Farmers need vision for future

Don Crosby
Sun Times correspondent
It isn't enough anymore for farmers to just to get by every day. They need to have a vision if they are going to be successful in the future, was the message of Kevin Stewart the guest speaker at the Bruce County Federation's annual general meeting held in Ripley on the weekend.
"Agriculture is a very busy industry and sometimes we can put our nose so much to the grindstone that we actually forget to look at the horizon . . . sometimes as producers we get pretty tactical in life and it's not so easy to be strategic," said Stewart.
Stewart is the host of Ag Vision TV. He has a history of producing award-winning agricultural television programming and is an active keynote speaker on agriculture and food-related issues.
Stewart describes a vision as conviction come to life and once in place it helps to simplify decision making with choices being made that support the vision.
"It raises the important things to the top of the pile and helps us to create a stop doing list," said Stewar, who says people are so wrapped up in their to do lists that they miss out on opportunities to try something different.
"Generating a stop doing list in life is a very valuable thing . . . there's no shame in stopping something. It's like climbing a mountain — sometimes you do need to stop and you do need to come back down and you'll climb another day and in a different spot. In agriculture we get on that treadmill. Having a vision is about challenging assumptions."
Having a vision helps to create and model a new standard of behavior that can rise above mediocre.
Stewart said since the industrial revolution society has created the average as the acceptable standard which aims somewhere in the middle, not too high and not too low. But he says the average isn't good enough anymore.
"When we set a standard that is too low we forget that the future is coming. We protect the status quo. If we protect the status quo we will misrepresent the future. Success is inventing the future," he said to a crowd of more than 160 people in Ripley on Friday.
The third benefit of having a vision is that it gives meaning to the mundane. People with a vision are leaders and they inspire hope in people around them.
"It makes the future exciting. It's about creating the future and that is exciting," he said.
Stewart acknowledges the complexity of agriculture and the increasing demands being placed on farmers but urges that they slow down and take a look at where their farming life and personal life are going.
"When we do take the time our farming life and our personal life start to make sense and we can capture a vision that we're not just doing work all of the time, not just doing chores everyday," he said.
Stewart says farming in Canada has never been more bullish with developments in technology and growing international markets opening up. For people willing to do things differently than in the past there is a bright future.
"I see a lot of very optimistic people in this industry. Yes land is very expensive, but interest rates are low. If you're a kid starting out it's going to be tough to crack this industry. I think you are going to see growing populations (China, Argentina and Brazil) with growing standards of living and somebody has to feed those people. They are demanding higher levels of protein. All of that is tremendous news for agriculture," Stewart said.
John Gillespie was returned to the position of president of the federation for another year. Brian McCulloch and Pat Jilesen were acclaimed as first vice-president and second vice-president respectively. Lorne Underwood continues as past president.
Hanover resident Todd Kuntz received $1,000 scholarship. He's a student at the Ridgetown College of Agriculture, a campus of the University of Guelph's Ontario Agricultural College.


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