Commonalities among farmers in other countries

Recently I had an opportunity to sit down over an early morning coffee with Jordan and Jennifer Lindgren who farm in the Norquay area.

Their name may be familiar to some since the couple were finalists for the Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmers Award for 2018 ending up with the top placing presented at the Farm Progress Show held in Regina last June.

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As such awards often do, it has brought opportunities to the couple, including a chance to spend a couple of weeks in Australia earlier this year where they gave a short series, there were three stops on the itinerary, talking to farmers there about their operation.

At first it might seem that a farm couple from Norquay, SK. would have limited insights into agriculture which would transfer to a farmer in Australia, but the Lindgrens were quick to point out there are far more similarities than you might expect.

The first is rather obvious once they mentioned it over that coffee, and it is how farmers, no matter where they are, are ultimately reliant on Mother Nature.

It did surprise the Lindgrens that there are areas of Australia where frost is a threat to crops, much as it can be here.

And, in some areas ‘down under’ canola is planted through what is essentially their winter season, so heat units are lower, and that extends the growing season, making that frost concern more dire.

Less of a surprise was the impact of heat in Australia. Large chunks of the country are arid, to the point they talked about one area where land is left idle for 18 months just to recharge the groundwater allowing farmers to then plant and harvest at least some crop based on in-soil moisture.

In another area harvest can be shut down because the temperature soars to 40 degrees Celsius, so there is a ban on operations for fear of starting fires.

But the similarities go beyond keeping one eye on the sky, and tuning into the weather forecast daily.

The Lindgrens note much as here, farmers in Australia face issues when it comes to find workers, with a minimum wage they noted at $20/hour, and competition from the mining sector.

Increasingly, work on a farm is a high tech job, needing workers with skills that go well beyond the ability to drive a tractor. That is a situation which is not isolated to a single country or region.

While on the larger scale countries compete for markets when it comes to exporting farm production, at the farm level there is no doubt much producers can share in terms of information which cuts across international borders.

That commonality is something that producers should not forget.

Calvin Daniels is Editor of Yorkton This Week.

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