Tractor tour looks to spread awareness of farm issues in Canada

John Varty's Tractor tour arrives in Revelstoke on cross-country tour spreading awareness of farm issues in Canada.

It’s not everyday that you see a tractor parked in downtown Revelstoke, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that John Varty and Molley Daley’s tractor got lots of attention when it was parked outside Style Trend on First Street West on Wednesday.

Varty, a university professor in agriculture and environmental history, and Daley have spent the past seven months chugging across Canada in their tractor trying to bring attention to farming issues in Canada in a project they simply call Tractor.

The goal, as Varty put it, is to get people thinking about issues facing farmers in Canada. The two are producing a documentary film about the state and condition of farming in Canada. Throughout their journey they have interview farmers, politicians, food activists, food company executives and more.

Just before arriving in Revelstoke they attracted some unwanted attention when someone complained to the RCMP about their slow-moving vehicle. After some investigation, it was determined that only licensed farmers are allowed to drive a tractor on the highway in B.C.

As a result, Varty and Daley had to spend two days at the Albert Canyon Hot Springs waiting for a special operating permit from ICBC.

Finally in Revelstoke they stopped at the River City Pub for lunch, where I met them on the patio.

“I want to take what I do in the academic world and make it available to a bigger audience,” Varty told me. He wants to tell the stories of struggling farmers – the vast majority of whom have to take on a second job to make ends meet, he said.

“There’s a whole host of things that happen everyday on a farm that people in cities take for granted,” he said. “I want to start a national conversation that connects city people and country people more than has been done so far.”

The documentary they are producing was intended to do that, but the tractor tour has also been raising awareness – so far they’ve been CBC, CTV, Global, Radio Canada, the Globe and Mail, Times of India, Hamilton Spectator and many more print, radio, web and television publications.

“If the coverage so far is any indication, then we’re really happy,” said Varty.

This being Revelstoke, I asked him his thoughts on food security, which is a major focus of the North Columbia Environmental Society.

While he said food security concerns were a good thing, he noted that a wheat farmer on the prairies (for example) might rely on exports for his income and that the problems are much broader than that.

One of the biggest problems facing independent farmers is that everyone from the chemical companies to grocers are making money, but they aren’t.

He did say the attention being paid to food issues is a positive. “There is an existing enthusiasm and interest and energy around food issues,” he said. “If I accomplish anything, the thing that would make me most proud is if I bridge the gap between conventional farmer and those who are out there eating.”

Going back to food security, he said people focused on that issue should realize that if a Prairie farmer fails, they will be bought out by a big agricultural company. By supporting them and enabling them to thrive, you can then try to get them to go organic.

Varty’s ultimate goal is to have agricultural issues enter the national conversation so that someone in Toronto might think of the Prairie farmer when casting their vote.

“What’s going to fix it is we have to engender a culture where it’s cool to vote on agricultural issues,” he said.

Even if all you eat are frozen fish sticks and french fries, you should still think about food issues, Varty said.

“We need to get to a place where even if you don’t care about food, you should still think about agricultural issues.”

Daley is an example of someone who has come around to thinking about food issues. Born and raised in New York City, the issue wasn’t on her radar until recently. “The biggest thing (I’ve learned) is there is a large stereotype of the hayseed farmer but the people I’ve met are very well versed on international trade and how to repair a combine.”

You can learn more about Tractor at or look up Tractor Canada on Facebook for regular updates there.


Just Posted

First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

Seventh round of negotiations between Canada and U.S. wrap up in Washington D.C.

City of Revelstoke pays $6.66 million in wages in 2018

Top earner was former CAO Alan Chabot

UPDATE: Man presumed dead after boat capsizes south of Revelstoke

One Alberta man made it to shore and was rescued, the other is still missing

Acoustic show at The Last Drop this week

Live shows go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Making interesting beer and acting like it’s normal

Rumpus Beer Co. has been 9 years of dreaming and 15 months in the making

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

AquaHacking Challenge comes to Okanagan to help address water issues

Between 2015 and 2018, the program has resulted in 12 active startups with 75 per cent still active

Memorials set up to honour Antarctica explorer

In 1913, two memorials in Summerland honoured Naval Officer Robert Scott

Several accidents slow traffic on Hwy 5 south of Kamloops

Drivers are expected to be stuck for up to 90 minutes

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Biker airlifted from Okanagan mountain resort

22-year-old injured at SilverStar Mountain Resort

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Most Read