(SASKATOON, SK) The fifth annual ‘Farms at the Table’ Conference took place December 6, 2018 in Saskatoon, SK with representatives from crops, livestock, horticulture, retail, education and government in attendance. This annual event hosted by Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan (FFC SK) is designed to encourage the agriculture sector to work together to share strategies and information to increase public trust in food and farming.
“This year we focused on being open to change,” says Clinton Monchuk, FFC SK Executive Director, “With so many views, production practices and food choices it is important to remember we all have a choice. A choice on how we listen and a choice on how we view other opinions. This conference is intended to help those in agriculture to engage in meaningful conversations about food and farming.”
Tamar Haspel, a correspondent with The Washington Post, challenged attendees to ask themselves: “when was the last time I changed my mind on something important?”
Three producers, Travis Heide, Adrienne Ivey and Ross McDonald, discussed different production methods, such as organic cropping and raising beef using hormones and without hormones. The panel generated a considerable amount of discussion. “Obviously, there’s many different ways to grow food,” said Lane Stockbrugger, a conference participant and farmer from Englefeld, SK. “We need to talk more to each other so we get to know more about these production methods and share with consumers that it doesn’t have to be a food fight.”
Terry Tyson, General Manager with Grain Millers of Canada, explained how his company has adapted to meet consumer demands.
Patricia Chuey, a well-known dietitian and food commentator, spoke about food fads, consumer trends and Canada’s new Food Guide. “Food is so personal for most people,” Chuey said. “No wonder it gets emotional at times! Most people are simply looking for peace of mind around their food choices.”
“It really brought home that farmers and the agriculture industry need to connect with consumers first about the values we share,” Monchuk observed. “We all have values that are near and dear to our heart, so we need to recognize that change starts with listening and understanding.”
The conference also announced the winner of the 2018 Food & Farming Champion. This year’s winner was Sherri Grant, a rancher from Val Marie, SK and a strong advocate for the agriculture industry. Sherri was nominated for her passion, engagement and commitment to promoting agriculture to students and consumers. Sherri has been a dedicated volunteer focusing much of her time on educating children about agriculture and beef production.
FFC SK would like thank their conference sponsors: Cargill, Great Western Brewing Co., Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Grain Millers, Ag-West Bio, New-Life Mills, SaskFlax, Star Egg Company, the Livestock Forage Centre of Excellence, Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, SaskCanola, Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, Saskatchewan Egg Producers, SaskMilk, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, SaskPork, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Government of Saskatchewan.
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Today, less than 3% of Canadians have a direct connection to the farm, which is one reason why so many have questions about how their food is produced. Farm & Food Care works to address consumer questions and inspire more confidence in our farmers and in Saskatchewan-grown foods. To learn more, follow us @FarmFoodCareSK on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. More details available at farmfoodcaresk.org.