Ranch Musings: The state of agriculture

Columnist David Zirnhelt is thankful for where they are and who they are

I need to remind myself that we all need time to express gratitude for what we have, not what we don’t have.

So, this is my Thanksgiving wish for all ranchers, farmers, eaters of food, and anyone else in the food system: we are facing unprecedented chaos in our environment (flood, excess water, drought in places) and economic/financial challenges, perhaps permanent ones — may you thrive in the face of this adversity!

Things could be worse, much worse.

From the 30,000-foot level, this is what the agriculture industry looks like.

Taken as a whole, the industry is losing money, according to the latest Statistics Canada figures. Land prices are up maybe six times the inflation rate, which discourages the next generation.

Our human resource situation is not getting better fast enough to encourage more farmers to come up with succession/transition strategies and to act on them.

Millennials probably don’t want to work the way the retiring boomer generation did. The next generation after the millennials still have to prove themselves.

This raises the question about just what are we entitled to and how hard do we have to work or how smart do we have to be, to work for it.

Governments never have enough resources to put towards the problems, and communities may not be cohesive enough to develop the capacity to work together on common issues.

Individuals and small businesses rarely have all the skills they need to operate.

Knowing what crops will grow best to feed consumers and regenerate the land and soil is an ongoing problem in the face of climate changes.

Knowing how to manage yourself, those you work with, and those you wish to take over from you, are huge challenges.

Pollution by agriculture — too much phosphorous and nitrogen getting into water — has resulted in a new set of regulations. Now farmers have to test soil before applying chemical or manure fertilizers.

It is difficult to get recommendations on improving your soil’s health. The cost of compliance with regulations is creeping up. The cumulative cost increases to agriculture have no offsetting increase in prices that will keep up with food price increases.

Government’s answer, and to some extent industry’s own answer, to the challenges is to think globally, to think locally and to improve management by measuring through monitoring and planning based on your analyzing your business, and on and on.

It is no wonder that an increasingly aged workforce in agriculture is keen to get out, or kick back and enjoy what we have.

I know our Thanksgiving tables will be pausing to be thankful for where we are and who we are.

More importantly, we will remind ourselves that what we wish for ourselves, we should wish for others.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake.

READ MORE: Ranch Musings: Permaculture in Canada



editor@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Correlieu grad starring in new swashbuckling ‘femme-forward’ play in Vancouver

Junita Thiessen grew up in Quesnel and went on to study acting at Capilano University

Quesnel boxer prepares for first pro fight in Canada

Shawn Archer is set to fight Ari Ashari at The Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam on March 21

Quesnel invited to bid on 2024 B.C. Winter Games

The City will discuss partnerships with regional district, school district, Lhtako Dené First Nation

College of New Caledonia Quesnel’s Science and Technology Day showcases passion and opportunities

The public event featured the School District 28 science fair, tours and presentations

Quesnel curlers headed to B.C. Club Challenge

Team Plant will represent the Cariboo Region in the provincial championship

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Most Read