Continuing with my month-long series featuring diversity in Agriculture. Today we travel to Canada to hear from a farmer who’s working to share why he is proud to be a part of Agriculture. Why are YOU Agriculture Proud?

I was blessed to grow up as a farm kid in a fairly large city, being able to take the benefits of both. Over that time, it didn’t matter whether I was at the rink, or at school, I was the farmer. Even after graduation from University when I went back to urban settings, I was proud of my farm background and my vocation as a farmer.

Lately, I’ve been asked to speak on behalf of the agricultural industry to members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. For those who don’t know, Ontario is going through some tough times, but since the recession began, agriculture has become the largest industry in Canada’s largest province. Right now, we, the agricultural industry are the province’s best chance to pull itself from the economic doldrums. The opportunities are here. The future is here and with that, the pride and excitement are here.

Let’s look at where we are right now: as a whole, agriculture is the number one industry in Ontario, second is manufacturing, of which the largest component is ag manufacturing. Ontario farmers are the major suppliers to Ontario’s green energy production, we have a growing ethanol industry, which comes from Ontario corn. We have made major environmental improvements, showing environmental stewardship and we have continued to do this for years. Less than 2% of the population are making these improvements for the better health of the entire population. A healthier population means lower health costs, something that is very important in a place where health costs are the major expense in the budget.

Since Confederation, agriculture has been a major component of the Ontario economy. We have numerous memories spread across it, including right in downtown Toronto with Massey Hall (yes, THAT Massey family). We’ve given Canada a Governor General (Vincent Massey) and Ontario a governing party United Farmers of Ontario (forerunner to OFA). Going forward, we will be the ones that allow Ontario to go without coal power and continue to provide a more healthy environment, both for the population and the “Queen’s livestock.” When I speak of agriculture, I speak of economics, environment, trade, chemistry, meterology and nursing all tied into an inescapable dance between art and science. It’s no wonder I love it and every reason that I am #agproud

–Joe Dickenson

Learn more about the work of Canadian Agriculture online at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture website