By: Shelley Jones, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Saskatchewan Agriculture’s original Agriculture Awareness Strategy laid out a plan for all industry stakeholders to engage in awareness efforts under the pillars of Industry Organization and Engagement, Youth and Education, Enterprise Efforts and Advancing Nationally.
Significant advances have been made in implementing the strategy:
- Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan has been established;
- Industry members are sharing their stories with the encouragement and support of Agriculture More Than Ever;
- The reach of Agriculture in the Classroom’s programming and resources has been expanded;
- There is growing interest in agricultural careers, and post-secondary enrolments in agriculture-related studies are up; and
- Building public trust has been made a priority under the Next Policy Framework.
We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long row to hoe. According to our 2017 omnibus survey, 52 per cent of Saskatchewan consumers aren’t sure all food in the grocery store is safe, so there is clearly more work to do. Farmers and ranchers are considered trusted sources of information about food and farming, so the Ministry’s job is to encourage and help them share their stories.
A “refresh” of the strategy has more clearly defined the Ministry’s strategic role in building public trust in modern agriculture. With the new pillars of Engagement, Enterprise and Education, our focus now is on supporting the industry and educational experts in reaching their respective target audiences.
Under Engagement, we will continue to help empower stakeholders with tools, resources and coordination to engage in strategic efforts to build awareness and take action on issues affecting public trust. Further, we will support the development of young agricultural leaders to amplify and sustain the effort to grow and promote the industry. The Agriculture Awareness
Initiative and Youth Leadership and Mentorship programs are designed to assist with these efforts.
Enterprise efforts will work to create a culture of awareness across the three levels of government – municipal, provincial and national. By being better informed and by developing complementary policies, programs and messaging, governments can help build acceptance of and support for the sustained growth of the industry both in our home communities and across the country.
We all need to support education to help students and society better understand agriculture. Through Agriculture in the Classroom – who are experts in educating students and teachers – and Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan – who create connections with consumers, the Ministry will continue to fund and coordinate industry efforts to develop learning resources and experiences for these key audiences.
Our work may never be done, but as we all begin to see our roles in building public trust, it will get easier. Many hands make light work when we all accept our responsibility to do the right thing as an agriculture and agri-food industry, and then to talk about what makes it right. For more information contact Shelley Jones, Manager, Agriculture Awareness at 306-787-4323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.