Manitoba Ag Days along with the Government of Manitoba hosted a "question and answer" session with some of MB and SK's biggest organic farmers.
If you're interested in knowing what are the biggest challenges big scale organic farmers face, how they manage to "manage" their time, money and effort and whether it's worth your while - read the below blog post:
We had a great time attending Manitoba Ag Days late January, a big thank you to @katherinestanley, @lauratelford and @MBGovAg for having us.
Travis was on a panel along with @jasonpeters from Kroeker Farms Limited and @stuartmcmilla15 from Legend Organic Farms. It's always refreshing to share challenges and ideas with others - to know that our struggle is not just our own but that there's a community of farmers out there fighting the good fight right along side us - we all farm because we quite simply put, LOVE IT! Here's a summary of the question and answer session held :
The first question to the panel was, "What are some of the biggest challenges your operation face as a result of larger than average scale?"
The answers varied from finding and sourcing good reliable, committed staff. Knowing your land and keeping up to speed on what's happening on which field - when you're farming over 20 000 acres it's not an easy task to get to every quarter. Capitol spending - prioritising the wants and needs of every department; finding creative and innovative ways to solve problems . Cash flow, especially if you're not depending on shareholders or outside investments. Turning your crop into cash, selling it for what its worth , fair liquidity!
2. How do you manage labour and equipment resources in order to complete activities in an effective and efficient way?
It's of utmost importance to plan ahead - which machine or piece of equipment will be working which field with whom doing what. This is the type of planning that needs to be done in winter months.
Another crucial component to ensuring your productive and ready to execute as soon as the snow melts is good, proper, working equipment and machinery.
There's time during the winter months to prepare and maintain equipment - make sure it gets done.
And whilst planning, make sure you're not over extending your equipment, this could lead to a decrease in productivity. There's nothing worse than fixing a tractor or combine when it's a beautiful,sunny, dry day.
Ensure that you're prepared, that you have enough seed, diesel and operating equipment and services in order to execute.
And then, most importantly, employing the right people. With a great team of people you can achieve much more than you ever thought possible. When you have a workforce that shares your passion for the farming industry, enable and empower them to take ownership of the job their executing.
You can be as prepared as you can be, with the latest and greatest equipment out there - if you do not have the right people running it for you and executing tasks, your running a great risk of failure.
Invest in a good workforce - this will be your greatest asset!
3. Do you thinks it's possible to farm at the scale your operating at and stay true to the principles of organic agriculture? What are the benefits of scaling your farming operation?
There are a number of environmental benefits to organic farming, the first one being that glyphosate isn't used in any way shape or form, there's less tillage and you invest more time and energy in soil health, but the the number one benefit of organic farming at Organics Canada has been the fact that the money we're saving by not purchasing Round Up or fertilizer can now be spent on employing people.
An organic farm might require two to three times the work force a conventional farm requires, but the benefits far outweigh the financial factors.
Employing more people, means just that - you're investing in people. Your investing in an economy by creating employment, you're bringing people back to small towns and rural areas, wives are getting involved in local churches , organisations and businesses. Kids are filling up schools and baseball teams.
Employing more people impacts a whole community!
Another benefit of scaling is the fact that you increase your green manure and decrease tillage.
It justifies bigger and more expensive purchases and it also justifies paying for innovation. There's an opportunity to partner with others.
But perhaps the greatest benefit of scaling is the opportunity to sell directly to a consumer. The opportunity to connect with other farmers, partnering together and supplying farm direct produce to the end user.