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Chronicles / Between us

Agronomists: Cornerstones of the Next Farming Revolution

La Coop fédérée first saw the light in 1922. It will soon be 100 years old. One century!  Since the very beginning, its role has been to serve its owners – agricultural producers – who gathered together to provide themselves with tools, goods and services that met their needs. The work accomplished by La Coop fédérée’s agronomists is part of the services we provide members of our network. Their role is always essential.

Along with my spouse, son and brother, we operate a poultry farm and grow crops in the area of Saint-Guillaume. We need agronomists. Their expertise and their advice contribute to the success of our business. But their role doesn’t stop at the farm. Agronomists will be at the heart of the next agricultural revolution in the era of digital agriculture. A revolution that will affect the entire food value chain and allow us to go from an intensive agriculture to, among other things, an ecologically intensive agriculture.

Consumers are king, they are very demanding, and we need to meet their expectations. The inversion of this value chain, which began almost 20 years ago, is now complete, and we need to adapt. 

Modern agriculture is faced with this challenge, agronomist and agricultural entrepreneur must stand together to respond to today’s consumer concerns and expectations (quality, price, health, hygiene and social responsibility). Failing which, we will be at risk of losing our relevance as well as our markets.

You’ll certainly agree that our sector has been at the center of a media storm over the past few weeks, or even the past few months. We are the subject of expeditious, often groundless, judgement. Agricultural producers and agronomists don’t deserve this kind of treatment. Just like the society in which it is evolving, our sector is more and more divided on the issues, it is polarised in terms of our agricultural models. We all need to be better and constantly review our practices, but there is a margin, a chasm, between comprehension and condemnation. This division is unproductive. We must stand together. We also need to make sure that agronomists are taken into consideration by consumers and farmers alike, and perceived as the guardian of their interests, a reference in terms of best practices, a facilitator.

Overall, an agronomist needs to be perceived as a stakeholder in a larger purpose: that of helping to feed the world.

Sadly, agribashing (defaming agriculture), a practice used by various lobbies and media, as well as its consequences, lead to social fracture. We need to know how to work together and talk with our communities!

Our position, at La Coop fédérée, is that all types of agriculture, whether it be niche, organic, proximity or traditional agriculture, is required to respond to everyone’s expectations and meet the challenge of feeding an ever-increasing population in weather conditions that are more and more volatile.

I am opposed to the vision, which many advocate, that there is a good and a bad agriculture. In my opinion, agriculture, regardless of the type, is there to respond to the different consumer expectations. And if traditional agriculture must improve its environmental imprint, organic, niche or proximity agriculture will have to improve their productivity to meet growing demand.

There are less and less producers with more and more people to feed. In this respect, the high level and varied expertise provided by agronomists is significant for our sector to remain competitive.

I also oppose the vision stating that there are two types of agronomists. Quebec’s professional order has been representing them since 1937. The role of agronomist has since adapted to every single trend, and always displayed the same level of integrity and professionalism.

New issues are developing in the agri-food sector. Just think about the world’s rising food requirements, which are in constant evolution. These issues will once again alter the very nature of the agronomist’s role and their commitment. And as they have done so many times before, they will answer the call. 

Consumers need us, agricultural producers, and they need agronomists to better understand agriculture and make enlightened decisions.

Let’s be proud of our agriculture!

Ghislain Gervais - président

ghislain.gervais@lacoop.coop