RealAg LIVE! with Mark Brock on the value of farmer collaboration


Given the price of land and equipment these days, many farmers see growth or expansion capped by capital limitations. One solution could be to work collaboratively, sharing equipment or human resources, but many Canadian farmers’ first reaction to that is “that will never work here.”

To explore why some farmers — like those in New Zealand and Australia — seem to be more open to collaboration than others, Mark Brock set off on a Nuffield scholarship, touring the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. Listen on for his key findings of his journey, so far.

Check out RealAg LIVE! every week day afternoon at 3 pm Eastern!


  • What’s a Nuffield scholarship?
  • Check out!
  • How does it work?
  • Do you get to choose where you go?
  • Started looking at shared equipment or labour
  • Landed on farmer-to-farmer collaboration
  • Looking around the world, Aus and New Zealand do it well
  • A month in Aus, and then 2 weeks in NZ
  • Curtailed by COVID-19 and had to come home
  • Missed going to Europe
  • Aussie farmers are stubborn, tenacious, and dedicated 🙂
  • Aus and NZ is different — they have to mitigate their own risk
  • Collaboration in Canada, “That will never work.”
  • What impacts the decisions “we” make?
  • Behavioural economics: the trade-offs, other than price
  • We fear loss more than we appreciate gain
  • Example, growing a new hybrid, and a freak storm knocks it out. Likely won’t grow it again. Even though that’s not the real reason
  • It spreads to collaboration, too
  • A shared combine: do they go to my field first?
  • Fear that loss so much, it overshadows the potential gain
  • What are those 5 biases? Some seem simple, but profound
  • Confirmation bias (we confirm what we believe), herd mentality; seeing others do something, might feel social pressure (influence of others), gut feeling (emotional decisions), over-confidence bias (we are better by ourself)
  • What are the mechanisms where Aus and NZ are different? Less government involvement
  • Canadian farmers often view their peers as competitors not collaborators. The world is the competitor
  • Read Brock’s report, please!
  • Change is inevitable, and perhaps we’re in for a change
  • The capital required to farm is nuts, that can really hold people back
  • Collaboration works, so long as it’s built on trust and a common why
  • Then you need structure. Full stop.
  • Get outside your geographic bubble (safely, of course)

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