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Rural revival? Why people may turn to the agriculture sector for jobs

By: Kara Oosterhuis

March 24, 2020

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If you’ve scrolled through all the COVID-19 posts on social media, you’ve probably seen an interesting trend of farmers encouraging people who have lost work outside of the industry to consider working on a farm.

Greg Stamp of Stamp Seeds at Enchant, Alta., is one of those farmers that reached out to the world of social media to attract more to the industry.

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Although it takes time to teach people how the agriculture industry works, and how to operate machinery safely, Stamp says it is really worth it as long as you have a positive attitude.

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“Once we saw that people had jobs kind of slowing down, or laid off, or temporary closure, all of a sudden that’s when people start looking outside their normal job hunting areas. Maybe the agriculture sector is something that they had never really thought of. And this might force them to look outside their normal or types of work they are used to,” he explains. “A lot of people in other sectors have skills that can crossover. And really, it’s not even fully a skills thing. It’s mainly just a personality thing — if you have a good attitude, and are a quick learner, you can train anyone.”

Stamp adds that although oftentimes the positions that are available to those outside the sector are entry-level jobs, there is always plenty of room to move up and gain more experience.

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“We do need some people more on the entry-level side, but as well we are also looking for people that are more on the seed sales, seed cleaning management. Stuff like that. So it’s all levels of skills, experience, and capabilities. Starting out, to middle management, really.”

The ask for more employees is for risk management as well, just in case anyone were to start not feeling well, but as Stamp also notes, they are taking extra precautions on the seed farm to ensure employees are protected.

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Safety is also a key, but many businesses, including Stamp Seeds, have taken the measures to ensure anyone new joining the company will get the proper time and training required.

But the real question is —  how do we get people to realize the importance of agriculture, and what immense opportunities the industry can bring long-term? Stamp says we need to continue to educate those outside the industry — so taking the time and effort to bring in the at-first inexperienced, could end up being more valuable than we know.

“I think people don’t always realize how dynamic this sector is. People sometimes have a bit of a view of mom-pop shop agriculture, or the barn with a few cows and all that. But in reality, farming and agriculture has become more of a professional operation and business than it has been in the past, and I don’t think people realize the opportunities that are in agriculture starting, and even moving up. So if we can show that a little bit, we can attract more people.”

Check out the full interview with Greg Stamp and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below:

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