The pride of many farmers is first and foremost the feeling of continuing the work begun by their ancestors. Some are working on the family farm that is more than 10 generation owned.
Most of our farms are small and family owned. The animals are well treated and the farmers work with the seasons.
There is historical, cultural and environmental value to this farm system. Unfortunately, the farming industry as we know it is in danger.
Farming isn’t for the lazy. It’s a difficult job. The rate of suicide is high. It’s not easy for farmers who live at the bottom of the ranks and work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with no group insurance plan or retirement plans. Yes, there is a variety of personal health insurance and RRSP, but that, like everything else, means additional costs. Everyone has the right to live.
Not many young people who haven’t grown up on a farm want to take on such a challenge. There might be more people interested if farming was more accessible and easier to pass on once one is ready for retirement.
Young people who are interested do not have the means to acquire farms and older farmers want to retire but can’t afford to without finding someone to take over the farms.
Farmers work 15 hours a day for little salary, much under the minimum wage. It makes it difficult to survive and even harder to keep a business afloat. In 2006, a report revealed that 1/2 of the producers had a high level of psychological distress and that 73.5% were regularly stressed due to the amount of work and financial hardships. These statistics don’t help attract young people.
Perception doesn’t help the farming industry. Too many people think that farmers are over-subsidized, whereas this is really not the case. They hardly receive anything. When there is subvention available, it is so complicated that it is almost impossible to qualify. Too much red tape.
Costs of business get higher every year, but food sold has to stay at the same low price to compete with bigger farms and food industries from all over the world. Everyone is having financial difficulties, which means that the general public isn’t hesitating to purchase the cheaper food items from outside the country over the more expensive food items from our own country. If asked, most of us would prefer to support local business, but we simply can’t afford too.
The only way to make agriculture interesting for the next generation is financial aid adapted to the reality of today.