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Not all poodles are dogs, and lessons from the federal government

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, or on television, radio or the Internet.


March 17, 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, or 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, however, 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, sponsored by Dow Agrosciences, 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 arguably our biggest, most information-packed issue of the year, at
a time when making informed decisions is really what it’s all about.