Thursday, 4 October 2012

Changing agriculture’s image

Saskatchewan has become the first province to sign on to Farm Credit Canada’s new initiative to raise the profile of agriculture in this country.

Greg Stewart, president and CEO of the federal Crown corporation, said “not all Canadians are hearing the true story of agriculture; we intend to change that by telling the facts and getting the real story out”.

Thirty-five Canadian agriculture groups, ranging from 4-H to the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, have already signed on to help, and Stewart is looking for others.

Making the case for the initiative, called “Agriculture More Than Ever,” Stewart said the agriculture sector and the businesses around it employ one of every eight Canadian workers and contribute about $130 billion annually to the national economy. Yet Canadians too often “see pictures of outdated 1930s and ’40s equipment that just doesn’t portray producers as they are today,” he told reporters after the signing ceremony in the Legislative Building.

“The technology involved is unbelievable. With what’s going on out there, I just don’t think people really understand the sophistication and the skills and the talent of all the people who we have in the agricultural industry — and how broad the industry is and how many opportunities there are.”

With global population growing rapidly and needing food, Canada “is one of the handful of countries that will fill that need”.

Signing for the province was Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart who noted a high demand for well-trained graduates and entrepreneurs to work in agriculture.

The minister rattled off a long list of superlatives around agriculture in Saskatchewan, which just pulled past Ontario as the largest farm-export province and leads the country in exporting canary seed, lentils, canola meal and oil, oats, flax seed and rye.

Want an example of how attitudes can change?

How about the MC for Thursday’s ceremony, Cherilyn Nagel, who came home and became a self-described “farm policy wonk” and president of the Western Canada Wheat Growers.

But in high school, she was preoccupied by the next dance contest in her hometown of Mossbank until she began dating a guy — a young farmer — who’s now her husband.

Over the years, she noticed that news coverage of agriculture focused on the rising age of farmers and low prices for what they grew.

But times changed and she soon found herself “talking about what an awesome industry this was.”

Now the mother of two girls, she promised to “teach my daughters that ‘princesses’ too, can drive tractors.”
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Original Article Here

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