September 20, 2022 Message to the Membership

Posted on September 20, 2022 in

September 20, 2022 Message to the Membership

There’s something about the harvest season that gets me excited. Even though I haven’t actively farmed in decades, and my last agricultural venture ended with a thud thanks to the drought of 1988 – the driest year on record since the Dirty ‘30s, I might add – seeing the millions upon millions of acres (sorry, but I’ll never be a hectares guy) across our province being transformed from standing crops in a field to grain in a bin is a marvel that really must be understood to appreciate. 

To the city folk, there usually is little to no comprehension of the work that goes into this three- to four-week (usually) grind. And there’s nothing wrong with that. People just don’t know what they don’t know. But for those of us who do have an inkling, it’s a special time of year. 

Especially when it’s a year like this one, where good portions of the province are seeing better than average yields. And for some of them, it’s a much better than average yield. And even though the commodity prices are down fairly significantly from their heady days of earlier this spring, there still will be pretty good revenues generated for many of our friends on the farm.  

Unfortunately, it’s not universal as the rainfall was quite spotty across the province, meaning some of the drier producers are looking forlornly at their neighbours who got better moisture. But it wouldn’t be farming if there wasn’t something to look forward to next year. 

I raise this because it’s important to note how agriculture affects our provincial economy. Again, I find it mind-boggling that some people don’t correlate this into how it affects their own business, but to say a good agricultural year is a significant bump to our economy is to say consumers noticed a wee bit of inflationary pressure these past few months.  

And why I want the agricultural economy raised is because it’s the Food part of our contribution to the world. Next up is the Fuel part. Even though fossil fuels are mainly on the defensive around the world, the fact of the matter is that the world still needs them.  

As the world becomes greener, demand for fossil fuels is actually increasing, which catches people off guard. Even Elon Musk, the world’s saviour when it comes to greening the economy, has stated that fossil fuels will be necessary for some time to come as the world transitions to a greener economy.  

And that’s because the world’s demand for energy is outpacing its conversion to green energy. You see, making the windmills, solar panels, batteries et al takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of mining and it takes a lot of fossil fuels. Ironically, it also takes baseload power, which in our part of the world, means fossil fuels. (Do you see the circular reference here??) That’s largely why fossil fuels will be around for my lifetime, and more than likely, my children’s and even my grandchildren’s. 

Saskatchewan, aside from having more than 40% of Canada’s arable land, is the second-largest oil producing province in the country. Adding even more fuel to the fire (did you see what I did there?) is our world-leading uranium industry, which of course is the fuel source for nuclear power plants. So we’ve got the fuel of today, as well as the fuel of the future, which means that we have a very positive outlook on not only two fronts within the fuel side of the equation, but on two sides of the ‘F’(ing??) economy. 

But wait, did I say two fronts? I meant to say three, because the third F is Fertilizer. This is almost as plentiful as our crops, as it’s beneath the surface of the better part of our grain belt. And it’s being mined by world-class companies, including Nutrien, the world’s largest potash producer, Mosaic, K + S, and soon to be joined by the world’s largest mining company, BHP.  

And aside from the potash that is being mined here, we now have phosphate plants being developed in Saskatchewan. Perhaps they’ll soon be as plentiful as the scads of canola crushing plants we now have popping up across our province. Indeed, we’ve turned the corner on value adding, a concept that was largely ignored for the better part of my adult life.  

I raise all of this because I think it’s worthwhile to note these positive things on our horizon. We’ll be hearing more and more about inflation, about rising interest rates, about supply chain issues, about labour shortages, about geopolitical strife. Almost anything and everything is being challenged, and we’re certainly not immune to it here in Saskatchewan. 

But would you rather be anyplace else? I know I wouldn’t.  

Except maybe on a combine under the harvest moon. Or sitting on a tailgate holding a warm plate filled with a delicious home made meal – complete with farm fresh veggies – soon to be replaced by one with a (fresh) fruit pie, that’s been wrapped in a tea towel or three to keep warm.  

Aaaahhh, harvest. Everyone should be fortunate enough to experience it. 

Until next time, be safe, be smart, be considerate, be well, but most of all, be kind. 

Keith Moen 

Executive Director 

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