STRATEGIES FOR THE GAME OF LIFE
MANAGING RISK AND OPPORTUNITY
BY LISA SKIERKA
Working in agriculture can feel like a cross between playing The Game of Life, The Settlers of Catan and The Farming Game (with a little poker thrown in for fun). No matter how well you plan or how good your strategy is, sometimes the cards just don’t go your way.
In The Farming Game, your fortunes can decline in a moment based on picking up a bad “Farmer’s Fate” card, mimicking the trials of real life when the weather turns or the combine breaks down. In comparison, a game like The Settlers of Catan seems more strategy-based to start with, allowing for good planning as you build roads and settlements to key ports and raw materials. But if the dice are against you, even the best strategy won’t win the game.
The good news is that, in real life, multiple strategies are at play—meaning we aren’t always pawns on a chessboard. We are real players with real opportunities. Which means that, if we play our cards right, we can limit risk while also seeking out new prospects. And that’s the best analogy I have for talking about the importance of international trade to Canadian agriculture.
In the past year alone, the Government of Canada has announced two game-changing trade agreements: the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement. Canada is an active participant in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations while also monitoring the largely stalled World Trade Organization talks and actively engaging in trade discussions with many other nations.
This focused and committed trade agenda is good news for Canadian farmers and for agri-business.
By cementing deals with strong world economies in Europe, Asia and along the Pacific corridor, we are guaranteeing demand for top-quality Canadian agriculture products for years to come. This means a more stable economy, and a better future for all Canadians. It also means countless more jobs in key sectors from agriculture and food service to information technology and medical life sciences.
As Canadians, we are able to manage risk by ensuring there are always markets that want access to our agricultural products, which makes good sense in a board game and even better sense in real life. Our strong trade agenda is also good news in terms of sustainability and social responsibility.
We hear a lot about how Canada is one of the few countries in the world that can produce more food than we will consume. We hear about our responsibility to feed the rest of the world. And of course we know all about the responsibilities we have to our own families and communities.
The reason I’m proud of Canada’s pro- active trade agenda is because our foreign policy is balanced around the globe. From Colombia, Morocco and Honduras to Ja- pan, China and the U.S., we are building a sustainable world economy through open trade. Our prerequisite for doing business is not a high GDP, but rather a nation’s openness to build its economy through strong partnerships. In building these relationships, we are working to build a world that allows people in developing regions to be part of a strong and dynamic global economy. And we are also investing in building strong democracies.
As Canadians, we also benefit socially through engaging these nations in build- ing their infrastructure and quality of life.
The world really is shrinking, and—al- though we will continue to celebrate local food—the reality is that sometimes we want to eat nectarines from Costa Rica in December and kiwis from New Zealand in March. It also means that nations we trade with can buy Canadian wheat and barley in the fall and winter, and then turn around and buy from Australia in the spring and summer when Canadian stocks are getting low. It’s just good business.