Celebrating Canadian ag on Canada’s Ag Day

Celebrating Canadian ag on Canada’s Ag Day
Feb 13, 2024

Canada is the world leader in canola production

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Farmers and members of Canada’s agricultural community are taking to social media on Feb. 13 to celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day (#CdnAgDay).

Agriculture More Than Ever launched the event in 2017 to recognize the work farmers and the rest of the agri-food sector put in to producing healthy, nutritious and sustainable foods for families in Canada and around the world.

“On #CdnAgDay we come together to celebrate Canadian food and those who produce it!” the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said on its X account. “Farmers across Canada are proud to provide safe, nutritious and affordable food to Canadians.”

And Canadians have a lot to be proud of when it comes to agriculture and its history.

Take canola, for example.

In the 1970s, Canadian researchers Keith Downey and Baldur Stefansson bred canola from two rapeseed cultivars (B. napus from Argentina and B. rapa from Poland) at the University of Manitoba after identifying a need for a locally grown, healthy cooking oil.

The word “canola” comes from the first three letters of Canada, with the o, l, and a standing for “oil, low, acid.”

The first variety, Tower, was released in 1974.

“The low glucosinolate content of “TOWER” represents a very significant improvement in the quality of rapeseed meal as a feed protein supplement,” the Rapeseed Digest said in March 1974.

At the time, J.J. Banfield, the president of the Rapeseed Association of Canada, estimated Canada could use 150 million bushels by 1978 for domestic and foreign buyers.

For context, in 2023, Canadian farmers produced about 80 million bushels of canola.

Since the 1970s, Canada has become the global leader in canola production.

Canadian farmers produce about 20 million tonnes of canola each year, or about 25 per cent of the world’s canola supply.

In addition, the canola industry supports more than 200,000 jobs.

A Canadian agriculturalist also developed a wheat variety.

In 1904, Charles Saunders crossed Red Fife and Hard Red Calcutta to create Marquis wheat.

By 1918, 20 million acres of Marquis were planted between Nebraska and Saskatchewan.

“Marquis had all of the qualities of the best wheat varieties: it had a high yield, impressive baking potential, and ripened about two weeks earlier, perfect for the new farmlands of the Prairies,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says. “But most importantly, because Charles had followed the laws of inheritance, the plants consistently grew with the same hardy qualities year after year.”

Canadian researchers created some apples too.

In 1926, Richard Claxton (R.C.) Palmer, working at what’s now the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, B.C., crossed McIntosh and Grimes Golden to create the Jubilee apple.

“The flavour is sweet, like its McIntosh parent it is crispy only while just picked. Skin is flushed red over greenish yellow,” an industry website says.

Ten years later, Palmer developed another type of apple.

He crossed a McIntosh with another unknown type of apple to create the Spartan.

Spartan is considered a good all-purpose apple. It has a bright-red blush and can have background patches of greens and yellows.

The egg cartons at the grocery store? Invented by a Canadian.

In 1911, a B.C. newspaper editor named Joseph Coyle invented the egg carton to settle a dispute between a local farmer named Gabriel LaCroix and a hotel owner over the farmer’s eggs being broken upon delivery.

Coyle first produced them by hand using newspaper, but when demand increased, he invented a machine to mass produce the cartons.

Canadian farmers have also been on the cutting edge of technological advancements.

In 2021, for example, Vincent Pawluski, a farmer and millwright from Grande Prairie, Alta., won an innovation award at Canada’s Farm Show for the RCFarmArm, which allows farmers to control their tractors from outside of the cab.

The device lets farmers start and stop a tractor’s engine, control the PTO and operate other hydraulic functions, CBC reported.

Other Canadian ag and food innovations include:

  • Lacombe pigs
  • Canadienne cattle
  • Peanut butter
  • Hawaiian pizza
  • Caesars

Here are some recent stats about Canadian agriculture.

  • Canada had 189,874 farms in 2021.
  • Canadian farmers work on 153,687,771 acres of land (that’s larger than the country of South Sudan).
  • Canadian producers grew crops on 93,595,208 acres.
  • Canadian ag provides one in every nine jobs.
  • Canadian ag generated $143.8 billion, or about 7 per cent of Canada’s GDP in 2022.

Members of the Canadian ag sector make their mark away from the farm too.

  • Mary Robinson, a P.E.I. farmer and former Canadian Federation of Agriculture president, is one of Canada’s newest senators in Ottawa.
  • Lawrence MacAulay, another P.E.I. farmer, is Canada’s federal minister of agriculture.
  • Lesley Kelley and Kim Keller, two Saskatchewan farmers, helped co-found Do More Ag.
  • In 2022, Maddison Pearman, who grew up on her family’s Alberta farm, represented Canada at the Beijing Winter Olympics in speedskating.
  • At those same Olympics, Ella Shelton, who grew up on her family’s farm in Ingersoll, Ont., won a gold medal with the women’s hockey team.
  • Also in the 2022 games, Kristen Bujnowski, from her family’s tobacco and ginseng farm in Mount Brydges, Ont., wore the maple leaf in bobsleigh.
  • Egg Farmers of Canada has been involved with Project Canaan in Eswatini for about a decade. This initiative includes a 2,500-acre orphanage and an egg farm.

Here’s what others are saying on #CdnAgDay.

“Today is Canada’s Agricultural Day!” the Alberta Motor Transport Association said on X. “We want to celebrate the people at the heart of the agriculture industry in our province who haul our livestock, food and produce, and equipment.”

“On #CdnAgDay we're not just marking a date; we're celebrating our identity,” Horizon Seeds Canada posted on social media. “Proud to be part of an industry that epitomizes innovation, strength, and resilience.”

“Happy Canada’s Ag Day to all the hardworking farmers and agri-professionals across Canada!” Decisive Farming by TELUS Agriculture posted. “Today, we celebrate the hard work, innovation, and dedication that goes into feeding our nation and the world. Raise your forks to celebrate #CdnAgDay!”

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