Editor’s Note: Farmers to the rescue

Tom Button

Canada is hungry for heroes. Statues are tumbling, poverty is intractable, our country is more racist than we knew, politicians falter. Who can lead us to the Canada we dream of? 

You can tell what people value because values are motivators. They show in what we pursue. 

Do farmers value Canada? 

There’s a better way of asking this. Should Canadians feel farmers are helping them build the future they want? 

Let's stop being philosophic and vague. It defies our own values.

At Country Guide, our goal is for every page to be real, to talk about smart decision-making, to have a possible use. 

So what’s the “use” of talking about farmers as heroes? 

Because there’s so much to learn from the science of corporate citizenship. 

Through countless generations, farmers have supported their neighbours and, to varying extents, their communities. It’s deep in the bones of farming, and it’s still there today, often in an expanded way due to the new era of larger, more sophisticated farms. 

In part, each of these farms has expanded its role because there just aren’t as many farms left. But it still comes back to values. Local support is as honestly in today’s genes as ever it was in their parents.’ 

In this one way, though, I’m not at all sure farms have grown as sophisticated as they have big. 

Let’s compare farming’s corporate citizenship against the citizenship of forward-looking corporations. 

Most such corporations have citizenship strategies. They research what’s important to their staffs, their customers and to their communities. 

It doesn’t mean they spend more. It means they spend more strategically and precisely. 

An increasing number of companies also give their employees a limited number of days off to work on internal or outside charitable campaigns. 

Imagine the satisfaction employees and family members would get knowing that, by working for your farm, they are able to lead fuller lives, contributing to others’ needs. 

The same goes nationally too. Imagine the impact if Torontonians, who may hear occasionally now that farm groups help food banks, were to hear in a big way that farmers are bringing their traditional farm values to some of the toughest challenges those Torontonians worry about. We’ve suggested in this space before that farmers could launch a national campaign for better availablility of nutritious foods in remote First Nations communities, or they could use their own knowledge of the land and its sustainability as a platform to talk about and show leadership on wildlife or wildland conservation and climate change. 

The opportunities are as big as your dreams, so be strategic. Make it real, make it measurable, and contribute to a stronger, more vibrant and resilient agriculture in a Canada we are all proud to live in. 

Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected]

About the author

Editor

Tom Button

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

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