Terry Stevenson’s Agricultural Weblog

A blog about news and events occuring in Canadian agriculture

Archive for July 2009

Farms and Antibiotics

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An editorial in the July 24, 2009 edition of the New York Times called, “Farms and Antibiotics” strongly advocates that the way farm animals receive drugs is putting both humans and animals at risk. It suggests that because drugs are so popular within our industrialized agriculture system, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases are more likely to develop, thus rendering other drugs such as penicillin and tetracycline less effective.

 They say that restricting drug use for industrial farms would help prevent inhumane overcrowding and unhealthy conditions for the animals. The conclusion they draw is that the Federal Drug Administration should severely restrict the regular use of drugs and supplements in agriculture and allow only veterinarians to prescribe specific antibiotics to individual animals for the prevention or treatment of diseases.

 This would seem to be a very narrow view of a very large and complex issue. To start with it suggests that farmers are only interested in profits at the expense of their animals with no real serious regard for their living conditions or overall health. I’m sure across the United States and even in Canada examples can be found of some unscrupulous operators running a “factory farm” with inhumane living conditions and the unrestricted use of drugs to maximize their profits. No one would disagree that these farm operators should be dealt with and immediate corrective measures taken.

 The truth is that the overwhelming majority of these so called “industrial or factory farms” in the United Sates and Canada are very professionally run by highly ethical and responsible farmers who care deeply about their animals. They follow very strict governmental guidelines and industry standards helping to ensure that consumers receive only the very best quality and safe food for their families. Farmers provide their animals with supplements and antibiotics to help provide a healthy environment and maximize their growing potential. For the most part this all done responsibly by farmers who take great pride and care of the animals that they raise in their farming operations

 No one would argue that the correct application of any supplement or antibiotic needs to be carefully monitored not only for the health of the animals but also the safety of our food for human consumption. By all means clamp down on farm operations that ignore the rules and regulations that are currently in place for overcrowding, including excessive application of supplements and antibiotics for animals.

  Let’s remember though, that in Canada and the United States we produce some of the safest and highest quality food found anywhere in the world. This is in part because the vast majority of farmers take enormous pride in their farming operations and believe in providing the highest standards in raising their animals. Let’s not tarnish the whole farming industry in an editorial.


Written by terrystevenson

July 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Crop scouting

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In some ways it seems hard to believe that summer has actually arrived. The weather for the most part has been cool and wet in southwestern Ontario. Wheat crops are roughly a week or so away from being harvested with corn and soybean fields growing very well for the most part. 

For farmers there is no time off and one of the most important areas of concern for their corn and soybeans is “crop scouting.” Insect infestation and a wide range of plant diseases’ can devastate these crops if not caught in time and appropriate action taken. 

Crop scouting is an integral part of ensuring healthy corn and soybean plants reach full maturity, maximizing their yield potential for farmers. It is not unusual while crop scouting for a farmer to discover a weed, disease or insect which is not easily identifiable and until this is done they cannot even begin to establish a corrective course of action to eliminate the particular problem. 

Some farmers depend on outside help in scouting their fields such as an AGRIS Co-operative or Wanstead Farmers Co-operative crop specialist to assist them walking their fields looking for potential problems. Even then, they can run across a situation that requires the expertise of a professional and in southwestern Ontario our co-operatives work closely with the experts at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus

Leading industry staff at the Ridgetown Campus like Albert Tenuta, Tracey Baute, Horst Bohner, Mike Cowbrough, Peter Johnson and Greg Stewart to name just a few, help provide a wealth of experience and research knowledge for farmers finding solutions to their crop problems. The Ridgetown Campus is again holding a very successful and well respected “Crop Diagnostic Days” on July 8th and 9th, 2009 where farmers and agricultural industry personnel can receive, as detailed on their website, “state-of-the-art training in all aspects of crop production and management.”

 Another welcome development for the agriculture industry has been a new blog to hit the internet this spring. It has been an instant hit and is called “Baute Bug Blog.com.” Tracey Baute from the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus is a field crop entomologist for the Ontario Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs. Tracey’s blog keeps everyone up to date with the latest in insect problems being identified in fields and possible solutions to deal with the infestations.  

So while farmers walk their corn and soybean fields this summer scouting for potential problems it is very reassuring for them to know that they can rely on the crop experts from the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus to assist them in identifying field problems and providing solutions to help them maximize their crop yields.

Written by terrystevenson

July 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized