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 (www.fccfac.ca/newsletters/en/express/articles/20120601_e.asp) 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.