Spin Cycle for Agriculture Not Required

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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. 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Agriculture

One response to “Spin Cycle for Agriculture Not Required

  1. Thanks very much for your comments about Agriculture More Than Ever. Farming is a noble profession and as you note, it’s one of the most trusted occupations. That’s a great point that’s worth sharing.

    I welcome healthy debate and appreciate hearing different views. Agriculture More Than Ever is a cause that is very important to me personally and others in the industry. This isn’t an FCC initiative. It’s industry wide. We’re just kick starting it. I’ll say more about that later.

    For those of us involved in the industry, we’re preaching to the converted. If you’re a farmer, you know it and you love it – challenges and all. But farmers joke about winning the lottery and farming until it’s all gone. That doesn’t convey a very positive – or accurate – outlook.

    Unfortunately, for too long, the challenges and negative aspects of agriculture have been the focus of attention in general conversation and in the media. As a result, a majority of Canadians have come to believe that agriculture is not progressive, forward-thinking or a great potential career opportunity.

    Agriculture More Than Ever is about closing the gap between the positive outlook shared by many farmers and the negative views of agriculture outside the industry. The future of agriculture depends on a steady stream of labour, investment and innovation to keep the industry strong and help meet the rising global demand for food.

    We believe the best way to improve perceptions of Canadian agriculture is for producers, agriculture professionals and others with a stake in the industry to tell their stories. They won’t all be rosy but there are so many positive stories that also need to be shared. Our role is to provide the channels to deliver those stories – the website (www.agmorethanever.com), YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The rest is up to producers and others involved in agriculture. You call it “spin”. I call it balanced reporting.

    It’s also industry-driven. While Farm Credit Canada is initially helping to lead this effort, we are one partner among many who will drive it. Nothing would please me more than to see producers, agribusinesses and other players take on a leadership role in the coming months and years.

    FCC is Canada’s leading agricultural lender and proud of it. We’ve helped thousands of producers across Canada to expand and improve their operations. Our customer satisfaction scores lead the industry.

    But we’re more than a lender. We offer farm management software. We offer education programs and learning events to help producers build their businesses. These are all offered free of charge to farmers – many of whom are not FCC customers. So this cause is a natural fit for FCC.

    Our support of Agriculture More Than Ever is not about selling products or building our loan portfolio. We truly believe that agriculture is a great industry and we want to see all producers succeed – whether or not they are FCC customers.

    Thanks again for sharing your views. Open dialogue is a great thing.

    Greg Stewart
    President and CEO
    Farm Credit Canada

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