The impact of Ag
If you’re not a Manitoba farmer, you might assume that agriculture has nothing to do with you. You may think that agriculture is encompassed by planting seeds, growing crops, raising animals, and then selling those products. But agriculture plays a huge part in the day-to-day lives of all Manitobans because it’s a massive asset to our economy; without it, today’s Manitoba would look very different.
The agriculture sector provides approximately 40,000 Manitobans with jobs, making it a key driver in our provincial economy. In 2016, there were 2.3 million people employed in the agriculture sector across Canada, representing 12.5 per cent of our country’s total employment rate. Put simply, agriculture employs about every 1 in 8 Canadians.
Agriculture is also a colossal contributor to the lives of all Canadians, whether or not we’re directly employed by it. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) states our country as being the 5th largest agricultural exporter in the world, producing about 75 per cent of all maple syrup, and being one of the largest exporters of flaxseed, canola, pulses, oats, and durum wheat worldwide.
Aside from feeding our economy, agriculture feeds us. Most Manitobans don’t spend their time catching their own dinner anymore; we rely on our local manufacturers to prepare the food we set on our tables. If it weren’t for Canada’s agriculture sector, most of our pantries and fridges wouldn’t look all-too appetizing.
And if that’s not enough to convince you, the agriculture sector is also responsible for our clean air, soil, and water; which is vital for every single one of us. AAFC continues to invest in science and works with farmers to ensure that our food comes from sustainable farming practices.
If you don’t think agriculture in Manitoba affects you, imagine how your life might change if Canada’s agricultural industry didn’t look the way it does today. Everything from the job you’re working at right now, the meal you had for breakfast this morning, and the home you wake up in every day could be affected.
Our agricultural sector, both in Manitoba and Canada-wide, is modern, innovative, and growing. It’s our job to preserve and protect our natural resources, so that we may better accommodate it and, ultimately, create better and more sustainable lives for ourselves.
Why this is an important topic today
COVID-19 has made a lot of Manitobans, and really Canadians everywhere, question the security of our supply chain. As soon as businesses and schools began closing back in March, store shelves were clearing out, online grocery orders were backed up, and some households were waiting weeks get healthy food on their tables. If there’s one thing we need to take away from this, it’s that agriculture is crucial to every aspect of our wellbeing.
Although we didn’t have significant disruptions to our supply chain, we could have. Food security concerns were on people’s minds throughout this pandemic, making us question whether, as a country—as a province—how secure are we? How close did we come to not being able to access nutritious food? Should we start producing closer to home? Is that the answer?
I used to grow an entire garden of vegetables—now I just have a few tomato plants that I can barely seem to keep alive.