Getting to know Canadian Producers- Shelby LaRose
Shelby LaRose is from Kipling, a small town in southeast Saskatchewan. Shelby is a fifth-generation farmer. Her family has been farming in the area for roughly 100 years. She farms with her parents, Jeff and Michelle, along with her siblings, Levi and Tara-Lee.
“As a producer, we are very proud that what we grow is feeding Canadian families. Safe and high-quality food is our top priority,” says Shelby, adding “We eat what we grow, too.”
At this time of year, a typical day-to-day farm operation includes hauling grain to elevators. With elevators and processors looking for grain, this is the ideal time for hauling. Farmers like Shelby also begin to plan for seeding. This planning includes bringing in inputs, such as fertilizer and seed, and making sure all pieces of equipment are ready to go.
As Shelby puts it, there is a perception that grain farmers have winters off but, “Instead of looking after cattle, [we] are looking after grain bins.”
Feeding families, feeding Canadians
While they manage a grain operation, many members of her family have other jobs off the farm. For example, Shelby manages over 50 retailers in Alberta and Saskatchewan for Loveland Products Canada.
Extra income is important for many farmers – unless they manage a large farm, it can be hard to make ends meet. Some have a permanent position, like Shelby, while others have side jobs that keep them busy and provide another source of income. Some of the side projects can be hauling grain for others, making furniture or launching an apparel business, for example. These additional profits often go back into the farm or support the farmer’s family.
New challenges to consider
Many government regulations that aren’t necessarily related to agriculture still affect farmers. Shelby points out a perfect example: the carbon tax. This federal regulation is an additional cost that small farmers need to account for during the year.
“For smaller producers, these taxes can be detrimental when they are trying to make ends meet,” Shelby explains.
Supporting women in agriculture
Shelby graduated with a bachelor of science in agronomy from the University of Saskatchewan. She is very passionate about supporting women who work in agriculture. She is on the board of directors for Saskatchewan Women in Agriculture, a group she’s been a part of since 2016. Saskatchewan Women in Agriculture provides a platform to support women in the sector and to involve them in educational, career and networking opportunities.
“This forum helps to draw attention to the fact that many women are advancing in education, experience and knowledge,” explains Shelby. “It’s important we do more to ensure their knowledge is shared and recognized.”
Farmwork to Feed Canada (F2FC) is a national volunteer not-for-profit initiative by Canadian communication professionals, students, and recent graduates in communications. F2FC collaborates with farmers, and agri-businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges to Canada’s food supply and food security, to engage Canadians, pro bono, with compelling stories about their food system and build support for Canada’s farmers, food producers, and their essential skilled workers.