Monthly Archives: June 2012

Farming – Half Full or Half Empty

ImageIn my June 6, 2012 blog posting (Spin Cycle for Agriculture Not Required), I provide comment on FCC’s surveys and specifically FCC’s President and CEO’s comments of changing the public’s perception of farming.  Shortly after that posting, Mr. Stewart commented on my blog posting.  Mr. Stewart’s comments can be found on the June 6 posting page.  I thank him for his comments and wish to comment further to his response. 

Mr. Stewart states “farmers joke about winning the lottery and farming until it’s all gone. That doesn’t convey a very positive – or accurate – outlook.”

I agree that outlook is not positive but have to disagree about the accuracy.  In many cases this is very accurate. 

Mr. Stewart also states “a majority of Canadians have come to believe that agriculture is not progressive, forward-thinking or a great potential career opportunity”. 

I believe that a majority of Canadians believe that agriculture is very progressive, especially when tours of our farms showcase the massive equipment and advance technology involved in that equipment.  As far as a great potential career opportunity, farming is a great career but in order to support it, many farmers have to have a second career or secondary cash flow to support it.  Considering that fact, it’s up to the reader or farmer wanna-be to determine if farming has great potential or not.

FCC’s avenue to provide agriculture with a launching pad for their stories ( can definitely be an asset.  But when the general public views farmers as some of the most honest workers in the world, taking a chance to change that view is definitely a gamble.  At the same time, the general public’s view of bankers and/or pseudo-bankers like FCC isn’t quite as favourable.  In fact bankers rate right up there with politicians and lawyers – Yikes!  Common sense tells me to be careful of affiliations with bankers and their kind.  Along that same line, when Mr. Stewart states that “Our support of Agriculture More Than Ever is not about selling products or building our loan portfolio”, I say but it certainly won’t hurt FCC if it does sell more products or increase their loan portfolio as a result.  In other words, can anyone say ‘conflict of interest’?

Mr. Stewart professes that FCC offers farmers – even non-FCC customers – services for free.   As stated in a previous blog posting, that four-letter word, ‘free’ is very misleading.  The offer of something free, rarely is.  FCC’s objective is to make money – like any business.  So if they’re offering something free, that cost is being covered somewhere else in their business plan – like every other business. 

In the end, I truly believe that both Mr. Stewart and FCC believe that agriculture is a great industry.  I believe that too.  But it doesn’t mean that I would recommend agriculture as a potential career to any young person.  Agriculture is hard work, has long hours, is very risky and takes a great deal of capital to begin.  It’s also rewarding and it takes a special person to handle the pressures of farming.  Young people know this, which is why fewer folks are entering the farming fold.  Don’t start spinning the information to get them in it.  If it takes a pretty picture that has hidden challenges and dangers behind the barn door rendering, to get a young person into farming, the artist has done a disservice to the young person and to the agricultural industry.  But maybe this picture could have gotten another customer for FCC.  I don’t think it’s worth it.      

Being truthful about the agricultural industry provides better information to the general public about farming than having an approach of changing the perception of farming.  The truth is what the public deserves and wants – and it’s what farmers have given – at least up until now.  If Agriculture More Than Ever has honest, true, factual information, I’m all for it.  After all, a glass half-full is the same as half-empty.      


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Spin Cycle for Agriculture Not Required


Farmers are deemed as one of the most trustworthy occupations in Canada.  That’s why Ontario Egg Farmers changed their name from Ontario Egg Producers back in 2006.  That’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned.  So why is it that Greg Stewart, CEO of Farm Credit Canada, thinks that farmers and agriculture need to change that perception. 

 In the June issue of FCC Express ( it was reported that the Canadian general public showed a prevailing assumption that agriculture was unlikely to have a bright future.  Mr. Stewart adds, “Image matters.  To attract the people, skills and investment needed to meet the growing demand for food, those of us involved in agriculture have a responsibility to promote the industry.”  Really?  Shouldn’t being the most trustworthy occupation be the best image one can achieve and the best way to promote the industry?  Is Mr. Stewart saying that the agriculture industry needs a ‘spin doctor’?  I can see why he might think this is necessary as he represents a pseudo-bank (with government ties) – and banks certainly need a spin doctor – a whole bushel basket of them, a whole grain truck full of them, a whole barn full of them, etc., etc.,!   

 Maybe the general public has believed farmers when they say that agriculture is a very demanding, challenging and capital-heavy, risky industry.  A very honest representation – no spinning required.  If the general public has listened to the farmers, they also know that agriculture can be very rewarding – not always financially rewarding but rewarding in other ways. 

 Anyone that follows the FCC Express Newsletter would have recently seen the following article headlines:

 –        “Family farm still strong”

–        “Survey shows ag is robust”

–        “Canadian agriculture is strong”

–        “Farm cash income rises in 2011”

 This is just a quick sample of their headlines.  If I am to believe these lines, then why is it that young people aren’t flocking to this industry, begging to sign up?  Having young people believe the FCC headlines would definitely benefit FCC but would it be equally beneficial to the young people entering this very challenging industry?  Statistics  Canada states the average farmer age 54 years.   Something doesn’t add up here.  Could it be that the FCC newsletters and surveys don’t reflect the reality of agriculture?    Or maybe FCC is simply a bank in sheep’s clothing and everything they report should be questioned. 

 Agriculture doesn’t need a spin doctor, but maybe FCC does.  I’ll continue to believe farmers, rather than survey interpretations FCC provides.  Hope consumers do too. 


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