply chains, it’s restarted a discussion about self-sufficiency tinged with nationalism. A lot of countries have introduced restrictions on overseas sales of grains or rice since mid-March, which serves as a wake-up call to governments.

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Uncategorized

Positive side: Farmers in direct contact with big buyers

The lockdown is driving some long-awaited positive changes in agriculture – it is bringing farmers in direct contact with big buyers in cities and is forcing a change in cropping practices that will help rejuvenate the soil and conserve water. The acute shortage of labour will severely restrict the popular practice of paddy transplantation in Punjab and Haryana which increases the yield but is very water intensive and depletes groundwater significantly. As much as 12 times man-days of labour is required in paddy compared to wheat.

Read more at The Economic Times

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Uncategorized

Farmer forced to dump 17,000 gallons of milk

Farmers in North Carolina are dumping fresh milk they can’t sell during the coronavirus pandemic. Homeland Creamery supplies milk to restaurants and coffee shops. Many of those establishments are closed. There is a 65-percent decrease in total milk sales. Because there’s no one to buy milk in bulk, Bowman said he has no choice but dump it in a pasture down the road. Bowman said he’s dumped 17,000 gallons of fresh milk since the pandemic began. I would say probably about $160,000 if I had to put a dollar figure on it.

Dumping the milk is the worst. That’s the profit going down the drain.

In the meantime, to keep business afloat, Bowman opened up a drive-thru at his creamery, selling small quantities of milk, homemade ice-cream, and other items.

Read more at WBTV

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Uncategorized

The One Health Act: human health, animal health and the environment .

Human health, animal health, and the environment are all interconnected. There is a need for national framework that interconnects all of the federal agencies and departments to better prepare for, respond to and ultimately prevent the spread of diseases. The One Health Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture, in coordination with other specified agencies and departments including the Centers for Disease Control, State Department and Department of Commerce, to create a plan for addressing zoonotic disease outbreaks like coronaviruses.

This plan, called the One Health Framework, will outline how agencies share information and engage in fieldwork to help better prevent, prepare for and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks. Zoonotic diseases – or illnesses that spread between animals and humans – can be fatal. We cannot wait for another catastrophic disease such as the coronavirus to come about before taking unified action to prevent and address these illnesses

Read more at Successful Farming

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Uncategorized

COVID-19 and the Capitalist Food System

As we discover our agricultural system is responsible for spreading the virus, we also realize how perilously dependent we all are on those very systems of food provision for survival. Both of these problems are caused by one problem: our food system as a whole is controlled by private, for-profit capitalists. It is the profit motive and competition that compels agricultural producers to brutally rationalize and homogenize nature in the form of the monoculture plantation or mono-species livestock operation. These not only provide perfect ecological systems for virus transmission, they also replace formerly biodiverse ecologies that tend to keep wild viruses at bay.

A possible alternative: Socialize the Food System

Rather than simply abandoning the agro-industrial supply chains we depend upon, we need to think about how those supply chains could be reconstructed if they weren’t controlled for profit. This means confronting the fact that the existing food system contains advantages we can’t fully abandon. Any socialist food system would need to find an equitable way to distribute this kind of labor throughout society.

Read more at Jacobin

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Uncategorized

Veterinarians ready to aid human medicine in pandemic

When it fast became clear that the world faced a shortage of supplies to treat COVID-19 patients, veterinarians across the world sprang to donate medical equipment, including ventilators and surgical masks. Now, veterinary professionals from London to New York are preparing to offer something else: themselves. The strain on national health-care systems is worsened by instances of physicians and nurses becoming infected with the virus. According to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of April 9, at least 9,282 health care workers in the U.S. alone had COVID-19, and at least 27 had died.

Britain’s government-backed National Health Service (NHS) last week offered select veterinarians the opportunity to earn the equivalent of up to £24,157 (USD$30,080) per year to help treat human sufferers of COVID-19. In the U.S., a number of states, including New York, Illinois and Vermont, are asking veterinarians to stand ready to assist if needed, whether by offering their medical expertise in hospitals or by taking care of the dead at mortuaries.

Read more at Veterinary Information Network