‘It really is a win-win’: New Ecolabel launched promoting winter wheat growers

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. –

The new ‘Habitat-Friendly Winter Wheat Ecolabel Program’ is designed to highlight winter wheat production and its sustainability benefits.

The program was launched by Cereals Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Prairie Winter Wheat Growers and end users to help products containing at least 30 per cent winter wheat to stand out while providing critical habitats for ducks, birds and other wildlife.

“It’s all about communicating the benefits of winter wheat that’s grown on the Canadian prairies and helping consumers identify products that are made using habitat-friendly winter wheat,” said Cereals Canada’s director of market access and trade policy, Daniel Ramage.

“It really is a win-win.”

Winter wheat is planted in September and uses the moisture from the fall and winter snowfalls to start growing as soon as the first thaw.

Planting this way leaves the ground undisturbed once water fowl and other birds migrate north, making an ideal spot to nest.

Gary Stanford is a winter wheat farmer just out side of Magrath, Alberta, as well as the delegate for the Alberta Wheat Commission, and says that birds have been nesting in his winter wheat as long as he can remember.

“It’s important to keep the populations up and to have good nesting grounds and even more important that there’s farmers that do grow winter wheat for this reason,” Stanford told CTV News.

According to Stanford, farming winter wheat has run in his family for over a century and he knows the environmental benefits first-hand.

“We want to get the message out to urban people that farmers are sustainable and that this is such a great opportunity to have a new market for winter wheat and sustainability,” he said.

“Winter wheat improves the quality of my land by preventing soil erosion from high winds and increases organic matter for future rotations.”

Winter wheat

The program will see products found in stores bearing the ecolabel, informing consumers that what they’re buying is not only Canadian produced, but benefits farmers, wildlife and the environment.

“To learn about positive things that are already happening in Canadian agriculture, and to be able to tell that story, is something that people are really excited about,” said Ramage.

With some items already sporting the new ecolabel, like Northern Keep Vodka from Alberta Distillers just out side Calgary, those involved say they hope more producers will jump on the winter wheat train.

To find out more information on the Habitat-Friendly Winter Wheat Ecolabel Program, or to become involved yourself, you can visit their website.

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