Parliament Hill writer hangs ‘closed’ sign on column

They say all good things must come to an end.

Sadly, this column is one of them.

After more than six years with iPolitics and five years of writing a column for The Western Producer, I am moving on to a new gig with Thomson Reuters in Ottawa as an economics reporter starting May 21.

It’s a new adventure, one that I am excited to embark upon.

But I would be remiss if I failed to mention all the moments these past few weeks when I’ve found myself thinking back on all the great times I’ve had covering agriculture.

I have loved every … single … moment. I honestly mean that.

The irony is that I became an agriculture reporter almost by accident.

You see, iPolitics had initially hired me to be a health reporter.

Since yours truly had almost failed high school biology and chemistry, the beat didn’t seem to be the most natural fit.

If I wasn’t going to cover health, I needed a story to pitch.

I started digging around.

A fellow reporter tipped me off that the House agriculture committee was doing a study on bee health.

People like reading about bees, I thought. This might work.

Well, read they did. So I wrote more bee stories and then expanded my files to include other animals like pigs, chickens and dairy cows.

I picked an animal a week and, since it was the summer, my editor was simply grateful to have the copy.

Six months later, the 2013 grain crisis hit and the rest was history.

I was officially an agriculture reporter.

What has struck me the most about Canadian agriculture these many years, however, is the people.

I will forever be grateful to those of you who have taken me under your wings and have patiently explained the ins and outs of Canada’s agriculture industry to this city gal.

You have welcomed me into your homes with open arms, always with an offer of a mug of tea, and yes, sometimes a butter tart too, regardless of how busy it might be down on the farm.

When I was confused, you set me straight, always politely.

During the crazy times when the North American Free Trade Agreement was being renegotiated or trade disputes were heating up, so many of you were willing to chat or talk with no complaints, despite what was often a late hour.

Canadian agriculture, you have been so patient, kind and trusting — which is more than any reporter can ever ask.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

While my new role means I likely won’t be digging into the depths of the Canada Gazette as much, I will forever be an agriculture reporter at heart.

The importance of this sector to the Canadian economy is not lost on me and as the world continues to navigate an ever-changing international marketplace, I can only assume agriculture will continue to become more present in the discussions.

I know I have not written my last agriculture story.

It has been a privilege to cover you these past six years. Thank you for tagging along on my trips to committee, for humouring my desire to crack agriculture-related puns and for keeping me company at many a farm meeting.

It has been a wild ride. One I will never forget.

Kelsey Johnson is a former reporter with iPolitics,

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