Barry and Donna's farm is a new addition to FarmFood360°
By Diego Flammini
A family farm in south-central Ontario is one of the latest additions to a library of virtual industry tours.
Barry and Donna's (full name withheld by request) chicken farm, which includes between 26,000 and 28,000 broilers, is one of three operations added to Farm & Food Care Ontario’s FarmFood360° website.
The other new farms include a turkey and beef operation. In total, the site has 18 Ontario farm and food processing tours available.
The tour of the family farm includes videos on caring for chickens, how farmers give back to their communities and how the couple got into chicken farming after raising cattle.
Farmers are the only ones who can tell the truth about what happens on a farm. They should view opportunities like participating in virtual tours as a way to communicate with consumers, Donna said.
“It’s important for people to get the right story and the right facts,” she told Farms.com. “There’s so much out there being said and assumed that’s just simply not correct.”
Consumers today want to know where their food comes from and the COVID-19 pandemic heightened that desire for knowledge.
But consumers see or hear about food production practices that may take place elsewhere and believe Canadian farmers operate the same way.
That’s not the case, she said.
“People believe the broiler chickens are all in cages, kept in the dark or that we force feed them,” she said. “These are all things that are incorrect, but receive a lot of attention.”
In Canada, chicken farmers must adhere to Chicken Farmers of Canada’s Animal Care Program.
This program uses one national standard to ensure consistency for all 2,800 chicken farms across the country.
“We know the regulations we have to follow,” she said. “Farmers know about the protocols and programs that are in place, but consumers generally don’t.”
And it can be tough for consumers to sort through the available information, she added.
“Social media is a good thing and a bad thing,” she said. “Misinformation can explode and that’s what people pick up on. I also think we need some of our national media organizations to not only cover more agriculture, but to highlight the things that are going right, not just what’s gone wrong.”