Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association uses virtual reality to educate consumers

Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association uses virtual reality to educate consumers
Sometimes there is more to a picture than what you see at first glance. That certainly can be true of farming. The Saskatchewan Cattlemen's association is using virtual reality to offer the public a better of understanding of life at the farm gate. Katelyn Wilson has the rest of the story.

Sometimes there’s more to a picture than what meets the eye: that’s why the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is using virtual reality to offer the public a better understanding of life on a farm.

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“Farming has become so skilled that it takes less people to do it,” Ryder Lee, CEO of Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association said.

“Whether it’s better machinery, or ways of taking care of animals, a lot of people have outsourced their food production so less than 2 per cent of the population are farmers or on the farm.”

Aiming to change that, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association introduced virtual reality headsets to Agribition two years ago, giving people a 360 degree immersive experience in an attempt to bring the farm to the public.

“You see people reach out to touch them [cows] when they’re not there and you get to hear from the producer themselves so he’s telling the story of what his family does and how they take care of the animals and what the life cycle is,” Lee said. “This year we added the feedlot.”
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It’s also a way to engage and educate consumers while helping to address misconceptions.

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“There’s a lot of questions about what are cattle fed, it’s more information, what they’re fed, what does antibiotic free or anti hormone free mean and that’s a good one because there’s nothing hormone free that grows,” Lee explained. “All the meat you sell in Canada it’s antibiotic free.”

For Canadian Western Agribition attendee Larry Spratt, it’s a chance for his daughter Robyn to learn the ins and outs of the industry.

“This is an excellent idea because I mean most of these kids here have never been on a farm,” Spratt said.

But virtual reality technology is not only being used in headsets to bring people closer to the farm, it’s also being incorporated into the industry when it comes to training.

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“You can’t recreate some of the dangerous things that are out there,” Lee said. “So some of the safety training is going on in there [with virtual reality] so you can learn about working with dangerous situations or tools without putting yourself in there.”

While Lee says the technology continues to evolve in the industry, he wants consumers to keep one thing in mind.

“When you hear something that sounds bad, talk to the people involved in it,” Lee said. “Farmers and ranchers are feeding their family the same thing they’re selling to people outside of their family and they don’t want that to be bad or dangerous or anything negative.”

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For kids like Robyn, virtual reality can help shape the farmers and ranchers of tomorrow.