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Editor’s Note: The other side of the success story

At Country Guide, we do get criticized for seeming to print only stories about successes, not failures, but we don’t get as much flak as you might think… and we all know the reason why

You can see it again in the lineup of stories we bring you in our March 1 issue of Country Guide.

For the next generation of Canada’s farmers, “average” won’t cut it. Our future farmers must run farms that score an A if not an A+ in every category… or they will face tall odds against success in their careers.

This doesn’t mean they need to be perfect. But it does mean they can’t fight with even one hand tied behind their back.

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Tom Button
Tom Button
Tom Button

So when we bring you a story about successful farm management, there’s always an implied subtext that says every skill and attitude that builds success has an opposite that leads somewhere else.

This isn’t lost on our readers, who read as closely and carefully as readers in any industry.

For example, not everyone needs to be as adept at working a financial spreadsheet as Robert and Angela Semeniuk (A capital plan), but everyone needs to see how skills in this area will help them succeed, and everyone has to feel motivated to give them just that bit more attention for having read the Semeniuks’ experience.

The same goes for the brother-and-sister teams that field editor John Grieg describes in his features this issue. On one level, these are stories about a demographic change in Canadian agriculture, with more brother-and-sister teams farming together as equals.

Just as much, however, it is a story about the behaviours and attitudes that are driving their successes. Despite the geographic distances between their farms, and despite the differences in their family and commodity back stories, it’s what these farms share that is most impressive, including systems that ensure good communication, and giving each partner defined areas where they have the responsibility and authority to make decisions.

Again, the subtext is that when we went looking for success, this is what we found. So if you don’t see these traits when you look in the mirror, maybe you might ask why.

Yet it’s in the story “Succession shocker” that we come closest to defining failure. As you’ll read there, when Canadian farmers are asked what factors are most important to their success, succession planning is in the top three of their responses. But too many farms are failing to transform those words into an actionable plan.

I hope you’ll take time to absorb as much as you can from Elaine Froese’s observations and recommendations. There’s wisdom for all generations here… and a subtext about the cost of not being successful.

2017 can seem just another year, with moderately volatile weather, moderately volatile prices, and moderately volatile politics.

At Country Guide, we think 2017 is shaping up as a year when on a lot of farms, deferred decisions will finally be made, or they will finally be left to be always unmade.

For many of our readers, it will be one of the most pivotal years in their lives, and in the lives of their farms.

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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