Category Archives: Columns

A Cry for Help: Manitoba Farmers Left Waiting in Limbo

A Cry for Help: Manitoba Farmers Left Waiting in Limbo

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Bruce Stewart - Sunflower Farmer
Farmer Bruce Stewart poses in his sunflower field just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

NEEPAWA, Man. — At the end of last month, 12 municipalities in the Interlake and Parkland regions declared a state of agricultural emergency. After a second dry summer, where rainfalls measured about half of normal, cattle producers are facing feed shortages. The hardest-hit municipalities — Alonsa, Armstrong, Bifrost-Riverton, Coldwell, Ethelbert, Fisher, Grahamdale, Lakeshore, McCreary, Ste. Rose, West Interlake and Woodlands — want to make sure senior levels of government understand the serious situation their residents are facing.

In the Municipality of McCreary, hay yields were a quarter to a fifth of average, and their situation isn’t unique. Not only were hay yields down, but the dry summer meant that many producers ran out of pasture and water, as dugouts and wells dried up.

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Short Term Pain for Safer Manitoba Roads: Jackman-Atkinson

Short Term Pain for Safer Manitoba Roads: Jackman-Atkinson

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Semi Truck

This week, we put out one of my favourite features, our National Trucking Week issue (page 21). The transportation industry is vital to our area, not just because it brings everything rural residents, their farms and businesses needs, but also because it’s a significant local employer.

Each year, we do an update on the industry and this year, the industry has a bit of a hiccup to work through — mandatory entry-level training (MELT).

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Making Sport Safe for All: Jackman-Atkinson

Making Sport Safe for All: Jackman-Atkinson

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Gymnastics

In the wake of the Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics scandal, the United States Congress created the U.S. Centre for SafeSport. The euphemistically named organization investigates allegations of abuse in sport, though mostly, it focuses on the sexual abuse of minors.

The organization isn’t associated with any one sport and is funded by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). While it has faced some criticism (it’s too closely tied to the USOC) it’s underfunded and its caseworkers overworked — it has one important characteristic. It’s independent of any one sports organization.

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Looking Beyond Our Shopping Choices: Jackman-Atkinson

Looking Beyond Our Shopping Choices: Jackman-Atkinson

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Store - Advertising - Sale

A single consumer has little power, but consumers as a collective wield great power. Each day, individuals spend their money and in doing so, face choices. Sometimes, we don’t have much of a choice — if you want to purchase power, you must do so from Manitoba Hydro. But most of the time, we do.

Every day, customers decide which businesses they want to support and often, their decisions are based on a variety of hard factors, such as selection, convenience and price. But customers also make decisions based on their values: does the business support the things I care about? It can be choosing to support a local business because they sponsor or donate to organizations in your community, or it could be because a large company supports something you value, for example, sourcing agricultural products from Canada.

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Concern Misplaced for Manitoba Cattle Producers: Jackman-Atkinson

Concern Misplaced for Manitoba Cattle Producers: Jackman-Atkinson

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Cattle - Cow

Government funding that could have been a win-win, for Manitoba farmers and the environment, won’t have nearly the impact it could have had.

Program details show that close to half of the province’s farmers have been shut out of funding for the establishment of cover crops, as funding aimed to help them undertake this beneficial management practice have explicitly shut out cattle producers. Of the province’s 15,000 farms, 6,500 have cattle and the Province is worried the funding could be used as a feed subsidy.

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Meaty Topic: What the Rise in ‘Beyond Meat’ Means for Canadian Farmers

Meaty Topic: What the Rise in ‘Beyond Meat’ Means for Canadian Farmers

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Beef Burger

In North America, Beyond Meat and other plant-based protein products are getting all of the publicity, as the shiny new option in a sea of changing diets. The fact remains that livestock production is an important part of the Canadian economy, accounting for just under half of Canadian farms. Should livestock producers be worried? To answer requires looking at the larger picture — beyond the domestic market.

