By John Jamieson
In Canada, we are fortunate to have access to a diverse and abundant supply of safe and nutritious food. Behind this food supply chain are many hardworking and dedicated people, including our farmers. Farmers have always been at the heart of our food system. We have great confidence in farmers, making them the most trusted group in the food system. But who is the typical farmer today? What do they look like and how do they contribute to our food system?
Today’s farmers do not resemble the stereotype that many of us hold. Today, they are skilled and educated professionals who use science and technology to produce food efficiently and sustainably. They are innovative and resourceful, constantly seeking new methods to increase yields, reduce waste and minimize their impact on the environment. They are also diverse, coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Gone are the days of the traditional stereotype of the farmer – the older man working on a family farm. Today’s farmers range from women, new immigrants, and members of a large agricultural business to sole proprietors of a small family farm. Farming is a technical field, and farmers often have degrees in fields such as agronomy, environmental science and economics.
The use of science and technology is essential for today’s farmers. They are using precision farming, which uses data analysis, sensors, and GPS technology to monitor crop growth, soil moisture and nutrient levels. This allows farmers to apply water and fertilizer, for example, only where and when it is needed, reducing waste, and maximizing yields. They also use plant genetics and biotechnology to develop crops that are resistant to pests, drought, and disease, reducing the need for pesticides and herbicides.
Despite the many challenges facing the agricultural sector, Canadians hold farmers in high regard, and for good reason. Farmers work hard to produce the food that feeds us and contribute significantly to the economy, generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. They are also stewards of the land, working to preserve and protect it for future generations.
Despite the importance of their work, the number of farmers in Canada has been declining for decades. The average age of a Canadian farmer is now over 55, and many are close to retirement. That’s why it’s important to value agricultural jobs and create opportunities for young people to enter the agriculture profession. We need to recognize that farming is a highly skilled profession that requires a wide range of skills and knowledge. We must also recognize that farming is a rewarding and fulfilling career that offers many opportunities for growth and development.
As Canadians, we are proud of our farmers and the vital role they play in our food system. Let’s continue to support them and invest in their future so that they can continue to provide us with safe, nutritious, and delicious food for generations to come.
John Jamieson is the president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.