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Farmers urged to create their destinies

Farmers urged to create their destinies

Consumers are asking retailers for sustainable products

By Denise Faguy

Deborah Wilson, the chief industry engagement officer for TrustBIX – Deborah Wilson, is on a mission. She wants Canadian farmers to create their own destinies.

Wilson advanced this call to action during her presentation “Accelerating trust in a sustainable future for agriculture” at the Precision Agriculture Conference and Trade Show in Calgary, Alta, on Nov. 26. 

The Canadian ag industry is responsible for only 9 per cent of greenhouse gases (GHGs), she said. Erroneous calculations included as part of “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report published in 2006, claimed that livestock was more harmful to the environment than transportation. Although the report was refuted in 2010, the misperception continues in society at large. 

Of the 9 per cent of GHGs from the ag industry, livestock production accounts for 3 to 3.5 per cent of those gases. Cattle are responsible for 2.4 per cent. 

And the cattle sector is committed to reducing emissions, she said.

“Consumers need to learn our story,” urged Wilson. She shared the McDonald’s Canada commercial that features the beef sustainability story.

Retailers want the Canadian ag industry to do more work related to sustainability because consumers are asking for sustainable products, she said. 

Along this vein, Canada is the first country in the world to deliver Certified Sustainable Beef through the supply chain, she said.

Canada needs to bridge the gap between today’s and tomorrow’s emerging technologies and traditional resource-oriented industries, she said. This work is essential in the agri-food industry, which faces one of our world’s most critical problems: as our global population grows, the amount of food, land and water available becomes more constrained.

To move ahead, agri-food companies need to increase their productivity and efficiency by applying new technology solutions, including artificial intelligence, automation and blockchain, Wilson said. 

Producers have faced difficulties working directly with researchers and tech companies, which has limited the adoption of new techniques and technologies, she said. But the ag industry must shape emerging technologies into real tools that can be applied to farming and food production, she added.

Deborah Wilson photo

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