On the Farm: Cam Goff and his brothers share farm equipment and help each other out during the busy seasons
Cam Goff has been involved in farming for his entire life.
Growing up, he helped out on the family farm, northeast of Hanley, Sask., along with four siblings — two brothers and two sisters.
Before he turned 20, he bought a half section of land from his father and he’s been farming ever since.
“There’s nothing I’d rather do,” says Goff, who worked in the oil and gas industry for a short time and briefly considered a career in the renewable resources sector before settling on farming as a full-time career.
“I tried a few other things, but after a while, I realized that this is where I wanted to be.”
The Goffs — Cam and his wife Bev — seed about 900 acres each year, growing primarily wheat, barley, flax and canola.
A handful of other crops, including mustard, rye and winter wheat, are also included in the rotation from time to time.
Peas are grown occasionally, but pulse crops are not a great fit for the area, due to uneven terrain and the occasional rock.
Years ago, durum was also grown regularly on the Goff farm.
But over time, marketing durum became more difficult, requiring extra cost and effort, says Cam.
Today, the closest delivery point for durum is almost 200 kilometres away, at Moose Jaw, Sask.
Cam’s two brothers, Terry and Brent, are also primary producers.
Brent’s home quarter is about a kilometre away from Cam and Bev’s front door.
Terry farms near Bradwell, Sask., about 25 km away.
To keep costs in check, brothers Brent and Cam share farm equipment and all three brothers help each other out during the busy seasons, ensuring that pressing tasks are managed in a timely and co-operative fashion.
Farming has provided a good lifestyle for Cam and Bev, albeit a challenging one at times.
In addition to farming, Cam and Bev also owned a gas station and operated a farm retail operation in nearby Hanley, Sask.
Cam managed the farm retail business for nearly a decade, selling chemicals and other farm inputs to local producers as a Blair’s distributor.
Bev managed the gas station, which was sold a few years back.
A self-professed “townie,” Bev grew up in Moosomin, Sask., but bought into the rural lifestyle in the early 1980s after she met Cam.
In the busy years, when the Goffs were running multiple businesses and managing a farm, the workload was heavy, and the workdays were long.
Typical days started at 6 a.m. and continued late into the evening, Cam recalls.
At the same time, Cam was serving as a farmer-elected director to the Canadian Wheat Board, a duty that demanded even more time away from the farm.
“After a while, it just got to be a bit too much,” he says.
“There was more stress than we wanted and a lot more time away from home as well.”
Between everything else, the Goffs also found time to raise a family.
Daughters Kira and Taryn, and son, Graham, are adults now and have all moved away from the farm.
Graham is living in the United Kingdom, Taryn in Saskatoon and Kira in Ontario, where she is pursuing a career in microbiology and toxicology.
The decision to sell the gas station and get out of the farm retail business has allowed Cam and Bev to derive more pleasure from farming and spend more time pursuing other interests.
Bev currently holds a part-time position with Canada Post and is involved in the local seniors’ community.
Much of Cam’s spare time is spent maintaining an active role in farm politics.
He currently serves as vice-president of policy with the National Farmers Union and also sits on the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission.
“For a lot of farm organizations, it’s getting really tough to find people who are willing and able to become strongly involved,” Cam says.
“There are fewer farmers than there used to be and fewer people who are willing to fill those positions.”
Cam believes it’s more important than ever for farmers to remain politically active and to promote the interests of grassroots farmers with a strong, unified voice.
A proposed new royalty on farm-saved seed is among the issues that has occupied Cam’s agenda in recent months.
Bev concedes that she’s less inclined to get involved in politics.
“I’m not so politically inclined but I’m pleased that Cam is involved and that he’s using his voice where it’s needed,” she says.
For me, the best part about farming is the rural lifestyle, she adds.
“We’re fortunate that we live in a really pretty part of the world.…
“I like to be outside, so I really appreciate the countryside, the fresh air and the wildlife.… That’s a big part of what draws me to the rural lifestyle.”