Farmer and a member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank Board of Directors
Byron has participated in Canadian Foodgrains Bank programming since its inception in 1983 when his father, Clayton Richardson, was the first board of director to represent CBM.
Byron has since taken on that role as a director, rounding out forty years as a farmer, donor and leader with Foodgrains addressing hunger issues globally. He and his children run a multi-generational farm that has contributed to Foodgrains projects for decades with a hope to continue for many years to come. Here’s a small excerpt of a recent conversation with Byron:
Q: How did your family get involved with Foodgrains?
My parents (Clayton and the late Connie Richardson) visited a Kenyan refugee camp serving displace people during the famine in Somalia in the 1980s. They came back changed, especially knowing that many others were still starving despite these efforts. Recognizing that experience really brought the reality of food insecurity to our attention. Sometimes we’re so far removed from the pain that we just go on with our lives and ignore the reality. But mom and dad were concerned about what they could do in their lives that could make an impact. This led to our commitment with Foodgrains.
Since then, my wife, Susan, and I have been to Kenya and Rwanda, and Kendra
(my daughter) and her husband have travelled with Foodgrains on a food study
tour in Kenya.
Q: As a farmer, what are some of the challenges you face today?
Farming has huge risks as it takes rain, frost free days, no insects, and no hail among other factors. We’re constantly up against cash flow problems. Everyone’s aware of how much costs have gone up, especially in urban areas, but farmers must deal with the rise in prices that impact the sustainability of the farm. The carbon tax is applied to just about every stage of farming and the price of inputs, such as fertilizer and equipment, have really escalated.
Q: What spurs you on with Foodgrains despite the challenges of farming?
The need for food security is enormous. Our Christian worldview is that we’re “blessed to be a blessing”. There’s a responsibility to be stewards of what we have. Foodgrains’ Christian response to hunger is to ask ourselves, will I make a choice to be godly or will I continue living for myself? I love the idea that we have an opportunity to be used by God in a significant way. I think that’s where the Foodgrains opportunity is unique.
We’re trying to pass along the culture of being submitted in your heart to the Lord to our grandkids. We want to be a biblically based church with biblical values and biblical relationships. Our relationship with the hungry is an important relationship. How can we feel good about that relationship if we have enough but there are people starving while we have the ability to do something about it?
Q: Why is Foodgrains important to Canadian Baptists in addressing global food security?
Today’s crisis is right in front of us. Russia and Ukraine are among the top ten in world wheat production. The war has consequences on the global supply with wheat being one of the foundational grains that deeply impacts food security around the world.
There’s nowhere in Canadian history where there’s been a 4 to 1 match for donations. To see the Canadian government appreciate what we’re doing in Foodgrains and align themselves with us is quite a privilege, especially as a Christian organization in today’s society.
Q: What would you say to others who may be thinking about participating with Foodgrains?
As a donor, your investment is multiplied four times! You can really make a difference.
I really encourage other farmers to join us. The latest Foodgrains model is to have a type of virtual farm where the growth project is part of the farm instead of a separate piece of land. This cuts out some of the logistical challenges of managing another plot of land as well as the risk of spreading crop damaging diseases. The more God blesses the crop, the more Foodgrains gets that blessing. My vision is to see more farmers join in this effort.