Mark Cullen: The evolution of the family farm
Published Wednesday, October 5, 2011 8:31AM EDT
The movement of food from Canadian farms to our forks is a topic of great interest today. Perhaps it is our keen awareness of the value of everything that we put in our mouths and tummies, the results of which can be beneficial or catastrophic, depending.
- EXCLUSIVE: Read a guest blog submitted by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz
When we look at the beginning of that important chain -- the production of food -- we realize that there is a generation of farmers who are disillusioned by what they see in the crystal ball and are vouching in large numbers to find work elsewhere. It is with this in mind that we sought out a member of the incoming generation of farmers -- Jeff Barrow, a cash cropper/grain farmer is a 6th generation Canadian farmer.
To suggest that great change has taken place since Jeff's great, great-grandfather first opened up the land in an effort to feed his family through a variety of ‘mixed' farming, would be to understate the situation. Fact is Jeff now farms over 5,000 acres, owns four full sized harvest combines and employs a lot of people, including some extended family. This is hardly the picture that we have in our minds of the typical Canadian farmer.
Welcome to the new reality on the Canadian Farm.
The fact is Jeff personifies the potential for a successful generation of farmers in Canada, it is just not the image that most of us hold near and dear.
In my opinion, it is all part of the new reality that we are dealing with on every level.
On the opposite end of the farming scale we have small scale organic or ‘sustainable' farmers who are selling directly to retail markets and servicing niche restaurants.
Perhaps the lesson here is that there is indeed more than one way to skin the cat, as my Dad would say. Farming successfully never was straightforward: today even less so.