Less and less people have a tie to farming, but as a sector agriculture remains an important one not just on the Canadian Prairies, but around the world.
There may be less farmers but they still till the same amount of soil, and ultimately produce the food we all eat.
We may be at a point in our history where too many people think food just comes from the supermarket, and are little aware the milk in the carton on the table at breakfast comes from a cow on a farm, but that does not change the importance of the cow, or the farmer.
So it is a good thing when we try to raise awareness a bit by pausing to say thank you to farmers in some small way,
Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart recently proclaimed October as Agriculture Month in the province.
It is not a new initiative to mark the month, but it remains a worthwhile endeavour.
It is too easy for those of us not involved directly with farming to forget just how difficult the business is.
Farming is one of those occupations where you can do everything perfectly and Mother Nature still ultimately determines how successful the crop will be.
No amount of fertilizer can boost production without rain.
Nothing a farmer can do can protect a crop from an early fall frost.
So farmers roll the dice with every crop. They invest large amounts of money in seed, fuel, fertilizer and other inputs and then hope nature cooperates.
And even if nature cooperates farmers take what they produce to a market where they have little control of the price they take for the crop grown.
It is a multi-million dollar business today, where a single tractor or combine can cost $500,000, or more. For comparison that is like two new entry level homes in a city such as Yorkton, with a few dollars left over to start furnishing.
The scale of farming today is something that is hard even for those working with farmers regularly to get their heads around.
The average Prairie farm will have a far greater capital investment than most retail businesses in the towns and cities which dot the map.
The annual operating costs of a farm will be higher than those same businesses.
To the credit of the Brad Wall government it is taking a lead in trying to re-inform the broader public about the importance of farming.
Agriculture Minister Stewart and Farm Credit Canada President Greg Stewart recently signed a partnership agreement recognizing Saskatchewan as the first province to become an official partner on Agriculture More Than Ever.
“Partners of the initiative will work to promote the contributions made by farmers, ranchers and the industry to the economy, environment and health of people around the world. Through Agriculture More Than Ever, producers, stakeholders, industry leaders and others involved in agriculture provide information, dispel myths, and tell success stories to improve public understanding of the industry,” detailed a Saskatchewan government release.
It will be a major undertaking in an era fewer and fewer people have ridden a tractor around a field, or helped move cattle to pasture.
But because farmers ultimately feed us all it is critical we better understand and appreciate what they do so that we have continued confidence in the food we eat, and how it was produced at the farm level.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.