Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

by Paul Bootsma

Farmers need to get their story out to the public. The general public is the farmer’s customer and wants to know what farming is like in this decade. Agriculture, like all businesses, has evolved and changed, and today’s farmers are as likely to use a communication device as a shovel or a pitchfork.

Recently, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released an article called Realities of Agriculture in Canada (See Infograph here: http://ontag.farms.com/profiles/blogs/infograph-realities-of-agricu...) pointing out some misconceptions about agriculture and what is really happening on the farm. THE CFIB argues that the following misconceptions exist:

  • That agriculture is not innovative and modern while the reality is that 51 percent of agri-business owners are adopting new and innovative technologies.
  • The agricultural sector is shrinking when in fact 44 percent of farmers say they plan on expanding in the next three years and 21 percent plan to hire new employees.
  • That farming is unsustainable and potentially environmentally harmful. The reality is that 95 percent of farmers are taking action to protect the environment.
  • That 83 percent of farmers are planning to transfer their business to a family member.  The misconception is that farming is moving towards corporate operations.

Education often begins in the class room. After all, today’s students are tomorrow’s customers, and the ideas children bring home influence their parent’s decision making. The industry needs to continue to work with the educational system to ensure that images of farming are of today’s farmers. What is taught in the classrooms needs to accurately reflect what happens on the farm, which means images with tractors with GPS units, large tillage equipment, soil conservation equipment, and communications devices. And more importantly, there needs to be an explanation of why this equipment is being used to achieve more efficient and sustainable results as a normal part of business in 2014.

Moving forward, it is important that the public know agriculture’s story. In the information age, farmers need to focus on ways to grow consumer’s confidence in the food system, and reassure them that their food is produced in a positive way. Farmers are one of the more trusted and respected professions of society. Farmers need to bring their story out to the public, showing their compassion for the animals they work with and concern for the environment they are part of. They do have a great story to tell, and should be proud in sharing it with the public.

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