by Clinton Monchuk, Farmer and Executive Director of Farm& Food Care SK
In a world that has become polarized on many issues, it’s great to see the agriculture industry coming together and collaborating at increasing levels.
Since the establishment of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan in 2014, the road to building trust in food and farming has not been easy. There will always be special interest groups that look to rip the fabric of food-growing individuals throughout our country, but we’ve united through it and have become stronger. I see the inroads made between farmers and commodity groups where commonalities around the environment, shifting consumer demand and ever-changing production methods result in constructive discussions.
We can now have a chicken farmer and a beef rancher proactively talking about changes to their on-farm food safety programs. As it turns out, organic, regenerative and conventional farmers all have the same focus on their soil health to produce crops. Similarly, groups like Farm & Food Care have partnered with Agriculture in the Classroom, Ag More Than Ever, Canadian Centre for Food Integrity and numerous farm and agri-business groups throughout the country. All these engagements are aimed at providing consumers with factual information, increasing food literacy and allowing consumers to make informed decisions about what to feed themselves and their families.
The collaboration continues with those who are advising Canadians on what to eat. Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan speaks to numerous dietitians and gives on-farm tours to ensure they have hands-on experiences of what farmers/ranchers do and why. We’re also spearheading the Canadian Food Focus project, which shares Canadian food and farming stories with the aim of building food literacy and confidence in our national food system. These partnerships build dialogue between farmers and dietitians, offering answers to questions that Canadians have every day about their food. The two-way conversations allow us to better understand the different constraints that consumers have, resulting in increased trust on both sides.
I’m a strong believer in the phrase, ‘no one wins in a food fight’. We can stand back and see how differences of opinions have set up walls between ideologically differing views, but no one stands to gain from these barriers. There will always be a demand for organic food, conventional food, animal protein and plant protein and we all have the capacity to work together to ensure Canadians and those around the globe can benefit from our over-abundant food system. We truly have been blessed in Canada to have a multitude of different landscapes and growing capabilities, which have resulted in choices and options for consumers in grocery stores. Collaborating and working together as a Canadian food and farming sector makes us stronger, more resilient and builds consumer trust in what we do.
Henry Ford once said, ‘If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself’. As food and farming changes, I’m happy to see our collaboration, partnering and internal discussions are moving forward in a successful manner.