A Farm Labour Story

September 4, 2020 | Ed Scharringa

A Farm Labour Story

I’ve been a producer of food and garden products for 35 years. Our start-up years were rather simple. We hired some students and part-time locals who wanted some extra work. As business grew, we found ourselves always searching for seasonal workers because we couldn’t offer year-round work.

As a result, we looked at the Temporary? Foreign Workers Program to fill our seasonal labour requirement. After much paperwork and set-up, we welcomed our first three workers from Mexico. What an experience. We all learned much about each other. It was as if a new family had joined our farm family.

Fast forward to today. We now have many more workers who have joined our farm crew. They come for a reason: They have families back home who rely on them to make a better income here than they could ever imagine back home, so that their family can enjoy some of the things we take for granted. Our workers are our family, and they are a valued and vital part of our daily work to get food to table.

Where would today’s population get a major part of our food source without the aid of seasonal workers?

We are in a pandemic. Everyone is on edge. Farmers are on edge, trying to follow protocols that will keep workers safe.

It’s disheartening to see so much bad publicity about what’s happening on our farms. Of course, we all know every sector has rule breakers and bad actors. But let’s understand one thing: the vast majority of farmers care about their workers. Farming is at best difficult; accusations that farmers are victimizing their workers is harmful and hurtful.

Change may be needed. That’s always ongoing, but let the true story be told of many good, loving considerate and compassionate farmers are out there managing, growing, producing and caring for workers on a day-to-day basis.

May God continue to be with our families, workers and farm operations as we grow for others.

Ed Scharringa is President of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.