For many rural people the name Paul Harvey brings back memories of a storyteller like no other. His famous tagline of “and now the rest of the story” is still recognizable to millions of people throughout North America. Mr. Harvey, who captivated millions of listeners for nearly six decades with his homespun radio news reports and conservative commentaries, passed away in 2009 at the age of 90 but his words will live on forever. It’s clear that the inspiration for Paul Harvey’s timeless commentary came from being raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the heart of the American agriculture.
In what is considered his most inspirational address, he reminded us of the enormous commitment farmers make to our society. In 1978, Paul Harvey recorded his “So God made a farmer” address, which was about the sacrifice, hard work and compassion it takes to be part of agriculture. He opens the commentary by saying “And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker. So God made a farmer.”
As you drive through rural Alberta at this time of year you can’t help but notice how the fields that line the highways come to life with the activity of the caretakers who grow the food we eat. This activity is not only important to our food supply, it is also very important to the economic and social well-being of Alberta.
As Alberta’s largest and most dynamic renewable resource, agriculture has become even more important as demand for our food products increases. Alberta farmers have the expertise to supply a range of safe, high-quality food products into domestic and world markets at competitive prices. Those markets are expanding as the world population increases and as more countries develop the ability to improve their standard of living, which includes safe and reliable food products.
In order to have a competitive agricultural sector it must be built around the actions of individual producers left free to decide what they produce and where and when they want to sell it, free of arbitrary social licensing. Government’s role should be to provide a positive business environment, to remove artificial barriers, and to administer proper regulations in a fair and equitable manner.
The role agriculture plays, even in a modern society, is as much about culture as it is about producing the food on our tables. It’s about the rural values that have been carried on for generations throughout farming communities around the world. But mostly, it’s about an honourable and necessary profession that people commit their lives to; that’s what Paul Harvey saw in the many farmers that were such an essential part of the community he grew up in.
As Alberta farmers tend to the laundry list of duties and responsibilities that we rely on for our health and well being in Alberta, we need to be grateful that God made a farmer. And that’s the rest of the story!