Flood, farmers and food

In Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press reporter Bartley Kives wrote a story titled, Farmers’ hopes washing away. Here’s the link if you want to read it: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/farmers-hopes-washing-away-119967924.html 

Kives writes about how the current flood throughout southern Manitoba is affecting farmers’ fields and will impact food prices. I was pleased to see such a story in the Winnipeg Free Press, which has a high percentage of urban readers. Unfortunately very little agricultural news makes the mainstream media and when it does it’s usually negative. But it’s important for Winnipeggers to realize how the flood is affecting farmers and food. Most Winnipeggers sit inside the protection of the floodway and have no clue as to what’s happening on the other side. While they’re high and dry, the farmers’ fields just outside the floodway and along the flooding rivers and lakes are being swallowed up by the deluge of water.

And then some urban consumers have the nerve to complain about the rise in food prices. Fewer and fewer farmers have to feed a growing world population on less land. Urban sprawl is one factor that contributes to less land for agricultural production. And another is flooding. Sure, the land is there, but if it’s too wet to seed it’s pretty much useless to the farmer. He or she will most likely get no crop off that land that year.

Most people only want to read about issues that affect them, which is why in this story Kives makes the connection between flooding, farmers’ fields and food prices. As long as their grocery store shelves are stocked, they have no worries. And there’s no doubt that Manitoba farmers (despite the diminishing number) will be able to feed Manitoba’s small population. But this loss of productive agricultural land from flooding will affect their ability to help feed the rest of the world.

We as Canadians still have cheap food compared to other parts of the world, especially third world countries. According to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, in 2010 the average Canadian spent about 12 per cent of personal disposable income on food. We Canadians could use a lesson in gratitude. Let’s be thankful that we have farmers to produce food for us and we pay relatively low prices. Thank a farmer.  

Any thoughts? Leave a comment below. Or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

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