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Moose Jaw Express March 13, 2018

March is Agriculture Month

A rainbow in the sky is God’s promise that the earth will never be covered by a flood again. Looking out the window, I wonder if that the promise excluded snow!

The recent snowfall is just what our local farmers and ranchers have been hoping and praying for, as it provides some much-needed moisture for the 2018 growing season.

It will be some weeks yet before our growing season begins, but it is still a good time to bring awareness to where our food comes from. March is Agricultural Literacy Month and Rural Women’s Month.

Since 2012, Agriculture in the Classroom – Canada has been working collectively to declare one week in early March as Canadian Agriculture Week.  Last year was the first-time agriculture literacy was celebrated with events and activities for the entire month. It brings farmers, ranchers and other members of the agriculture industry into elementary school classrooms around the province to read stories and discuss their agricultural experiences. Because many young people grow up in cities and larger communities, and aren’t involved in farming, programs like these are important to strengthen understanding of agriculture and the community involvement in putting food in their lunchboxes.

Women who live and work in our rural and farming communities play a significant role in shaping the future of our province. The province proclaims March as Rural Women’s Month to recognize the impact women make on agriculture and our economy as a whole. According to the 2016 Canadian Agriculture Census, one in four farm operators in Saskatchewan is a woman.  These women are part of a growing trend across the country.  In Canada, women account for 28.7 per cent of producers, up from 27.4 per cent in 2011.

This commemorative month has evolved since the 1990s, beginning as just a week and eventually turning into a month-long celebration. The month is observed by women’s groups across Saskatchewan as they celebrate and recognize the contributions rural women make to the province.

The significance of Agriculture Month goes beyond an appreciation for Agriculture. During March, Saskatchewan producers are well into planning for the 2018 season. Crop Insurance is an important part of that planning. Last month Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced details of the 2018 Crop Insurance Program.  Saskatchewan producers will have access to very high coverage as the Crop Insurance Program continues to improve, as a result of the success of Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers. There are a number of enhancements for the Crop Insurance Program this year.  Fire insurance for pastureland, more crops to be insured under the Contract Price Option and increased compensation rates for cattle lost due to predators are new options for 2018.  The average premium for 2018 is $8.41 per acre, down slightly from $8.51 per acre in 2017.

We have the whole month of March to thank an agricultural producer and recognize the important role of rural women. The snow has been inconvenient for some of us, and it looks nothing like a rainbow, but it is a hopeful sign of a successful growing season, which is good for everyone in Saskatchewan.