Please welcome Rachel Brighton, editor (Spring 2015)

    After 25 years, isn’t it time Atlantic Canada’s only magazine published exclusively in support of the region’s beef (and more recently sheep) farmers had a new editor? 
    I think so, which is why it is a great pleasure to introduce readers of this magazine to journalist Rachel Brighton, a native of Australia where sheep outnumber people three to one. We are fortunate to have a professional journalist of Brighton’s caliber taking on this important role. She will be working primarily from her home in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, in the Annapolis Valley.
    In 2013 we broadened the scope of Atlantic Beef to include sheep. Sean Firth, who has contributed to Atlantic Beef from the start, or darned near, was the one who put that idea forward, and a good one it was. 
    In her work as a reporter, editor, publisher, and freelance writer in Canada and Australia over the past two decades, Brighton has paid particular attention to economic development and rural life. From 2007 to 2011, she was founding publisher and editor of an independent policy magazine covering Nova Scotia and neighboring provinces.
    Currently, Rachel is a freelance business columnist with The Chronicle Herald in Halifax, and a valued contributor to Atlantic Forestry, another title that, along with Atlantic Horse & Pony and Rural Delivery, rounds out the family of print titles from DvL Publishing Inc. 
    “My favorite place as a child was a sheep farm and I began my career as a journalist on a rural paper in a cattle-grazing district of Australia,” Brighton said. “So it’s a full circle for me – but with a steep learning curve.”
    With the beef industry rebounding from the dark days of BSE, and pending acceptance of the Brookside abattoir as a federal plant for sheep, the timing is perfect. The farming community needs the support of top-notch communicators like Brighton telling its good stories, informing politicians and bureaucrats, and generally helping keep the farm family together – and help it grow! The potential, we know, is truly great. DvL

Old cows, new friends, and ingenuity
    Thank you for the welcome Dirk. In turn, I would like to welcome to the fold the New Brunswick Sheep Breeders Association and the Prince Edward Island Sheep Breeders’ Association. From now on they will be sharing their news and views in regular reports in this magazine, along with other beef and sheep producer groups across the Maritimes. Jocelyne McGraw and Claude E. Gallant, respectively, have filed the first reports on behalf of their associations. You will find their inaugural reports on pages 41 and 42.  

Oldest cow contest
    Barb McLaughlin, of McKay Siding near Stewiacke in Nova Scotia, is known to many readers. McLaughlin serves on the executive of the Maritime Limousin Association and has been raising Limousin for more than three decades. She says her herd of seven cows is the “smallest in Nova Scotia.” The oldest of these will be 18 this year, which made McLaughlin wonder about other old cows and led her to pitch an idea that Atlantic Beef & Sheep is delighted to take on. At her suggestion, the magazine is launching the Oldest Producing Beef Cow in Atlantic Canada Contest. As McLaughlin said: “It would be really neat to know some of those old girls that are out there, and just every year, crank out a calf and do their job. They’re the stars.”
    The contest details will be sent to breed associations and beef producer groups in March and will be published in the next issue of the magazine. In the meantime, I invite you to start taking photos of your oldest producing cow – ideally with her last calf by her side. To enter, you will also need old photos of your trusty animal, or perhaps old show reports, or other records that would prove her age. If you have queries, please email me at 

    Many stories and news items in this issue touch on strategy. The one that may be top-of-mind for beef producers is the national beef strategy launched late last year. Other strategies are provincial or local, such as the focus being put on standards by the purebred sheep industry in Nova Scotia (see page 8), or the branding of local beef in southeastern New Brunswick (page 14) and in Pictou County, Nova Scotia (page 7). Or the strategies may be farm-based, such as the new genetics being added to the Brown’s large commercial flock in Nova Scotia (page 28), or they may arise from a love of heritage livestock in all forms; such is the mission of Rare Breeds Canada (see page 38). These diverse strategies show that beef and sheep farmers are relying on their own ingenuity, as well as the markets, to deliver better returns.

… and thanks
    Finally, I would like to thank the magazine staff and freelance writers, copyeditors, and proof readers who are responsible for this 25th-anniversary issue of Atlantic Beef & Sheep and have shown me the ropes.