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Editor’s Note: Getting together on a plan for 2021

Tom Button

Agriculture is getting more and more diverse and the gaps between our farms are growing, which is why we need a higher percentage of farmers getting involved in farm organizations.

Here are two questions we almost never ask in our Country Guide interviews. What farm organizations are you involved in? And how much emphasis do you put on participating in them?

It’s time for us to change that.

We should ask other questions too. How much effort do you put into creating an expectation that your children and grandchildren will support industry organizations?

It might seem odd in this COVID-19 year to say that more farmers should go to more farm meetings. Instead, this is just one more example of the pandemic giving us a little extra push to do something that we were feeling a mounting pressure to do anyway.

By and large, agricultural organizations have met the COVID-19 challenge. Yes, there was some grandstanding, and yes, there were some extreme demands, but the risks were real, the future uncertain, and the farm organizations did their work with extraordinary skill and sophistication.

Would the farm have survived COVID-19 without them? Well, it certainly wouldn’t have survived as well.

Clearly, our farm groups showed it’s vital they be at the ready in case of black swans, especially when the risk of black swans seems by every measure to be growing relentlessly.

But what I am thinking about today has more to do with what you might call the routine future of agriculture — the government policies, the market development, the technological and research support that farms need if our agriculture is to thrive in a way that looks at all like today’s industry.

As noted above, and as I suspect all of us have been thinking in the past couple of years, our agriculture is getting more diverse.

To a degree, you can say this is fine, because at the same time, our farms are acquiring the skills, the data and, bluntly, the power to be more independent than ever.

Except, it really is true that agriculture is a community. Maybe our farms aren’t at quite as great a risk of being bullied by powerful banks or multinationals as they used to be, but the opportunities for joint action and for growth are greater than ever.

And they will only be seen by farmers who have the vision and the quick wits that come from life on the front lines.

Increasingly, farmers also excel at knowing who they need to partner with and who they should support. (For my own part, I can’t resist saying farmers and farm groups should be doing more to support Farm Management Canada and our university ag economics departments.)

So, today is a good day to set a goal to identify two farm groups that your farm will participate in more actively this winter. Assign someone to do the research. Give them a date to report.

Make a decision. That’s what you’re good at. Then get on with it.

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

About the author


Tom Button

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.



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