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Special Guest Post: Erin Calhoun, Communications Coordinator (Grain Farmers of Ontario)

Today we have a special guest post from Erin Calhoun. She’s been the Communications Coordinator for Grain Farmers of Ontario for the last two years, and Friday is her last day. Even though she’s moving on (don’t worry–she’s staying in ag!), she wanted to share some of the lessons she’s learned being a part of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Team.

Usually, when you start a new job, it’s a pretty steep learning curve; however, even considering that I think my learning curve when I started working for Grain Farmers of Ontario was a little steeper than most.

When I started as a Communications Coordinator, I had only a rough idea about agriculture. Not being from a farming background and only having dabbled in any areas of agriculture that didn’t involve horses, I had a lot to learn. Here are some of the key things I have learned in my two years:

  1. First and foremost, farming is hard. Like really, really hard. They have to be a mechanic, weather forecaster, grain merchandiser, driver, environmentalist, biologist, entomologist, soil expert… basically a jack of all trades, but they have to be a master of all of them. I am still amazed at how much work farmers have to do. This is probably the biggest impression I have had from the agriculture industry, in particular the grain industry.
  2. Farmers are innovative. Long gone are the days of idyllic visions of a farmer working his land with horse and plow. Farmers are constantly adopting new technology, especially younger farmers, in an effort to increase efficiency and productivity. This could be anything from self-driving tractors to using drones to view their fields from the sky, to using technology to apply exact amounts of pesticide or fertilizer to the ground. It’s really very amazing. Farmers and ag businesses put a lot of work into assessing what can help their farm or their customers.
  3. Farmers are the original environmentalists. For some this is hard to believe, but if you think about it, they want to keep their farmland workable for their children and their grandchildren – plus they don’t want to waste money spraying unnecessary chemicals or applying excess fertilizer (I’ve also discovered farmers are excellent businesspeople – certainly not in the business of wasting money).

Agriculture is a sector like no other. It’s a dynamic, innovative, and difficult industry, relying so heavily on factors nobody has control over. Farmers across Ontario and the world work to feed our growing population and they have every right to be proud about what they do. I didn’t truly understand what a difficult job farmers have until I started working in this incredible industry – but now I know how important it is that everyone is aware of how much farmers really do!