2018 has arrived, a toddling new year with all the potential in the world heaped up like a snowbank. The baggage of last year has unfortunately arrived with it, like tweets goading North Korea and all the to-dos you had on the other side of that midnight countdown. But like any fresh start, those old worries don’t necessarily have to define us.
We’re all aware that most New Year’s resolutions have about as much longevity as the month of January. I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with a resolution I set at the beginning of the year. Heck, my number one resolution was to get stuff done on time and here I am writing a blog post on resolutions 3 weeks into the new year!
Despite their reputation and my own experience, I consider resolutions to be a good practice, because they’re excellent tools for self-reflection. If you leave all of last year’s problems behind, what could you accomplish? What do you want from the 365 days (er..348) ahead of you? What has to change to make your dreams possible?
It occured to me that this might be a good practice for our industry. If modern agriculture got a blank slate and reset our goals, what might we all accomplish this year? If we all directed our energy and talents at a few goals for Canadian agriculture together, what would be the outcome? What do we want for the people that make up this industry, and its customers?
In nearly every profile I helped edit last year, the women profiled identified agriculture’s relationship with consumers as “the most important topic in agriculture right now”. If that’s the most pressing topic, what do we need to ask ourselves? I think the questions are: what have we already tried? What’s working? What’s not working? What can we do differently?
The second resolution I’d suggest is that we become a more inclusive industry. That’s a big, multi-faceted goal, but a worthy one in my eyes because not only does everyone deserve to be treated well, but it will make agriculture stronger and more resilient. Maybe we should ask ourselves: who is missing from our businesses and activities? Who haven’t we heard from? Why aren’t they here or why aren’t they willing to speak up in this space?
Like any resolution, we won’t get different results if we keep doing the same things. So what can we do to change it up? For both these resolutions, my suggestion is that we all take every opportunity to go somewhere new and experience what someone else’s reality is like. Take a 4-H club to a city for a day. Grocery shop in a different neighbourhood. Travel across the globe. Join a new group or board. Follow someone totally different on social media. Have conversations in the coffee line. Do anything to learn more about someone else’s concerns and worries. My guess is that if we try that, we will get closer to understanding consumers AND we’ll find out what will make our industry more inclusive. No, it’s not going to fix everything, but if we never set goals for ourselves, we aren’t aiming at anything.
So, what are your goals for agriculture in 2018?