Celebrating the farming life in February might seem a tad incongruous. Yet, it's the perfect time for reflection, which is what this day's all about.
While most fields lie fallow under soft blankets of winter white, while rural roads are quiet with fewer tractors, combines and wagons travelling farm to farm, while livestock huddles in the warmth of barns and coops rather than open pastures, we wander grocery aisles in search of fresh produce, great cuts of meat and whole grains. If you don't know that everything you're seeking is because of the people who work the land and raise the animals, then it's time to think about that.
There is a good reason to celebrate agriculture. We do it very well in the late fall and early autumn here. A neighbouring community annually hosts a homey, but huge, homage to country living of yesteryear with its Thresher Reunion and Steam Show on the weekend following Labour Day. Thousands come out to see the big machines that once toured the communities with crews to get the work done. There is a gigantic craft sale, and an antique car and tractor show. Demonstrations range from the archaic — belt-setting — to the entertaining — bag tying and log sawing.
Then there are the plowing matches, both local and international, held before the end of the month. From the Queen of the Furrow contest to competitions on the field, from displays to entertainment these events are much-anticipated happenings, attended not just by country folk but urbanites too.
Of course, no rural community would be anything without its fall fair. Though changing lifestyles have seen many of these struggle to survive, in the true spirit of coming together that is synonymous with a rural community, they always manage to wrap up with their sights aimed fiercely on the next year.
Why? Because around here agriculture matters. Those of use living in rural communities have a complete and total knowledge of the importance of agriculture and the dedication to its continued role. However, while we immerse ourselves in the activities of farm life during the spring, summer and autumn, come winter we perhaps can use a reminder of what the efforts during those days do for us. As noted earlier, Canada has a rich and diverse agricultural industry. Yesterday, we took time to celebrate that.
Agriculture More Than Ever lists 10 reasons why:
• 2.3 million Canadian work in agriculture
• Canada sells over $50 billion in agricultural exports
• 98% are family operation
• It contributes over $100 billion to Canada's GDP each year
• Farmers are proud environmentalists
• Follow recognized codes of practice for the care and handling of animals
• Canada ranks number one in global food safety performance
• Study proves Canadian agriculture is a trusted industry
•Agriculture is a passion and way of life
With all of this in mind, it seemed appropriate that today's photo collections will pay tribute to agriculture and the people who bring us our daily bread — not just in Canada but all around the world: