Ending our “two solitudes” through innovation and precision agriculture
Montréal, September 23, 2019 – La Coop fédérée and its agricultural division, Sollio Agriculture, took advantage of their participation in consultations held by the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources of the National Assembly to come to the defence of Québec’s farming families and reiterate that they are sensitive to the public’s concerns about their food.
“The two solitudes of Québec society, rural and urban, depend on one another,” said Sébastien Léveillé, Executive Vice-President of La Coop fédérée and Chief Executive Officer of Sollio Agriculture. “But they don’t really know each other. This debate is an opportunity to raise awareness about modern agriculture and promote the work of farming families.”
Innovating since 1922
La Coop fédérée has been in innovation mode ever since it was founded. Its actions demonstrate that it is possible to produce more with fewer pesticides. Today, Sollio Agriculture’s agriculture platform, launched in 2017, serves over 11,000 connected farms. It is a diagnostic tool used to assess soil health and comprehensively collect fertilization and crop protection data. It has made possible precision agriculture, which enables the right product to be applied at the right time, in the right amount and at the right place.
In their brief, La Coop fédérée and Sollio Agriculture propose measures to allow Québec agriculture to meet the demands of consumers:
1. Ensure respect of riparian and sensitive areas in fields: Many farmers continue to farm these areas, though this practice has proven negative impacts.
2. Advance precision agriculture: Technologies are making it increasingly possible to collect data on crop protection product use. However, new agricultural practices are slow to take hold on the ground.
3. Facilitate precision application: To apply what is needed when it is needed, farmers require costly equipment that enables localized product application.
4. Promote custom spraying: Audits are facilitated when retailers perform spraying; however, 49% of Québec farmers prefer to spread pesticides themselves.
5. Audit crop protection product and fertilizer retailers: the key to compliance lies in on-file agronomic recommendations that provide for cross-checking.
Agronomists active in distribution networks: A strong link
“Because La Coop fédérée is a cooperative, it belongs to farmers and acts on behalf of its members,” said Gaétan Desroches, Chief Executive Officer of La Coop fédérée. “The agronomists we employ in our network are required to follow their order’s code of ethics. For us, that’s non-negotiable.”
Agronomists have a responsibility to make the best agronomical recommendation for a given situation, whether that means applying an organic or inorganic product, intervening mechanically, using a technological solution, or doing nothing at all. It is crucial to respect the profession and avoid creating two categories of agronomists.
Agronomists who work with distributors are a conduit for knowledge transmission to farmers, as they leverage our research and manufacturers’ innovations on a daily basis and are familiar with their customers’ realities. Thanks to them, pesticide alternatives are making their way onto farms.
Pesticides: Promoting plant health
“Sollio Agriculture has access to most traditional and organic products, as well as technological crop treatment solutions,” explained Mr. Léveillé. Sollio Agriculture knows that farmers work hard to make their farms sustainable, as they wish to pass their land down to their children one day. “We don’t know of any farmers who would needlessly spend money on an agricultural input,” Mr. Léveillé added.
“Consumers are the ones who decide; they vote with their wallets,” he concluded. “The challenge is to farm at a competitive cost because, otherwise, people will turn to food produced elsewhere, where we have no control over the crop protection products used.”
About La Coop fédérée
Founded in 1922, La Coop fédérée is the largest agri-food company in Québec, the only Canada-wide agricultural cooperative and the 24th-largest agri-food cooperative in the world. It represents more than 120,000 members, farmers and consumers in nearly 60 cooperatives in several Canadian provinces. It employs more than 14,000 people and has sales totalling $6.5 billion. Including its affiliated cooperatives, La Coop fédérée boasts nearly 19,000 employees and combined sales of $9.5 billion. Its activities are divided into three divisions: Olymel L.P., Sollio Agriculture and Groupe BMR Inc.
About Sollio Agriculture
Sollio Agriculture, the Agri-business Division of La Coop fédérée, is a Canadian leader in the agriculture industry. It specializes in the merchandising of farm inputs and value-added agronomic services. It benefits from a synergy between three sectors: livestock production, crop production and grains. Present in almost every part of Canada, it has close to 1,100 employees and made $2.125 billion in sales in 2018 in Canada and abroad. For more information about Sollio Agriculture, visit sollio.ag.
To view a summary of the brief presented by La Coop fédérée and Sollio Agriculture (in French), go to http://bit.ly/2l33C8V.
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