Amidst challenges posed by weather vagaries and escalating expenses, Ken Forth sheds light on the resilience of Canadian farmers, as they prepare for a fresh start in 2024. Photo Credit: F.A.R.M.S. website
While the 2023 Canadian growing season has come and gone, farmers and leaders in the agricultural sector are taking stock of the season and making preparations for the coming year. Ken Forth currently serves as the President of the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Service, a program that facilitates temporary migrant workers from Mexico and the Caribbean being employed in Canada.
“It was a weird year for outdoor guys,” Forth shared in a recent sit-down with The Niagara Independent. “It was really wet, not particularly warm at times, either… but it ended up not going too badly, all things considered,”
When the calendar transitions to 2024 in less than a month, it will be mere weeks, if not days, before temporary migrant workers return from their off-season to begin ramping up for the new campaign. “The guys coming back in January will be working in the greenhouses,” said Forth. “As we move out of winter and into spring, of course, they’ll gradually transition to working outside, as well.”
In addition to excessive rain, a seasonal variable, Forth says that two other factors worked against the farming community in 2023. “The cost of everything, from fertilizer to seeds, to import costs in general… everything is higher,” he explained. “Everything keeps moving, but it’s a real challenge for our operations,” he continued. “The other issue was the smoke… Ontario wasn’t as bad as other locations (that were closer to the wildfires), but it did delay crops a bit.”
Forth also took some time to reflect on the pandemic years, which he says the farming community is pleased to have behind it. “It was a really tough time for everyone, but particularly for small business,” he shared. “We, specifically, were able to continue farming, but it was a different day than today… we never want to see it again.”
In anticipation of 2024, Forth listed the key ingredients that will make for a stellar growing season. “At the end of the day, you need a good balance of rain and sun, as well as a general avoidance of temperature extremes,” he said. “Give us that, and we can grow you as much food as you want!”
Nick Redekop completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Labour Studies at Brock University. He has previously served in municipal and federal politics. In his free time, Nick enjoys following sports, taking part in outdoor activities, and reading biographies. Nick resides in Niagara Falls