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Editor’s Note: Something changed exactly a decade ago

It was 10 years ago this month that a small group of us met in Winnipeg to start talking about how we would transform Country Guide into a business journal for farmers.

Or, more accurately, it was 10 years ago this month that we got serious about whether it might make sense to even try such a thing.

The answer wasn’t at all obvious.

When we got asked, “Will anyone read you?” (which, naturally, was the question that had to be asked) we couldn’t really say anything more intelligent than, “Of course.”

Actually, we said “Of course!” with an exclamation mark, hoping that if we sounded confident, we’d convince ourselves as well.

We would also proclaim that in 10 years, farmers were sure to be more business focused than ever.

“How do you know?” we’d get asked, followed by “And what does that mean exactly?”

Again, we had intuition on our side, but few real facts.

The truth is, none of us can say we ever predicted the stunning increase in business acumen among farmers today.

Farmers have always been shrewd. There’s no question about that, or about the fact that this kind of shrewdness is still vital on the farm.

But now farmers have become sophisticated in ways we couldn’t really imagine a decade ago, even though we were looking for signs that it was about to happen.

Nor, for that matter, could we have predicted the impressive health and stability of today’s mid-sized farms. Instead, like everyone else, we thought the our mid-size sector was where we’d see the most violent changes.

Most important of all, we didn’t foresee how this new financial literacy and business sophistication would be so equally distributed across farm sizes and across so many farm sectors.

Nor were we alone. Government policy was entirely based on the idea that farmers would have to have their hands held any time someone opened a set of books.

In short, we thought we could talk about business, but we didn’t foresee 10 years ago that we’d write the issue that you have in your hands today, or cover the stories and topics we’ve been covering all winter.

We couldn’t even guess.

And this in turn makes us ask whether what we write 10 years from now will be as different from today as today is from 10 years ago.

My bet is that it will, and I believe you think so too.

But let’s ask those questions again. “How do you know? And what exactly does that mean?”

Here’s my briefest answer.

You’ve heard me say it before. Farmers are decision makers. You make decisions every year that are bigger than the biggest decisions townsfolk make in their entire lives.

Maybe that’s always been true, but today I see an agriculture focused on the quality of their decisions, on the quality of their advice, and on the quality of their thinking.

As I’ve also said, I wish consumers could see the picture of agriculture I see everyday.

There’s more to day, but do let me know. Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].

About the author


Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.


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