October 12, 2016

Bright Future for Farming in Saskatchewan

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October is Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan, and this year’s theme is “Our Food has a Story”. As thousands of farmers finish up the harvest on millions of acres of cropland, this is a time to highlight the people who sustainably produce the healthy, affordable and safe food we eat here in Saskatchewan and around the world, and tell their stories.

Recently I had the honour of attending a very special harvest.  It was a small piece of land by today’s standards (only about 35 acres) and the crop wasn’t exotic, it was standard Hard Red Spring Wheat (HRS), developed right here in Saskatchewan.  But the people harvesting this particular crop embodied the future of Agriculture in our great province.

Thanks to the dedication, drive and vision of local volunteers, students at Churchbridge Public School were sowing and harvesting much more than wheat; they were learning about farming, farm life and the importance of both to their community, their province and country, and in fact the world.

The countless hours of hard work, innovation and entrepreneurship by thousands of farmers, ranchers and Ag producers makes our province Canada’s leading Ag exporter with more than $15 billion in exports last year.

Saskatchewan is growing but – in terms of population – we’re still a small province in Canada.  And despite this, nobody in Canada, not Ontario or Quebec, or British Columbia, sells more agriculture product than Saskatchewan.  And Canada is a nation built on international trade.  So that’s saying something.

Too many people, when they think of a farm, they think of some fields, maybe a barn, maybe an old tractor and a few animals.  But that’s not all there is.  As the students at Churchbridge school are learning, there is much more to a farm.  There is an entire world on our farms.

There is no more important work in our province than what farmers do.  What we grow here goes around the world feeding billions of people, creating tens of thousands of jobs and helps make our province strong.

India, China, Vietnam, South Korea, the United States, Europe and Africa and more all come to Saskatchewan for what we grow and produce.

India, an ocean away on the other side of the globe has over one billion people to feed.  And to feed them they turn to Saskatchewan.  In fact, about three-quarters of all the lentils that India imports come from Saskatchewan.

Recently Premier Brad Wall returned from China and South Korea where he was joined by farmers and the Ag industry to talk about what our province’s farmers do.  He’s proud of it, our government is proud of it, and we think the world could use a little more Saskatchewan.

And this comes back to school programs like the one here in Churchbridge where teachers and principals have incorporated agriculture into every grade, throughout the curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 12.  Where young students in Kindergarten classes learn about different seeds; and elementary students learn about water and soil conservation; older kids learn about machinery, emerging technologies like drones, and the business and marketing of farm produce.

All of this so that our province’s great agricultural industry can be passed on to the next generation.  All of this so that the work thousands of farmers do today to keep Saskatchewan strong, will continue for years to come.

And all of it thanks to dedicated volunteers, teachers and community members who donate time, experience, expertise, land, equipment and seed.  The Vice-Principal has told me that thanks to this program, the school has harvested over 1,700 bushels of HRS wheat and profited about $9,000.  The Grade 10 math students are working with the local credit union to figure out the best investment to keep this program running for years to come.

I want to thank everyone who has helped make this program such a success.  Without them none of this would be possible. 

  • Candace Mitschke-Hiller, Creative Consultant & Sharpe’s Learn Ag Program, Sharpe’s Soil Services
  • Amanda Kornaga, Vice Principal Churchbridge Public School
  • Land was donated by Gordon & Carol Johnson
  • Graham Sorgard, Sorgard Seeds, seeds, labour & equipment
  • Neil Rathgeber, Fraser Seed Farms with farm operations
  • Randy Kaeding, farm operations
  • Cash donations from Churchbridge Credit Union and the RMs of Churchbridge & Langenburg
  • Crop protection products from Bayer Crop Science and Dow Agro Sciences
  • Ag More Than Ever

Warren Kaeding is the MLA for Melville-Saltcoats and serves as Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture for Irrigation Expansion

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