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Introduction TCME March 2010

There is a surprising theme that people outside of agriculture seem to be following these days, and it is easy to find in the pages of a newspaper, on television, radio or the Internet.


March 16, 2010
By Ralph Pearce

There is a surprising theme that people outside of agriculture seem to be following these days, and it is easy to find in the pages of a newspaper, on television, radio or the Internet.

To say agriculture is misunderstood by many Canadians is a bit of an understatement, like Torontonians tend to be a little…self-centred.

The disconnect that exists between Rural and Urban defies any and all attempts to “re-bridge” the gap. Some of it comes from the “hat in hand” approach of our national farm press; workshops and conferences are organized every year to attract some editor or news director to unveil the secrets of getting favourable farm stories (“our stories”) into the pages of a big city daily or on television. At the same time, we read about the ongoing need for urban gardens (to lessen our carbon footprints) or that the damnable ethanol industry in the US (and Canada) is stealing the food right out of the mouths of the starving masses of the world. What is often lost on the vast majority of these people, how-ever, is that increasing the scale of urban gardens to meet consumer demand would push prices too high to make the whole process feasible. As for the starving masses, few, if any, of them would eat grain corn (as opposed to food-grade or sweet corn). Most do not want to hear contrary opinions and bristle at the notion that they may be ill-informed.

One of my college instructors referred to this as “forced stupidity.”

One small shift in mindset
Through it all, there remains a need, not to get “our stories” published or aired, but for a shift in thought and consideration. Sorry to say, but the federal government may be on to something. For years, the agriculture ministry has been known as “Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,” a designation which has always seemed to be a tad confusing. But now, its subtle differentiation is completely logical, in much the same manner as, “All poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles.” In our world, “all food results from agriculture but not all agriculture results in food.” That is an important and rapidly emerging truth in this industry. Farmers are not solely responsible for food production; you are feeding people, yes, but also livestock and industry, science and health care, plus energy, education and equipment. The demand is expanding as is the opportunity to supply it.

What also needs to expand is the understanding of what agriculture entails.

And maybe that small distinction would help create understanding and awareness – for everyone.

Maybe that is the thought to remember for all of us as we “march” into spring.

Getting set for the season
And, as we march into spring, Top Crop Manager offers our standard fare of features, just in time for the vernal equinox. There is the Weed Control Guide, our latest Machinery Manager section and a solid array of stories dealing with everything from weed management to plant breeding to fertility and nutrients. It is a timely and information-packed issue, at a time when making informed decisions is really what it’s all about.


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