It might not be new in terms of a challenge facing agriculture, but it is one that certainly needs to keep bubbling on the front burner in terms of a response.
What I am referring to is the growing disconnect between our youth and the reality of farming.
It was not surprising, but still somewhat sad to hear that at a farm information event for students held at a Norquay-area farm, there were students not familiar with farming in large part because they have had no exposure to the sector.
Norquay and area are about as rural as it gets on the Canadian Prairies. It would be expected that most people living in such an area would naturally be connected to the farm, but that is an assumption which is simply not valid anymore.
It is quite reasonable to work in a community such as Norquay, Kamsack, or Canora, being a nurse, a teacher, a mechanic and have no direct tie to an area farm. If the adults in a family do not have farm ties, something that takes them to an active farm at least for periodic visits, then the children of those people will have no in-person exposure to agriculture either.
We who have a greater connection to the farm sector, having grown up on a farm, or having careers which tie us to the sector often wonder how there can be the distrust of farming that we sometimes see from the broader public.
Yet, if we step back just a bit, if one is not immersed in a particular business it is hard to understand what actually goes on.
I look under the hood of my car and at best I have a rudimentary knowledge of a gasoline engine.
But when it comes to the detailed workings of a modern engine, with all its computer controls and gizmos, I am frankly lost.
I would note I know little if anything about modern mining or the forestry sector either.
That said, how potash is mined does not impact my thinking in the same way I think about how the food on my table comes to be there.
People should care about their food. It’s important, in fact, that they do.
But, they can only make informed decisions, can only formulate informed opinion, with good information. Good information is often best obtained by first-hand information gathering. For food, that means knowing what happens on the farm, and why it happens. From that foundation good decisions can begin to formulate.
So it is imperative producers are diligent in providing access to good information, even in small town Canada, so residents better understand the farm sector.