Farmers’ view of ag careers rosier than public’s: FCC

Canadian consumers are far less likely than producers to consider or encourage a career in agriculture, Canada’s federal ag lender finds in a new survey.

Farm Credit Canada on Wednesday released results of a national survey of an “FCC Vision Panel” convened by polling firm Angus Reid in March. The survey, FCC said, paints a “challenging picture of the industry.”

Canadian consumers who took the survey chose “weather-dependent,” “struggling,” “under-recognized,” “underpaid” and “essential” when asked to choose the top five words from a list associated with the ag industry.

While producers in the survey sample chose “nearly identical” words, producer optimism “remains high,” FCC said. About 80 per cent of producers would recommend a career in agriculture to a family member or friend, the survey found.

“Although farmers recognize the challenges inherent in the industry, they still would encourage others to get involved in it,” FCC said.

Only 21 per cent of consumers, however, would consider a career in agriculture, and just 27 per cent of consumers would encourage someone else to pursue it, FCC said.

“It’s obvious that both farmers and consumers recognize that there are challenges associated with agriculture,” FCC CEO Greg Stewart said in the agency’s release.

“It’s surprising that the words chosen did not focus on opportunities. There are so many success stories in agriculture and related industries that counter this perception.”

“Resilience”

Staff and farmers FCC quoted Wednesday appeared to focus more on those opportunities.

“Although I didn’t start my career in this industry, it wasn’t hard to fall in love with it,” Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin, FCC’s vice-president of Prairie operations, said in the release.

“Agriculture is diverse, international and full of interesting challenges. You’re constantly dealing with different issues such as commodity pricing, environmental practices, and international trade. The best part is the people. They have a passion, dedication and resilience that’s unique to agriculture.”

“I’ve seen agriculture evolve over the past 15 years I’ve been in it full-time,” seed grower Calvin Watson of Avonlea, Sask., said. “I like that there are different challenges every year. Getting through tough times made us think outside the box. I think that education is also key to managing ups and downs.”

“Agriculture is my future,” said Jason Pinsonneault, a crop and vegetable producer at Dover Township, Ont. “You’re always learning, and there are lots of resources out there to help. You’re more of a businessperson than a farmer, I think. Agriculture is stable and rewarding, and the opportunities are endless.”

“Right here in Canada, producers positively affect people on the other side of the world,” Stewart said. “We hear that from customers every day. We need to share this information with consumers and young people who are making important career choices.”

The FCC Vision Panel survey was conducted online March 8-10 among a sample of 2,015 Canadians who are Angus Reid Forum panel members, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 per cent on the full base, FCC said.

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