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The next deadline for The Nib is June 2, 2020

Submission of Information to be Included:  Please send any information you wish to have included in an edition of the Nib to secretarytreasurer@ecfwa.ca. Eligible information includes: Niblets (updates on personal accomplishments of members - ie. new job, marriage, child, etc.), summary of ECFWA affiliated event, job postings, upcoming ECFWA affiliated event, other relevant upcoming professional development opportunities, etc.

The most recent edition of the Nib is printed in its entirety below. 
Past editions are available by clicking on the links.

The Nib -- April 2020
ECFWA - The Nib - April 2020
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The Nib - April 2020

In this edition

Prez says
Upcoming events
The Right Rate webinar
ECFWA photo contest
Betting the farm during COVID-19
Should I get a puppy now?
Membership renewals
Volunteers wanted


Prez says 
Rachel Telford, ECFWA President

The world we live in has drastically changed over the past few months as a result of the spread of COVID-19 into a global pandemic. Agriculture is an essential service – and as journalists and communicators we have a role to play in ensuring information is provided to those within the industry as well as the general public. Many of us are fortunate that we have the ability to continue our work from home (or as freelancers have already been doing it for years). Despite recent news that the spread of the virus appears to be slowing, we still do not know when life will return to ‘normal’ - when will businesses re-open, when will public gatherings resume, and when will we be able to enjoy parks and other public spaces once again?

In this issue of The Nib, two of our ECFWA directors have written about their exeriences with social distancing and the impact COVID-19 has had on their lives. I want to thank them for sharing their stories during this difficult and uncertain time.

The uncertainty has led the ECFWA executive to make some difficult decisions about the activities and events we typically offer to our members. By now, you have likely read the news that the CFWF2020 conference, to be hosted by ECFWA in Windsor this September, has been cancelled. We are grateful to our colleagues in Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada who have agreed to alter the conference schedule so that we may host in 2021. I would like to thank the 2020 conference planning committee for all their hard work over the past year and I know they will do the best they can to transfer plans forward into next year so that we can hold a successful conference.

Our ECFWA AGM will be held online this year on May 12 and I hope you will take the time out of your day to join in the video conference. We understand that many of you are likely getting tired of online meetings, and we hope to keep it as short as possible by sticking to business. However, we will also be presenting the photo contest winners during the AGM – which will hopefully lend some excitement to the event.

We are working to create professional development webinars and other opportunities to connect with the ECFWA membership so that we can continue to provide value as an association. If there is anything you would like to see, please feel free to reach out with your suggestions.

Stay well.

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Upcoming events

We can't gather in-person, but we recognize that professional development and networking continue to be important for ECFWA members. While social distancing restrictions remain in place, we will be planning some virtual activities for our members. 

April 29: ECFWA virtual social
8:30 p.m. via Zoom

Grab a beverage or a snack (or both) and join your fellow ECFWA members for a casual Zoom get-together. There is no agenda -- this is just an opportunity to connect with your farm writing colleagues socially and share what you've been up to and how we are managing and adapting as farm writers during this unprecedented global emergency.

If there is sufficient interest, more virtual socials will be planned. 

RSVP online. The Zoom link will be forwarded to all participants.

9:00 a.m. via Zoom
The business portion of the AGM will be held including the ratification of the slate of directors, review of the 2019 financial statements, and presentation of the 2020 ECFWA Photo Contest winners. 

RSVP online. The Zoom link, agenda and supporting materials will be forwarded to all registrants.

September 23-27, 2021: CFWF Conference, Windsor
Save the date! ECFWA has rescheduled the 2020 conference and will be inviting our colleagues from across the country to join us in Windsor in 2021.

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The Right Rate webinar

Did you miss the webinar featuring Bernard Tobin and Allison Finnamore? 
Would you like to watch it again?

The video is now posted on the members-only section of the ECFWA website. Contact ECFWA secretary Mary Feldskov at secretary-treasurer@ecfwa.ca for the password.

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ECFWA photo contest

The deadline to enter the 2020 ECFWA photo contest has been extended to April 30.

Enter your favourite photos in the categories of People, Places and Things.
Find out more on the ECFWA website.

Thank you to our 2020 photo contest sponsors!

Photo credit: Diana Martin, 2019 winner "things" category

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Betting the farm during COVID-19

