CFA Board Director, and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) President, Doug Chorney came about his love for farming very honestly.
Born into a farming family, Doug has been interested in farming right from the start when he began working on his family farm at a very young age. Over the years, a lot has changed on the Chorney family farm. It has grown substantially in size and has transitioned into a much more crop diverse operation. Nowadays, the Chorney farm primarily grows winter and spring wheat varieties, canola, soybeans, and Timothy grass seed. Another change to the Chorney farm has been how the farm markets its product “We’re always looking to market for the best return possible,” said Doug, “that’s been one of the biggest changes since it was my father’s farm.” “For us, marketing our crops properly has been very important. Selling our fresh veggies right off the highway at our on-farm store has brought us closer to our customers, which is always a good thing,” said Doug.
The approach to farm safety has also changed. “We’ve become much more proactive towards safety concerns,” said Doug. “We’re always aiming to improve our farm with the most practical and safest options.” The safety changes have not only come through technology, but also culturally. “You’re no longer considered a “wimp” for using proper safety gear; farmers are accepting the need for extra precautions. Sometimes it’s just something as simple as wearing proper hearing protection.”
Life on the Chorney farm is a family affair. Doug’s role is general farm management and maintenance work. “I wouldn’t want to give up operating,” said Doug. “I’d much prefer to be outside driving a tractor, than be inside swamped with bookkeeping and paperwork.” Doug’s wife, Michelle, works off-farm as a nurse, but is more active on the farm during the peak seasons. “If we’re really busy, my wife is always willing to take time off or vacation time to help out. She’s definitely a very important part of the team,” said Doug. Doug’s daughter, Erin, also pitches in around the farm, primarily managing the on-farm store. “It’s great to have the family engaged on the farm,” said Doug, “but there’s never any pressure, we don’t want her to feel forced into farming. You have to want it!” When asked about retirement, Doug laughed and said he hadn’t given it much thought. “Retirement isn’t a goal for me that would beat farming, I’m not sure what would.”
Another one of Doug’s passions is the work he does with the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) in Manitoba. Doug became involved with the organization when he himself had a farm issue, and took it to the provincial farming association. “I received a great response and even had access to the President, it seemed like they really cared about my issue,” said Doug. “A united voice is so much more effective than a single farmer with an issue. Farm associations are the best way to have your issues heard. They’re a great investment.” Since his initial experience with KAP, Doug hasn’t looked back and has worked his way all the way up to KAP President. It’s a role he cherishes, as he “loves helping other farmers with their own particular issues.”
As for farming in his home province of Manitoba, Doug admits that “it’s not for the faint of heart. Manitoba farmers are a tough bunch.” The climate adds a lot of extra challenges that farmers in other regions rarely encounter. “You can have drought problems and excess moisture issues all in the same year,” said Doug. “We have a very short growing season, so you have to be efficient. There is no spare time. We have to seed and also harvest very quickly, as time windows are very narrow for most operations.” That being said, Doug’s very proud of the sustainability of his farm. “We’ve been on the same land since 1939, which can truly be attributed to my parents great work ethic” – a work ethic that he does his best to emulate today.
Originally appeared in the CFA in Action newsletter.