Who I am: A fourth generation farmer, Stephen farms with his father and brother near Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada. Their farm operation includes 9,000 acres dry land and 1,500 acres of irrigation growing canola, mustard, malt barley, durum, wheat, seed canola and export timothy. Stephen is the current Alberta Vice President of The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, past President of Grain Growers of Canada and past Vice Chair of the Alberta Winter Wheat Producers Commission.
Why I think Ag is Where It’s At: Agriculture is continually changing. There’s a lot of worry about farmers getting older and who is going to farm this land. But the land will always get farmed. While Canadian farms are being managed by less than two per cent of the population, it’s because today’s farmer is more efficient and is a very good steward of the land. Their job is to leave the land better off each year they manage it. Farming is an experience and the spiritual connection we all feel towards it sometimes is difficult to explain. But what I can tell you is that I’m proud to be part of a new farming generation that will ensure agriculture remains a sustainable industry.
Why Ag for Life: Vandervalk’s passion is to tell the story of what farming is really like in today’s global economy. It’s really important to explain where food comes from, and how it’s produced. However there is a critical message to tell agriculture’s environmental and sustainable story. There is a general belief out there that farmers are basically mining the land. But thanks to new farming practices and producer awareness, agriculture has a great sustainability story to tell. The wide-ranging industries that are represented by Ag for Life will help us make a difference in collectively telling this story.