I have a quiz for non-farmers. Do you know the cost of a new combine? How does a farmer keep the land fertile? Where does bio-technology fit in? Do you know how specialists breed crops to protect them from damage? And have you ever asked yourself how the keepers of the land - our farmers, and agricultural specialists - have met the challenge of supplying food for the earth's mushrooming population?
You can be forgiven for not knowing the answers. Most of us take the land for granted. Yet it's crucial to our survival.
Here are some startling statistics: In the past three and a half decades, worldwide wheat and rice production has more than doubled. Corn/maize has tripled. Oilseed crops have increased over five-fold. And all from the same amount of land. I find that amazing.
Beginning right here at home on the prairies, I believe everyone should have a basic knowledge of how our grain farmers nurture and manage our land in ways that sustain a still-growing population.
A unique and important non-profit project in development in our riding will soon tell visitors the story of modern crop production in western Canada. The world-class, year-round Western Canadian Crop Technology Interpretive Centre (WCIC) will sit on the outskirts of Yorkton, on the grounds of the Tourism Yorkton Visitor Information Centre/Yorkton Chamber of Commerce building. To visitors of all ages, from both city and country, it will demonstrate and explain the production and marketing strategies of today's Western Canadian farmers.
The days are long gone when a good farmer needed only to know how to plant and how to harvest. Every successful farmer today must also be a savvy businessperson. Visitors will also learn about farming as a business, and be able to explore various themes, including rotating crop displays.
This important centre has another aim-to demonstrate to visitors why they can be confident that the food that reaches their tables is safe and wholesome, and that sound environmental practices have contributed to producing it.
Plans for WCIC include 6,000 square feet of display space, a lecture theatre and office space. As a bonus to the area, it will also provide educational, tourism and economic benefits to the community.
Just as in agriculture, growing a good thing takes time. Jim Gorman, board member and one of the project's organizers, says, "This will be a two to three year project."
The Government is pleased to support this world-class centre, and eager for WCIC to be included in every tourist's travel plan.
The Centre has detailed many ways for people to become involved in its completion. To discover more, go to www.westerncropcentre.ca or call WCIC board chairperson Tom Weir, at 621-1808.
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