Canola group uses social media to dispel misinformation

The Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission recently debuted a 30-minute documentary film designed to win back consumer confidence in farming.

“The conversations about agriculture and food production have grown exponentially since the birth of social media,” said former commission chair Dale Leftwich.

“That has made it easier to share misinformation as well as information very quickly with the global network.”

License to Farm is the commission’s attempt to address the myths about farming that are making the rounds on social media.

“This phenomenon of food fear has put producer prosperity, our prosperity, in jeopardy,” he told delegates attending the commission’s annual general meeting at CropSphere.

“So SaskCanola has taken the action of producing a video.”

The film addresses consumer concerns about genetically modified food, pointing out that the technology has allowed farmers to use less diesel fuel and adopt zero till seeding techniques, said commission vice-chair Doyle Wiebe.

“I’m 61 now, and 40 years ago I saw my land blowing away. Now I haven’t had a dust storm since (adopting zero till),” he said.

The documentary also sets people straight on pesticides. Wiebe said people think all the fluid shooting out of sprayers is chemical.

“The amount of actual chemical is very small on a per acre basis. Most of what you see is water.”

Scientists are interviewed to confirm how much testing and regulation is involved in registering a pesticide or GM crop.

The film’s target audience is fellow farmers, and the goal is to encourage them to engage in meaningful conversations with urban dwellers to help dispel some of those myths.

“It really encourages farmers to think about the moral high ground that you actually have,” said Leftwich.

“It’s so easy for other people to decide that they know what’s best for the environment and what’s best for the world and that farmers are pawns in that process.”

The video talks about how farmers are producing more with less by employing more efficient and sustainable practices.

“Farmers are the people who are in the environment. We’re the people who wake up every morning, and we see what’s going on around us,” he said.

SaskCanola is working with groups such as Farm & Food Care Canada, Agriculture in the Classroom, Farm Credit Canada and other commodity groups to ensure the video is viewed by as many people as possible.

The film can also be viewed at licensetofarm.com.

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