“I Don’t Think I Chose Farming As Much As Farming Chose Me”
When he was young, Eric Dyck was pretty sure about one thing: “I wanted nothing to do with our family’s farm.” But over time, his attitude changed. In particular, while spending a year in Alaska as an athletic coordinator, Eric’s thoughts grew increasingly fixated on farming back home.
Now he has been officially managing the family farm in Springstein, Manitoba, Canada for seven years. Spanning 2500 acres, Eric grows wheat, oats, canola, soybean and other crops. “I don’t think I chose farming as much as farming chose me,” he says with a smile.
That farming chose him radiates in his words and facial expression. When asked what drives him, he answers not only ensuring profitability but also being a good steward of the land. “Every day, I can learn something new from my neighbors, chemical representatives, online or even just by trial and error.” That is one reason why Eric’s connection to the family business grew into a personal passion. But the main reason for loving his profession is that he can share farming with others: “I can share it with my family and I’m happy that my wife has taken an active interest in farming,” he says.
Eric’s farm has experienced significant growth over the last five years. “We went from 1500 acres to 2500 acres. With the farm being that big, I left my job as an area marketing representative for a local grain company to work full time on the farm.” But while the farm continues to grow, Eric’s family has had to handle a big loss. “In July last year, we lost my 58-year-old father very suddenly to a heart attack. That’s where our biggest change has been, namely managing the repercussions that event has had on our business and family. We still struggle with those today,” he concludes. Eric´s father is missing on the farm, also as a teacher: "I co-managed the farm with my dad. We shared the work and although I have a formal education and retail experience some of my most valuable lessons came from him."
The impact of a loss of a father also shows that farming is still a family business in many ways. Even if a farm operation grows, incorporating more machinery and technical innovations, the family and the knowledge transferred from generation to generation remain the stabilizing forces in the farming business.
Eric’s wife Sandra and his mother Susan support the daily operations of the farm. Together, the family faces several challenges: General ones, such as policy and legislative changes, but also seasonal ones such as predicting market trends and finding educated and knowledgeable people to work on the farm. “It’s hard finding a person who is willing to shovel grain, gather eggs and cut grass as well as manage one or two aspects of our operation. That’s one of our key goals for the future: to retain hardworking and competent employees.”
“We have many different enterprises in our operation. When we make a plan for our farm, we need to consider every aspect to ensure we are using our incoming and outgoing resources efficiently,” he explains. Like a business analyst, Eric carefully evaluates the profitability of each aspect of the operation.
It’s people like Eric and his family that show how farming can be so diverse, operating almost like a holding company with different enterprises, but at the same time, one that remains a family-driven business.