Nuffield in the Great White North – March 7-9

After a couple of days in Washington, we boarded Air Canada for the Great White North – Winnipeg, Manitoba!  After almost 4 weeks away from Canada, it was great to be back in familiar territory.  I had been talking up the cold weather in Canada to my Aussie travelling companions and the weather didn’t disappoint.  It wasn’t cold by Canadian standards, but we were able to experience –15C with a solid wind chill.  Much different than the +45C some would be experiencing at home in Australia. IMG00143-20120309-0857After one cold day, it warmed up to a nice +5C.  My wife Carie sent Canadian scarves for everyone, which were much appreciated!

Thanks to Wally Doerksen, Nuffield Scholar and retired farmer from Steinbach, Manitoba, we had several meetings with farmers and P1080653organizations that showcased innovation in Manitoba agriculture.  There are major changes occurring that affect the structure of wheat marketing in Western Canada.  It was interesting to meet with a CWB official to learn about their plans for marketing wheat in the future.  The Australians went through a similar process that  deregulated their wheat marketing system a few years ago.  We had some lively discussion among our group. It was refreshing to talk with farmers that have first hand experience moving from a single desk to open marketing of wheat.  We can learn a lot from farmers in other countries about how they have dealt with change and survived marketing turmoil.  Do we do this enough?

While in Manitoba, we had our first real discussion about the beef industry.  Canadian beef farmers are finally seeing decent prices and optimism after almost 10 years of struggles as a result of BSE in Canada disrupting export markets.  I spent close to 10 years working in the beef industry before switching to grains.  Its nice to see the industry getting fair returns what I would consider the best food in the world – nothing beats a Triple A Canadian steak!

P1080650Through my travels, I am continually impressed by farmers from around the world. They all seem to possess similar traits – things like quiet optimism, modesty, acceptance, family values, and integrity. No wonder the general public ranks farmers among the most trusted professionals, ranking up with doctors and nurses!  It’s kind of like those stories you hear about twins that were separated at birth.  When they are reunited as adults they share incredible similarities.  In the case of farmers, it can’t be genetics that cause the similarities, so it must be their environment.   Perhaps it’s because farmers around the world face common challenges, such as weather dependency, volatile markets, independent, asset based business and often isolating work.

I heard this comment this week: Farming is like a poker game, once you put the seed in the ground, you are all in.  I can identify.



One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Adam on March 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Hmmm…the venue looks somewhat less exciting than some of the others. I’m sure it had it’s own “je ne sais quois”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: