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Agriculture This Week - Agriculture important to appreciate

It is to the point almost every day on the calendar has been assigned a ‘designation’ by somebody.

It is to the point almost every day on the calendar has been assigned a ‘designation’ by somebody.

The three levels of government are always slapping an it’s ‘a something day’ on the calendar, and when they aren’t organizations and groups are quick to do it in their stead.

At some point I suspect having a designated day actually had people lifting their heads out of a good book, or away from the television screen long enough to be aware the day had been given some added significance.

But that was many years ago, and today I doubt many blink at the mention, instead they keep posting about the untimely shooting of a gorilla that could have endangered a child, or they are posting cat pics with some silly saying all over social media.

It is now a bit of the boy who cried wolf phenomenon. Do it too often and people eventually stop paying attention.

The result is some industries which deserve some additional recognition at times get loss in the general malaise.

A case in point is agriculture.

The sector is about as vital as there is. Outside of air and water there is nothing we require more than food to survive.

We are generally beholding to nature for our water and air, although we hold a responsibility to protect the quality of both, but the agriculture sector is crucial in terms of food production.

The agriculture sector comes under a lot of scrutiny today, taking heat for the use of fertilizer, weed and insect control chemicals, genetically modified crops, and more and while I might argue much of the concern is unjustified, I’ll leave that alone for the time being.

Instead, I’ll just remind that the concerns are generally brought by people sitting down to rather bountiful meals every day, with the food on the plate still rather reasonably priced given how critical it is to survival.

So a day that reminds people of the importance of the overall farm sector is not a bad idea, even if it gets lost in the crowd of many designated days.

Canadian agriculture representatives recently announced February 16, 2017 will be Canada’s Agriculture Day – a time to celebrate and draw a closer connection between Canadians, our food and the people who produce it.

“We all eat food yet many people don’t automatically make the connection between what’s on their plate and the commitment and care that goes into raising livestock, growing crops or processing food,” said Crystal Mackay, in a prepared release. Mackay is CEO of Farm and Food Care Canada, a national charity committed to building public trust and confidence in food and farming in Canada.

In the 1930s, more than 90 per cent of Canadians had a connection to agriculture. Today, it’s less than three per cent, according to Statistics Canada census information.

“Every link in the food production chain – from the farm to the grocery store and restaurant – plays a vital role in bringing food to your table every day,” said Mackay, whose group organized the summit. “Canada’s Agriculture Day is an opportunity to get involved, celebrate and be a part of the conversation about food and farming.”

Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever, said Canada’s Agriculture Day compliments the industry-led initiative that has attracted over 470 partner organizations and 2,100 individuals committed to creating positive perceptions of agriculture. Launched more than four years ago, Agriculture More Than Ever’s goal is to encourage those involved in agriculture to speak up and speak positively about the industry.

“It’s all about showing our love, pride and passion for an industry that puts food on our tables,” Hill said in the release. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to be part of something big and important.”

Hill encourages the industry, organizations and individuals to mark the date on calendars and come up with their own ideas and activities to promote and celebrate Canadian agriculture.

And therein may lie the key to raising the status of Agriculture Day to one where people outside the industry become aware and engaged. If those involved in the sector can create compelling events around the designated day for people to learn more about the importance of the sector everyone can benefit.

Society most certainly needs agriculture, but the public also needs to better understand the industry in order to better trust and respect the efforts of farmers.

Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.

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