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The Sprout: Canada’s food supply is in trouble

Good day and welcome to the Sprout, where it’s National New England Clam Chowder Day. Saturday is National Blonde Brownie Day and Sunday is National Pie Day, so get baking!

Here’s today’s agriculture news.

The Lead 

We start with an update of Canada’s food supply. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants the federal government to pause its new vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, which took effect Jan. 15, to protect the supply chain.

“Common sense tells us that we’re at the peak of supply-chain constraints across North America (and) around the world,” Kenney told reporters in Calgary, adding it’s not the time “to lose potentially thousands of truckers on our roads bringing groceries up from the U.S., and, who knows, maybe rapid-test kits (for COVID-19) as well.” Global News has more.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. confirmed it will impose its own vaccine mandate on cross-border truckers on Saturday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended the policy, saying Canada is “aligned.”

In protest, some truckers are planning a “slow-roll” convoy that leaves B.C. for Ottawa on Sunday. Two other convoys will depart from Enfield, N.S., and Windsor, Ont., on Jan. 27. The National Post has more.

Also from the National Post, food shortages are threatening parts of the country, and some people blame the new vaccine rules for truckers. Staffing shortages and a recent snowstorm are making matters worse in Ontario.

The Globe and Mail also has a story on Canada’s fragile food supply.

In related headlines:

Around Town 

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has a new acting chief of staff, the Hill Times reports.

On Thursday, Bibeau announced the 18 semi-finalists in the Novel Technologies Streams who are competing to find ways to reduce food waste. Real Agriculture reports.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Brown Loaf Bakery in Ottawa on Wednesday to support owner Shanchao Yan after his store was robbed twice this month. CTV News has that story.

In Canada 

Ontario’s chief coroner is investigating after a Jamaican man in his 40s was found dead in an Essex County hotel. The man, whose name hasn’t been released, had been quarantining after testing positive for COVID. He was reportedly double-vaccinated and in good health when he arrived in Canada earlier this month to work as a farm labourer. The Windsor Star reports.

The Western Producer reports on an outbreak of porcine diarrhea in 61 facilities in Manitoba. The diarrhea can kill young piglets but poses no risk to human health.

Also from the Western Producer, crop commissions in Saskatchewan want Ottawa to ensure that future grain contracts are fair to farmers whose crop failures aren’t their fault.

In other drought news, imports of corn from the U.S. to Western Canada increased sharply last year, but drought-stricken cattle feeders say the unpredictable shipments aren’t keeping their animals fed. Real Agriculture has that story.

Since early December, local mechanics in B.C.’s Fraser Valley have been donating their Sundays to travel from farm to flood-stricken farm to help repair damaged equipment. Global News reports.

Internationally 

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says China hasn’t kept up with its agricultural trade commitments, citing a US$13-billion shortfall. Bloomberg reports.

Reuters is reporting that a group of Unilever investors has filed a new resolution asking the company to sell healthier food.

Noteworthy 

The Kicker

An impressive snow sculpture on a Winnipeg lawn has the neighbourhood talking. As CTV News reports, Dumbo the Elephant has added a touch of a magic to the long Winnipeg winter.

That’s it for us this week. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday.

This post was copy-edited after publication.

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