According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture, Canada was home to about 36,000 beef cattle operations, 10,000 dairy farms, 2,000 chicken egg products farms, 2,100 meat-type chicken operations, 3,300 hog farms and 3,000 sheep and goat farms, out of a total of 193,000 farms.

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Perception and Reality in Today’s Political Climate: Jackman-Atkinson

Perception and Reality in Today’s Political Climate: Jackman-Atkinson

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Justin Trudeau - Donald Trump
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, June 20, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

As a middle of the road Canadian, I look at the political landscape and I’m concerned. Mostly, I’m concerned about the growing divisiveness I see elsewhere in the world and its creep into Canadian politics.

Canadians consume a lot of culture from outside our borders and we’re inundated with the current political climate in both America and Britain. Things aren’t quite so bad here and I always thought it was a function of our three-party system forcing parties to remember their centres. But I’m also seeing more memes, more instances where political opponents are being cast as a threat to democracy and less debate about actual policies. I can’t help but wonder, is it just that we’re slower to pick up on trends?

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Off to Work? Holiday Retail Closures Missing the Mark

Off to Work? Holiday Retail Closures Missing the Mark

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Editor, myWestman.ca

Store Open Sign

On any statutory holiday, at any time of the day or night, I can make a few taps on my phone and buy just about anything I want. Unfortunately, I can’t do the same in person. The reason isn’t economics or the availability of staff, and it isn’t the case across the board. The reason is a jumbled mess of provincial regulations that guide which types of business can be open on holidays and which can’t.

Like the original legislation that restricted Sunday shopping, mandatory holiday closures are well-intentioned — to ensure that workers can enjoy a day of rest. Except that times have changed and exceptions were made. Some make sense, some don’t. For example, allowing restaurants, pharmacies, laundromats, boat and motor vehicle rental, repair and service shops and gas stations to open means that fewer people will find themselves stranded.

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What You Know, and What You Don’t: Jackman-Atkinson

What You Know, and What You Don’t: Jackman-Atkinson

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Neepawa Banner & Press

Newspaper - Computer

In a world that’s increasingly fragmented and siloed, we need newspapers. Or at least the service they provide — a place to get a variety of news and advertising. Today, you can find out anything about anything. But what if you don’t know what you’re looking for? Or that you’re even looking for something?

This is the important role newspapers and other general interest news sources offer, be it a paper, a local newsletter, dedicated news sites, radio or the signboard at the post office. The algorithms that drive advertising on Facebook and Google are only informed by past browsing history, they can’t look into the subconscious or the future. Have you recently searched for hotel rooms in Regina? All of a sudden, you will be bombarded with ads for hotels and motels and maybe the occasional rental car too. But what about if you don’t know that you want to go to Regina for the weekend? What if you haven’t even considered taking a little holiday because you’re busy with your life and will feel regret when summer is over and you didn’t getaway? The algorithms can’t help with that.

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Missed Connection: Rural Canadians Still Waiting for Adequate Internet Speeds

Missed Connection: Rural Canadians Still Waiting for Adequate Internet Speeds

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, Editor, myWestman.ca

Internet - Laptop

NEEPAWA, Man. — If you ask rural Canadians about the biggest thing holding their communities back, directly or indirectly, it almost always comes down to technology. In rural Canada, the unlimited, cheap, broadband internet and five bars of cell service urban Canadians take for granted is some combination of non-existent or expensive.

The role of connectivity is vital. It goes beyond the obvious and communities without it are at a distinct disadvantage. Almost every business is driven by information, it’s almost impossible to attract businesses to a community where accessing the broader world of customers and suppliers isn’t easy to do. It’s important for education, not just in the formal sense, but it also allows farmers and small business owners to find out about what’s going on beyond the community and how it might help their business— whether it’s market reports, news or researching new products or services. It’s a key component of the next wave of precision agriculture. High-speed internet is a crucial part of residents’ lifestyle and recreational needs.

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