The message said farming affects oceans and chemicals hurt habitats
By Diego Flammini
A Saskatchewan school division has issued an apology to farmers after a sign on one of its schools had a disparaging message about agriculture.
Sun West School Division published the apology on May 26, a day after a billboard at Outlook Elementary School read “Farming affects oceans. Chemicals hurt habitats & species. They also decr (decrease) oxygen levels.”
Farmers and citizens voiced their concerns with the message on social media.
“What a joke and complete slap in the face,” Ashlin Kendall-Mann posted on Facebook. “Go a day without eating or drinking anything that came from a farm. We should be thanking farmers not allowing messages like this to be posted.”
The school acknowledged on its Facebook page that the message was “unfair to the agricultural industry, and we understand why many people, especially those whose livelihood comes from farming, found it offensive.”
The sign has also been changed to read a quote attributed to US President George Washington.
Agriculture is “the most useful & noble employment of man,” the sign says.
But despite the apology and the changed sign, some farmers are still upset by the original message.
Producers work hard to care for the environment and raise food for communities. A sign saying agriculture harms the environment is personal, said Miles Lund, a grain producer from Weyburn, Sask.
“It’s a kick to the teeth of all the hardworking farmers and people working in the agriculture industry in the community,” he told Farms.com. “It sucks that people think that way, and people are entitled to their opinions, but the truth is farmers are well-trained and we know what we’re doing.”
And just because the school issued an apology doesn’t mean the issue is over.
The ag community should use this as an opportunity to educate every day Canadians about agriculture and how farmers tend to their resources.
“This is a teaching moment,” he said. “Instead of punishing people for their opinions, we need to make sure people know why farmers are doing what they’re doing, to ask questions and to reach out to a local farmer for answers.”
If you have an opportunity to teach consumers on social media, you can try using the hashtags #FarmerFeedCities or #AgEducation.