LETHBRIDGE – Southern Alberta isn’t immune from what Shannon Frank calls a “global implosion of trust.” And the executive director of the Oldman Watershed Council says farmers and consumers need to talk face-to-face to rebuild that trust and solve problems.
Frank was one of the presenters Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Farming Smarter conference at Lethbridge Exhibition Park. Speaking on the topic “Sowing Fields of Public Trust,” she explained farmers can help put people’s fears to rest about topics like the safety of genetically-modified crops and pesticides.
“We know from a lot of the science that those things are safe if done properly, and that some of the real issues are nutrients and bacteria,” she said in an interview. “So we need to talk about where do those things come from? They come from cities and from farms. There is no single source that’s a big problem. It comes from all of us.”
Another topic she cited was water usage and irrigation. Frank said many people may not even know what an irrigation pivot is, or how it works, or whether producers are using too much water.
“(Farmers) can say, if I don’t water 24 hours a day, the pivot doesn’t make its way around the whole field. I know I can’t water half of a field. And people don’t think about that. They don’t know how slow those pivots need to move.”
Frank said the Oldman Watershed Council, as an independent body with broad representation, can be a credible source of information, backed by science, and point people to other sources as well.
“It’s about ensuring that we all know that we all have an impact and that we all have to do our part to be the solution, and not point fingers and not focus on the blame or the problem, but focus on what we can do as problem solvers.”
Around 300 people were expected to take in the conference.
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