By Scott Shiels
This harvest was one for the record books, but not in a good way for most producers. The weather across the Prairies was not very harvest friendly, and for most producers, two days in a row running the combine was a rarity. This should make for some interesting challenges marketing the 2019 crop for sure.
I recently attended a conference that focused on what the ag industry, as a whole, needs to do in order to increase awareness of the safety of our Canadian food system, and agriculture in general in this country. The 2019 Canadian Public Trust Summit to be exact. A joint conference between Farm and Food Care Sask, and the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). I thought that I would share some of the thoughts and ideas from this conference with all of you, since it is imperative that we all work together in this endeavour.
For too long now, each sector of the ag industry has worked on its own to try and further their individual agendas. There is nothing wrong with the way that we have been doing things, and until recent years, there was no real push to do it any differently. However, groups like the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity and the Farm and Food Care programs in Saskatchewan and Ontario, are making a great case for collaboration between all the different sectors in Canadian agriculture.
When we are talking to consumers we need to make sure that we are conveying a unified message regarding the safety of our farming practices and the security of our Canadian food system. From poultry to beef, grains to oilseeds, or even organic to conventional farming systems, everyone needs to get on the same page and work together to ensure consumers that we are using best practices and producing the best and safest food in the world.
A recent survey done by the CCFI shows Canadian consumers are very concerned about the use of pesticides in crop production, as well as the use of hormones in livestock production. There are also the lingering concerns around GMOs and glyphosate, two issues that are at the forefront in the media. However, this same survey found consumers hold farmers the most responsible to provide credible information to them, and Canadians also trust producers more than any other sector of the food system, a high honour. Because of these factors, the industry needs to start relying on farmers to get involved with marketing campaigns to showcase how safe our foods are, and how the production of them, from farm to fork, is done ethically and responsibly. The quote, “Everyone has a place on the plate” signifies the importance of everyone working together to ensure continued growth and improvement in our industry.
I want to leave you with another quote from a conference speaker: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
If we can get each of our different sectors collaborating to convey a unified message to our customers, it could take us further than we ever dreamed.
Until next time…