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In defence of Open Farm Day

It is an important event in a busy world

The following is a response from the Manitoba Association of Agricultural Societies (MAAS) to an opinion piece that ran in the Oct. 1 issue. The opinion piece by reporter Shannon VanRaes noted that many types of livestock farms cannot be open to the public due to biosecurity issues, and suggested that raises more questions with the public than it answers. MAAS has taken responsibility for delivery of Open Farm Day beginning in 2016.

We were dumbfounded when we read the article, “How open is open farm day? Livestock industry is risking its social licence,” and the comment, “farmers need consumers, but consumers don’t need farmers,” by Shannon VanRaes.

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Does this mean that people haven’t made the simple basic connection that when they buy a jug of milk, a dairy farmer made that possible? Or that when they buy a loaf of bread, a grain farmer made that possible? That is exactly what it means. We believe an easy equation to remember is: no farmer equals no food.

Always optimistic, we choose to believe that most consumers understand the ‘no farmer equals no food equation’ and perhaps, just perhaps, the writer of the statement, “farmers need consumers but consumers don’t need farmers” wanted the agricultural industry to realize, ‘yes you are busy producing food for the masses but maybe the masses don’t know who you are, and consequently are starting not to care.’

OK, we can buy the argument that maybe we do need to remind consumers that there is a face behind that jug of milk and loaf of bread. In today’s 10-second world, when everyone is so busy, we completely take for granted that we can stop at the corner store and get whatever we want to eat or drink.

How many of you gave a second’s thought, today about the food you have consumed and where it originated?

Open Farm Day is the annual opportunity for consumers to touch the farm. We all have a responsibility in this event. We encourage farmers to continue to take the time out of your crazy schedules and tell the consumers your story by opening your farm gates once a year.

Consumers, reconnect with your food. Learn about where and how it is grown and gain an understanding of the complexities that farmers navigate on a daily basis to ensure that you have a safe and healthy food supply. That’s the point of Open Farm Day.

Open Farm Day celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2015, the third Sunday in September. Tens of thousands of Manitobans have hit the road over the past five years to visit their local farms, to enjoy a day in the country and to learn more about where their food comes from.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 18, 2016.

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