Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan was pleased to welcome more than 400 registrants to their online Cultivating Trust conference on November 25. The annual event usually brings people together from across the food system, from crops and livestock to horticulture and poultry production, as well as large and small scale farms, agribusinesses, dietitians, food companies, researchers and government. This year, even more people attended from as far afield as Japan, Turkey and Australia.
“We were gratified to see such a fantastic response,” said Clinton Monchuk, Executive Director of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan. “The theme of managing misinformation within food and agriculture really seemed to resonate with people, especially when we are being constantly inundated with confusing and often contradictory information.”
Timothy Caulfield, professor at the University of Alberta and author of Relax, Dammit! A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety, spoke about the coronavirus as not just a pandemic, but an ‘infodemic’. “The spread of misinformation has become one of the single biggest issues of our time,” he said. “We need to push back against the bunk because it leads to confusion, it leads to fear; it leads to anxiety. And that matters. Farmers have so many great stories that can help people talk about the good science.”
Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor and air quality specialist at the University of California at Davis, made a presentation which outlined how methane is being measured in the atmosphere and postulated that livestock may actually be part of the solution to the problem of global warming. “Methane, unlike CO2, does not continuously accumulate in the atmosphere. A consistent cattle herd does not add new methane to the atmosphere.” Mitloehner pointed out that without ruminant livestock, humans would not be able to utilize two thirds of all the agricultural land on earth.
Monchuk, who hosted discussion sessions after both presentations, said that question period is one of the best parts of the conference. “We had tons of questions that really kept our presenters on their toes. Our audience was incredibly engaged, not only with our speakers, but also with other attendees at the event.”
The 2020 Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan Champion Award was also presented during the conference. This year’s winner is Tiffany Martinka, a grain and broiler chicken farmer from northeast Saskatchewan. She is an industry spokesperson at both the national and provincial levels and has a strong presence on social media. “We have such a good news story to tell in agriculture,” Martinka said in accepting the award.
Recordings of the conference presentations will be available to those who registered for the next 10 days through the conference app.
FFC SK would like thank their conference sponsors: Grain Millers, Canada Beef, Ag-West Bio, Farm Credit Canada, Federated Co-operatives Limited, the Livestock & Forage Centre of Excellence, and Star Egg Company.