Jess Campbell

Farming during a global health crisis is not what I signed up for.
Don’t take this the wrong way. There have been several times over the past few weeks where my husband, Andrew, and I have expressed how thankful we are to be farming at a time like this. Self-isolation is already part of our day during certain times of the year. Plus, the opportunity to keep milking cows and providing safe, healthy food for Canadians - and to have work when so many only wish they did - helps the days go by, almost like normal.
That’s a big almost.
During the first week of the pandemic, our farm family was indirectly exposed to someone who tested positive for - and sadly, later passed away from - the novel coronavirus. Even before test results were available, we went into lockdown with hopes of preventing the worst case scenario: one or all of us getting sick. Because, who can do chores when they can’t breathe?
This meant immediately implementing a myriad of drastic changes on our farm. Andrew and I became solely responsible for milking cows twice daily for 14 days, responsibilities that normally take three or four people.
It meant adding to our already strict disinfecting routine so that no one but the milk truck driver entered the milk house - the main entry to the barn - on pick up days. It meant rerouting veterinarians, AI breeders and various field service reps from entering the barn as usual - not to mention practicing physical distancing when they were present.
Then Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) announced that, due to a drastic decrease in demand from the food service sector, some farms would have to dispose of raw milk. This meant that, literally overnight, hundreds of dairy farmers across the province - ourselves included - were producing milk that had nowhere to go.
Needless to say, Andrew and I found ourselves experiencing high stress - and, if I’m honest, panic - due to a situation we never imagined we would ever face. This wasn’t what we signed up for, after all.
Except - didn’t we?
It’s not as if farmers are unfamiliar with risk. Outside of our for-better-or-for-worse vows, Andrew and I knew that choosing to come home to farm was a huge risk. Although we are (very) thankful and supportive of our supply managed sector, commodity markets are never steady for long. This pandemic has hit dairy hard, yes, but it has hit non-supply managed sectors much harder (think of the cut flower market and all the canceled events like weddings; all those flowers left to die off in the greenhouse or the field). We also have a cash crop operation and knew when we started that the most significant factor in our success or failure with cropping is the weather. What’s more risky than that?!
The last few weeks have been really hard on everybody, no matter what you do for a living. It seems as though we aren’t quite through the thick of it yet and can expect more of the same - or worse - over the coming weeks.
Farming has absolutely been stressful but it has also reinforced my resilience, gratitude and love for what I do. I have my basic needs that I sincerely wish everyone had during this time: food, work and supportive family. I have all of these things because of farming.
So, would I make the same choice I did eight years ago if I knew I’d be farming through a global pandemic?
You bet the farm I would.

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Should I Get a Puppy Now?

Alice Guthrie

Man’s best friend can be extremely comforting to people who are upset with circumstances in their lives. In the current situation, this is very likely more true than normal.  Many people are staying home now, and not voluntarily. A lot of these folks think this would be a great time to get a new puppy, after all, they are at home, and the kids are at home, so it should be a great opportunity to give a new buddy all the time he needs.

STOP and think this through. Were you already planning to add a dog to your family?  How do you expect to socialize and train your new puppy with all public places closed, training halls closed and even vets providing limited services? Where is your new puppy coming from? Borders are closed in many places, and even a long car trip has its drawbacks at this time.  What will happen when you go back to work and your kids go back to school? Will this puppy, who had the whole family there all the time develop separation anxiety or other issues when he is suddenly left alone? What if your financial situation changes radically for the worse – will you be able to commit to keeping that puppy in a downturn or will you ditch it to the nearest shelter along with dozens or hundreds of other new puppies that people thought they needed to get right now? In many ways it does seem like a good time to get a new pup, but only if you think about it and plan accordingly.

My own experience as a breeder brought these questions to mind. I have one litter expected – bred prior to things closing down. A couple of people on my wait list are from the U.S. – very likely those sales will not be completed, unless the border reopens.  Another client has cancelled due to her health issues amid this pandemic. It is impossible to know if others will be able to fulfill their intent to take one of these babies home. We made the decision to not breed our other girl (different breed) and of course the requests for that breed have been coming in thick and fast.

An informal online survey of breeders and pet owners across North America saw 80 per cent of breeders who responded experiencing more calls than usual for puppies – some of them had many more. Canadian responses came from Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia; U.S. responses came from California, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New England (not specified), Washington, Wisconsin and three who failed to state their province or state.  Breeders in Australia and England indicated the same situation there. Breeders across the board are concerned with the above questions; some have lost clients due to the pandemic with people either grabbing a puppy sooner than theirs were ready or cancelling puppy orders altogether. No breeder wants to see their puppies poorly socialized or discarded if people are unable to keep them long term. Many previously planned litters are being postponed due to the uncertainty.
Feedback from pet owners was mixed, with some feeling that it was a good time as the family is home for training and being with the pup, thinking it would be good to keep spirits up, and one person remarking she would especially want an animal friend if living alone ... several expressed concern about the same issues noted above.

The question remains: Should you get a puppy now? If this is a well thought out plan, and you can obtain a planned-for puppy safely, go for it. If instead you are thinking short term and have not considered the decision carefully, please avoid an impulse buy and save yourself, the puppy and its breeder later heartache.

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Time to renew!

Your annual membership is due April 30. 
Renew online by visiting the ECFWA website.

Renewing is easy! You can pay online using a credit card or your Paypal account, or by interac e-transfer. You can also request an invoice from the ECFWA secretary.
Returning members do not need to fill out a membership form -- but if you want to update your contact information, you can do so by clicking on "update subscription preferences" at the bottom of this email.

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Volunteers wanted

Have you ever thought about getting more involved with ECFWA? Enthusiastic volunteers are wanted for the 2020-21 ECFWA board of directors! If you would like more information, please contact ECFWA president, Rachel Telford. Elections will take place at the ECFWA AGM on May 12.

Canada is hosting the 2023 IFAJ Congress in Calgary, Alberta. All CFWF members are invited to join the planning team. For more information, visit the ECFWA website or contact the congress co-chair, Trevor Bacque.

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It's official! I retired on Friday February 14, 2020. It really does seem appropriate that my last working day was also one of the sweetest days of the year, in the year 2020 (the year of perfect vision) LOL I had been working full-time, mostly in agriculture and rural Ontario for the past 42 years! I will continue my communications activities through my volunteer work as the newsletter editor and webmaster with the Ontario Chapter of the International Harvester Collectors' Club.  ~Kathie MacDonald

The Nib is a distribution for members, by members of the Eastern Canada Farm Writers' Association.

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Contact: Mary Feldskov, secretarytreasurer@ecfwa.ca

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