Looming problems in antibiotics a warning for plant breeding

(January 19, 2017) I had an aunt who only lived for nine days in 1919.  Like so many children and young women in the age before antibiotics she was killed by a simple bacterium that can now be cured with a short round of antibiotics. From the 1930s onward those antibiotics were developed by dozens of private companies driven by a profit motive usually provided by government procurements to...

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The year farms got smaller

(January 4, 2017) Like an old Queen once said of another year, 2016 was an Annus horribilis for most prairie farmers.  Bumper crops ended up snowed under or degraded by excessive rainfall.  The pull-type combine made a comeback with many farmers adding a four wheel drive tractor on standby to rescue combines stuck in the mud.  But hey, when not stuck in the mud or buried in snow, the yields...

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Farmers lose in port storage arms race

(December 22, 2016)  Some months ago I remarked on the amount of new grain bins farmers were purchasing (Prairie Arms Race) so they could store their crops for longer periods and ‘pool’ their returns by choosing when to give up ownership to one of the ABCD group’s agents.  This need for grain storage is another cost for farmers from Ritz and Harper killing the Canadian Wheat Board.  It...

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Shortest day of the year

(December 21, 2016)  Today is the shortest day of the year and as is traditional on the winter solstice farmers will be looking forward to longer days and spring planting.  Most will celebrate the season with family and friends. Unlike the sun which we can expect to stop hovering close to the horizon, the port price of wheat has been stubbornly flat for most of the season according to Ag...

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Railways want farmers to put the free in their enterprise – again

(November 26, 2016)  The latest news is the railways want somebody, anybody, to give them new grain hopper cars.  Prairie farmers with unimpaired memories may be forgiven for having a sense of been there, done that. In recent days Cargill has been touring some western farmers around its Vancouver terminal.  They’ve been fed a steady drip of anxiety about how old the hopper car fleet is and...

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PM acts on bad advice about canola

(September 5, 2016)  How would you feel if you bought a thousand grams of rice to feed your family and found 25 grams of the bag made up of weed seeds, stems and chaff?  What if you complained to the retailer and the leader of China flew in to say your demand for a clean product to feed your family could wait for further discussion?  What if the retailer told you that you were scientifically...

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