Ag Education · Agriculture · Farm Life

This Isn’t Your Grandpa’s Farm

FACT: My family farm produces enough food to feed 120 people every day.

My grandpa’s farm produced enough food to feed 10 people every day.

This ISN’T my grandpa’s farm.

Canola_farm_2012

So why are today’s farms able to produce that much more? Crop protection products and plant biotechnology tools are allowing farmers to produce more yield per acre. Advancements in agricultural innovation are enabling farmers to grow more with less.

FACT: In the 1930s, one out of every three Canadians lived on a farm.

Today only about 2 per cent of the population live on farms.

With so many people removed from the farm, misconceptions form. For example, many people still hold a romanticized view of farm life. They picture the classic storybook image of a farmer wearing coveralls, a piece of straw dangling from his lips, holding a pitch fork and tending to his handful of animals. But this is not accurate. Today’s modern farmer can easily transition from grease-covered jeans to a shirt and tie (or a chic dress), and will most likely be carrying a smartphone to stay current on the markets, local weather and ag news. Today’s modern farmer is utilizing GPS and variable rate technology on agricultural equipment to maximize agricultural production.

So why can’t we go back to the way it was, you ask? Land availability is one reason.

FACT: Without crop protection products and plant biotechnology, farmers would need 37 million more acres of land – roughly equal to the total annual crop area of Saskatchewan – to produce the same amount of food we produce now. 

With expanding cities, I’m not sure where we would find this land.

Another reason is cheap food. Today’s farmers are not only feeding more people but feeding them for less.

FACT: In 1900, fifty cents of every dollar earned was spent on food.

Today we spend just 10.6 cents of every dollar we earn on food.

We have affordable, plentiful food in Canada and the United States. I know what you may be thinking, “I don’t care about cheap food. I want healthy food and I’m willing to pay more for it.” Are you really? I think most people say that because they think it’s the right thing to say. But when push comes to shove, most consumers want the lowest price possible. Who doesn’t love a good deal, right? And besides, inexpensive doesn’t always have to mean unhealthy.

FACT: Thanks to modern crop protection and plant biotechnology tools, Canadian families save 58 per cent on their weekly grocery bills. 

My family farm may look different and operate different than my grandpa’s family farm but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Agriculture has evolved, along with everything else. And in this case, the facts are showing that progress is a good thing.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts below.

*Statistics provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1251899760841&lang=eng and CropLife Canada: http://www.croplife.ca/just-the-facts 

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