Optimism in the face of “extremely difficult conditions and challenges”

Canadian farmers and the agriculture industry are surviving the present plethora of problems better than many feared

A year ago, when China began its blockade of most Canadian canola, many farmers feared canola prices would fall off a cliff.

“It didn’t happen,” noted Bernie McClean, the president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, at the opening reception for the Canadian Crops Convention.

Prices weakened and farmers did worse than most expected before the China crisis began, but canola demand turned out to be stronger than expected. Following the China news came an awful growing season for thousands of farmers, a dreadful harvest, a rail labour dispute, rock slides and weather delays in the transportation system, and finally anti-pipeline blockades that have badly backed-up all crops on the Prairies and in farmers’ bins.

Yet farmers and the industry have been able to limp through.

“My gosh, the resiliency of this industry,” said McClean to me.

That’s a common feeling that’s running through the hundreds of people attending the Canadian Crops Convention here in Vancouver. There are so many problems this year, yet the industry is making it through the worst of the storm and getting close to those rays of hope that every spring brings.

Many farmers have standing crops to deal with and rutted fields to manage before they can put in another crop, but farming always has ups and downs and a good year is as likely to occur in the coming growing season as any, so perhaps the end of these especially rough times is in sight.

Meanwhile, farmers and the industry have to continue the ceaseless work of building new markets, improving canola varieties, technologies and features, and ensuring farmers are able to operate in an environment that allows them to get a fair share of the industry’s success.

So rather than spending this convention bewailing today’s dreary conditions, farmers and industry folk will be looking forward to better days.

“In a good year it’ll be a lot easier to maintain a positive attitude,” said McClean.

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