Obviously, you don’t have to get very far away from the farm to lose sight of the fact that the real energy that’s driving agriculture isn’t some GMO breakthrough, or some new chemical innovation or even some amazingly brilliant bit of electronic engineering.
Nor is it the price of grain, or the value of the Canadian dollar, or even the negotiation of new trade deals.
Those are all important, of course. But in agriculture we need to keep insisting that the real driver is the individual farmer, putting everything on the line and making decisions one critical decision at a time.
Anyone who reads Country Guide should know the reality of this, or at least they should know how strongly we believe it.
Next, let’s look at the evolution of agriculture over the last 10 or 15 years and ask some pointed questions.
What has changed? Certainly a lot. Who among us could have predicted the transformation in farm equipment in the past decade, or that phone apps would put so many more capabilities within such easy reach?
But farmers have changed too. With no disrespect to previous generations, we can’t help but note that today’s farmers are operating at a different level of sophistication.
Farmers have always been smart. Many have also been shrewd, but it’s a simple fact that there has been a seat change in the professionalization of agriculture.
Again, this will not be news to readers of Country Guide. When I compare the stories we bring you today versus the stories I worked on earlier in my career, it’s night and day.
Higher net worths are partly responsible for putting more farmers in front of accountants rather than bookkeepers, which means the advice that farmers are getting has scaled up. But accountants aren’t making the decisions. Farmers are.
It’s still the farmers who know the values that are important to them, and who are finding ways to put those values into practice.
Really, this trend only highlights how capable farmers are of using complex information to take control of the sustainability, productivity and profitability of their farms.
While so much else has changed, though, the contribution governments make to the information flow to farmers is scant to the point of irresponsibility.
Governments should provide useful sectoral analyses, they should fund more farmer-focused economic research at our ag universities, they should provide analyses that help farmers make their most important decisions.
But look how your organizations spend their own research budgets. Are they all directed at the field and barn, or is any of it directed at the farmer who must make those field and barn decisions?
Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].