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Farmers’ view of Ag careers rosier than public’s

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food commentator

A few blogs ago I wrote about a U.S. listing of dirty jobs that no one wants. That list included several that were ag-related. Unbeknownst to me, a study has also been done here in Canada. The results of the Farm Credit Canada survey were recently released. And it is not good news for attracting new entrants to the farming sector.

According to the FCC press release, Canadian consumers are far less likely than producers to consider or encourage a career in agriculture. Canada’s federal ag lender conducted the nation-wide survey in March and calls the findings a “challenging picture of the industry.”

FCC reported that both groups surveyed used similar words to describe farming when asked to choose five words from a list associated with the agricultural industry. The words were: weather dependent, struggling, under-recognized, underpaid, essential.

“Although farmers recognize the challenges inherent in the industry, they still would encourage others to get involved in it,” the press release stated. About 80 per cent of producers would recommend a career in agriculture to a family member or friend, the survey found. Only 21 per cent of consumers, however, would consider a career in agriculture, and just 27 per cent of consumers would encourage someone else to pursue it, according to the survey.

Of note was that both producers and consumers focussed on the challenges not the opportunities in choosing their top five words. “It’s surprising that the words chosen did not focus on opportunities. There are so many success stories in agriculture and related industries that counter this perception,” the FCC said.

The FCC news release also highlighted a few of those who share their own reasons for choosing an agricultural career:

“I’ve seen agriculture evolve over the past 15 years I’ve been in it full-time,” seed grower Calvin Watson of Avonlea, Sask., said. “I like that there are different challenges every year. Getting through tough times made us think outside the box. I think that education is also key to managing ups and downs.”

“Agriculture is my future,” said Jason Pinsonneault, a crop and vegetable producer at Dover Township, Ont. “You’re always learning, and there are lots of resources out there to help. You’re more of a businessperson than a farmer, I think. Agriculture is stable and rewarding, and the opportunities are endless.”

“Although I didn’t start my career in this industry, it wasn’t hard to fall in love with it,” Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin, FCC’s vice-president of Prairie operations, said in the release. “Agriculture is diverse, international and full of interesting challenges. You’re constantly dealing with different issues such as commodity pricing, environmental practices, and international trade. The best part is the people. They have a passion, dedication and resilience that’s unique to agriculture.”

As one of only 15 city kids in my agriculture college year, I am among that 21 per cent who said they would consider a career in agriculture.  I couldn’t have made a better career choice. We need to share this kind of information with consumers and young people who are making important career decisions. Agriculture employs one in eight Canadians and I am proud to be one of them.

Until the Next Blog

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Posted by OFAC on October 3rd, 2011 :: Filed under Consumers,Food,Speaking out
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