WHO are Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers?

Trent Dewar – Mustard Grower, Hazlet, SK

Trent Dewar and his wife Melissa Loder farm at Hazlet, SK

Trent Dewar and his wife Melissa Loder farm at Hazlet, SK

After completing an Agriculture Degree and working as a feed representative in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Trent Dewar traded in his 8 to 5 job and moved back to his fourth-generation family farm in the community of Hazlet.

When asked why he wants to farm, Trent explains, “I like the flexibility and the freedom to chart my own course. You build something and you see the rewards. I also like the daily challenge of all the variables coming my way—things like the weather, grain markets, labour coming and going, plant disease and machinery.”

Trent and his wife Melissa follow an eight-year farming rotation, which includes mustard, lentils, durum wheat, canary seed and fallow. “If you don’t take care of the land, it won’t take care of you. You need to be proactive and create an overall framework to guide you. The framework needs to include proper soil nutrition, crop rotations, fertility plans and the right herbicides—keeping in mind the weather as you create your multidimensional long-term plan. You need to be flexible to change your plan quickly within that framework.” He goes on to say, “Communication is key. To build and maintain relationships, you need to communicate your plan with family members, your banker, neighbours, grain buyers, machine dealerships, where you buy your products.”

Trent likes mustard as a crop because “it grows well on our land and we are able to manage the weeds,” he says. “Mustard is less susceptible to weather extremes. I’m most likely to take off a top quality mustard crop than wheat or lentils. The yields are more stable and predictable, as are the markets.”

Trent grows oriental and yellow mustard. “Oriental mustard is shipped to Asia for cooking oil and the yellow is shipped to the United States for condiment mustard.”

He points out that it’s important for consumers to know two things about farming.

First: “We eat the same food that comes off the shelves in Toronto. Our health is on the line too, so we aren’t going to do something that compromises our health any more than someone halfway across the world.” Second: “You need many skills to farm. You could be a mechanic in the morning; an accountant in the afternoon; flipping burgers at a community fundraiser for supper. Then you take your wife on a date with you for the late-night shift in the sprayer that evening, just to get a phone call from a neighbour that your cows are out—that is, if you have cell service.”

In 1936, the three prairie provinces had over 300,000 farms. Today, 80 years later, there are about 95,000 farms within the same area.

“Farming can be very challenging,” Trent points out. “It has a very high accident rate and can be very stressful at times. However, farming can be very rewarding. You can watch your crops, your family, and the farm all grow. Would I trade it for an 8 to 5 job with a dental plan? Not in a million years.”

 

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