It’s been a year to remember — one for the books. As I am writing this, I am staring out my window at a yard covered in snow. We just experienced a snowstorm for the record books. It was powerful, devastating and it came in the middle of harvest during what was already an unusually wet fall. The storm stalled my farm’s operations just after we were able to get going again following heavy rains.
Who would have thought that the record dry on our farm would turn to record wet? I think even the most
experienced weather observer would be hard-pressed to find a year with which to compare this one. Who would have thought we would be cutting grass one day and shovelling snow the next? Who would have thought this summer we would need to use the floodway to protect Winnipeg?
We’re now harvesting soybeans amid the snow. That’s a first for us. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to finish, but we’re aware that not all farmers will be able to get their crops off this year. On behalf of Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG), we wish you all the best dealing with these challenging situations and we urge you not to lose hope.
Mental health is a crucial element of farming and we strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the kinds of support available to you, so that when you need someone to talk to, you know where to go. There’s no shame in asking for help. Everyone needs a boost now and then.
Manitobans have been pulled through two elections in close succession, neither of which had promising platforms for agriculture. It was disappointing. There were a lot of buzzwords used, but no party on the provincial side had a concrete action plan and no party in the federal election had one, either.
MPSG would like to congratulate Manitoba’s new Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development Blaine Pedersen. We have already been in touch with his office and we look forward to working with him for the benefit of Manitoba’s pulse and soybean farmers. We would also like to take this time to express our thanks to the former agriculture minister Ralph Eichler. We enjoyed a great working relationship with him and we wish him all the best as he tackles a new portfolio as Minister of Economic Development and Training.
It has been an interesting year for MPSG. We’ve seen a decline in soybean acres and have been pressured to do more with a tightening budget. We feel we’ve been doing a good job at this. Our staff have found ways to cut costs while maintaining MPSG’s winning research and crop production standards. This is not easy. It requires constant evaluation and reevaluation, but, rest assured, we have good minds for such heavy tasks. You can be confident your check-off investment dollars are being put to good use.
We are encouraged by Pulse Canada’s push to increase domestic consumptions of dry beans in Canada and their involvement in the national protein strategies that are unfolding as part of supercluster funding. MPSG has been part of these discussions, as we maintain relationships with our local pulse processors.
Soy Canada has a challenge ahead of them. China is a challenging topic. When they decided to stop buying our soybeans and canola, our markets were crippled. Soy Canada’s Executive Director Ron Davidson has been very active on this file. We have full confidence in his ability to represent our soybean farmers on the international stage. MPSG board member Ernie Sirski is the current chair of Soy Canada and has done a tremendous job ensuring western Canada is represented.
We are continually encouraged by farmer uptake on our On-Farm Network program. This year, we had about 75 trials and that is anticipated to grow. Farmers have an interest in learning how to conduct their own research. I think this stems from their desire for access to independent research in a sector full of information compiled and distributed by private companies.
As you harvest in unusual conditions, I urge you all to stay safe, physically and mentally and maintain perspective on what matters in this life.