Farming 4.0: How agriculture is being transformed for the future
A fourth agricultural revolution is underway, and Canada needs to seize it. The Internet of Farming, powered by advanced technologies like autonomous tractors and drone-mounted sensors, is already transforming the way we produce food. But this new generation of agriculture will take a new generation of skills, too. Canada is poised to meet that challenge. No other country has as much land, water or market access — or the education system to develop farmers and food producers who can thrive in a hyper-connected, data-driven economy. And yet our share of global exports is falling and productivity of our farms stalling. It could get worse, as a historic retirement wave begins and young Canadians show few signs of filling the gap. It’s more than an economic imperative. Our food security is at stake, as is our chance to feed the world in more sustainable ways. Recently RBC analyzed labour-force data, sector trends and innovations in other countries. They also spoke to farmers, educators and agriculture authorities across Canada, to understand what a new skills agenda could look like. They concluded that with the right mix of skills, capital and technology, agriculture could add $11 billion to Canada’s GDP by 2030. To get there however, we would need to rethink our approach to education, both for agriculture and the growing range of sectors that affect it; do more to attract young people to farming; and invest in the skills needed to attract a growing immigrant population to the sector.
Farmers for Free Trade is a US non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about the benefits of free trade, and mobilizing farmers and ranchers to take action to support beneficial trade agreements that expand export opportunities. American farmers, ranchers and consumers benefit greatly from free trade. The food they export, and the other agricultural products they ship to other countries support over 1,000,000 U.S. jobs. 20% of American farm revenue comes from exports. Farmers for Free Trade is committed to amplifying the voices of millions of American farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses that want to open new markets for our products, simplify the way we do business and, most importantly, reduce risk and uncertainty. Angela will also be talking about the need for new partners and strategies and how to leverage them in these interesting times.
Olds College was established in 1913 as an education and training institution and demonstration farm where producers received hands-on learning and exposure to the latest agriculture practices, equipment, and technologies. While much has changed over the past century, Olds College continues to embrace this model of practical, hands-on technical education and demonstration, where over 3,800 students learn by doing. To this day, virtually every program has some element of practical hands-on experience, which makes Olds College unique and helps prepare our students for successful careers in the real world. Patrick will speak to the Olds College Smart Farm, which is essentially a giant lab that provides the agriculture sector a venue for commercial scale applied research and is a cutting-edge learning environment for students, producers and the agriculture sector.
Moderator: Trevor Lewington, EDA Board Member
Introductory Remarks: Dave Hunka, FortisAlberta
Panelists: Kevin Zimmel, RBC Financial Services; Angela Marshall Hofmann, Farmers for Free Trade; Patrick Machacek, Olds College