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Ag Days organizers urge farmers to speak up

Only the people of the industry can tell their own story

The organizers of Manitoba’s Ag Days are throwing down the gauntlet to the thousands who will be attending the show this year — it’s time for them to start telling their own stories.

While recently unveiling yet another ‘bigger than ever’ 42nd annual show, with more than 550 exhibitors, to run Jan. 22 to 24 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre, organizers also unveiled the theme of this year’s event: “Tell your story — be an agvocate.”

They say if the multitudes that attend the 10-acre indoor show every winter shout out for agriculture every chance they get, it can help influence public opinion one tweet at a time.

“We are 100 per cent pure farm, focusing purely on agriculture, attracting over 50,000 visitors annually,” said Brad Crammond, Manitoba Ag Days board co-chair.

“As a board we feel it is an important time to have a voice, share our passion and be proud of what we do. Agriculture has evolved so much and consumers, now more than ever, have an interest in understanding how their food is produced. We need to take control of the information out there.”

According to Crammond, who leads the venture alongside co-chair David Laudin, everyone involved in the agriculture industry from producers to retailers to manufacturers and supply chain networks all have a unique opportunity to have a voice to help educate and change the perceptions of agriculture.

“Each one of us has the power to do so, each one of us has a voice,” said Crammond. “Our exhibitors were excited and jumped on board with our theme for 2019. Patrons will notice facts about the agriculture industry displayed throughout the show, plus we have some challenges in place for exhibitors.”

Throw a social

One new event that voices will be loud and proud at will be the first-ever Manitoba Social, as Manitoba Ag Days has collaborated with the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba to host the first-ever Manitoba Social January 23 at 8 p.m. in the newly restored ‘dome building’ with all funds raised going directly to Ag in the Classroom — Manitoba (AITC-M).

Several regular show mainstays remain in place. Admission and parking is free; Manitoba Ag Days is the last show of its kind to remain completely complimentary.

The annual Kickoff Breakfast will be held at the Canad Inn’s Great Western Roadhouse Bar and Grill on Tuesday, January 22 from 7:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. with a minimum $5 donation going to Manitoba Farm Rural and Northern Support Services.

“It has been a challenging year for growers and we want to make sure everyone knows about the services that are out there for them – pick up a phone or text the Manitoba Farm, Rural and Northern Support Services; they are there to listen without judging,” says Kristen Phillips, Manitoba Ag Days general manager. “The breakfast is sponsored by the Canad Inns, The Great Western Roadhouse Bar and Grill and QCountry 880AM/91.5FM.”

Once again, the Bull Congress is jam packed with 23 farms showcasing their latest genetics and five associations. The Manitoba Ag Day’s Adventure, run in conjunction with Ag in the Classroom, will take place throughout the show with this year’s theme “Agriculture — Think Global, Act Local” highlighting a worldwide perspective.

“Join us January 22 to 24, 2019 to learn something new – listen to someone new or discover something you didn’t know before,” said Phillips. “Join us on Twitter at @MBAgDays as we share farm facts and tell our story. We hope we expand your horizons and push you to new thoughts, limits and possibilities, because if we didn’t — well, quite frankly, then we didn’t do our job.”

Manitoba Ag Days is agriculture proud

As the calendar speeds toward Manitoba Ag Days 2019, show general manager Kristen Phillips always likes to pose a special question at this time of year.

“When you think of Ag Days, what do you think of? The exhibitors, the red carpet, the speaking theatres, the camaraderie or something else?” she said. “Manitoba Ag Days is Canada’s largest indoor farm show and we are delighted to say we are ag proud — that’s what we are thinking of.”

Often, says Phillips, Manitoba Ag Days board and staff members are asked, “What is new at Ag Days? What is different about our show?”

“To be honest, every year is different,” says Phillips. “Agriculture is one of many industries that is advancing, growing and changing at light- speed. Farmers are being pushed to evolve and change or risk being left behind.”

Phillips says Manitoba Ag Days exhibitors are always pushing their limits, bringing in the new- est and best products on the market regardless of if they are in the Inventors’ Showcase or in the New Products features of the show or not – every single exhibitor has something to offer.

“In my own opinion, the No. 1 thing that exhibitors can offer you is their knowledge,” she explained. “It’s been 371 days since our last show and as you have learned, changed, and grown this year so have our exhibitors. We have the best of the best at our show and we cherish those relationships.”

Manitoba Ag Days challenge: #tellyourstory

The Manitoba Ag Days board challenges everyone involved in the agriculture industry to get involved using these has tags on Twitter to #tellyourstory, be an advocate, be #agproud at #agdays19 and share some #farmfacts whenever the opportunity presents itself.

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