Interesting how we can go from snow and cold to melting and abnormally high temperatures in a matter of a week. However, that is Manitoba. I know with the warmer temps and snow melting farmers are beginning to look towards the fields. The itch has started. In most cases the planning, the budgeting, the repairs and input purchases have been done. Now it is time to get at it. As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “Git R Done”. After a mixed bag of excessive moisture, flooding and ultimately drought conditions last year farmers appear to be cautiously optimistic. They are showing their resilience. For an outsider looking in it is refreshing to see that. Just like the season, there are new beginnings. And as an outsider I need to be mindful of the struggle it takes to provide the food I eat on a daily basis. I need to take the time to “Thank A Farmer’.
While lounging by the pool down south I wore a Thank A Farmer t-shirt one day. The reaction was bizarre. People stopped me and wanted to talk. They were interested. It was difficult to get from point A to point B without getting involved in a discussion with a complete stranger. I loved it. Everyone knows someone who is a farmer. Many people have family members who are farmers. One person asked me why we should thank farmers. He seemed to take exception to it. I replied by telling him that farmers produce the food we eat and that is why we should thank them. His response left me bewildered. He told me that if it wasn’t for him people would not be reading. I did not pursue it. I felt myself being frustrated. I knew my response would not be diplomatic. (diplomacy: the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip) I walked away. I found out later that he owns a printing business. Farmers, generally speaking, are price takers and not price makers. I suspect this person does not run his business that way. I suspect he is unclear on the concept.
I stopped in Winnipeg, this week, at a nutrition store. Picked up my supply of protein powder. The gentleman behind the counter wanted to talk. We obviously talked about the weather, it being Manitoba and all. He started talking about how it looked like farmers would be off to a good start and how important it was that farmers would have a better year than they had last year. He was all too aware of the drought conditions last fall. I commented about how refreshing it was to hear a business person inside the perimeter expounding the virtues of agriculture. He was quite emphatic when he suggested the economies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were directly linked to agriculture. He obviously gets it.
An August, 2010 article in the Ottawa Citizen had the following quote; “Too often farmers are overlooked in our rush to throw something on the table. And that does a disservice to them and, ultimately, to ourselves. You see, when you get down to issues of survival, international relations, global security and trade between nations, it really is all about the food. Always has been”.
A Chatham, Ontario newspaper told readers to get the attention of politicians about the importance of agriculture. “Lean on your MP and MPP; lean on every MP and MPP across this great nation of ours. Write them all letters, phone them all, send them all e-mails, put signs in your yard, telegraph them, have them paged in Wal-Mart or hire a sky writer. I don’t care how you do it, but get their attention and do it repeatedly”.
So to all farmers out there; Thank you. Make it a safe one. Make it a good one.