On Tuesday of this week the province celebrated Agriculture Awareness Day in a virtual format welcoming guests from around the world to recognize the contribution of agriculture to the province of Manitoba and to the world. In 2005 Manitoba established Agriculture Awareness Day and in 2014 this was formally set in legislation making the recognition day an annual event on the third Tuesday in March.
There are many awareness days that are recognized annually in Manitoba. They draw attention to groups or activities for their significant contribution to the province or because they may not otherwise get the attention that is deserved. Agriculture and farming is both well understood and appreciated by most Manitobans. But the nature of farming has changed dramatically over the history of Manitoba. Where once farming operations were much smaller with little technology involved, the modern farm is now much larger with very advanced and sophisticated equipment. This allows for greater production, but it also means that fewer people actually work on the farm as a proportion of the population of Manitoba.
This loss of personal connection to food production is part of the reason that Agriculture Awareness Day and Open Farm Day in Manitoba (usually held in the fall) are so important. It allows many Manitobans who neither have a direct or indirect connection to agriculture to learn about its importance to Manitoba and to thank and acknowledge those who are in the sector. And while it is important that we continue to recognize its importance to Manitoba, our agriculture sector is something that the rest of the world has taken notice of. In my role as Deputy Premier of Manitoba I have many opportunities to have conversations with representatives of countries from around the world and the most frequent request they have is to learn more about Manitoba agriculture. It is one of the reasons our farm exports are valued in so many countries.
This year Agriculture Awareness Day focused on protein innovation and emerging agricultural technologies. Manitoba has become a leader in protein development and in early 2020 created the Manitoba Protein Consortium to help give leadership in this important aspect of the agriculture sector. Guests from as far away as the Netherlands joined in the virtual event to share ideas and innovations in Agriculture. We look forward to being able to host an in-person event in 2022.
Agriculture has changed dramatically since Manitoba’s earliest days as a province. And while much has changed on the farm, its overall importance to our province has not. It remains a key part of the economic success of Manitoba and it is important to have various days of recognition and awareness to honour those who continue to feed local residents as well as people around the world.