Grainews editor, investment columnist Andy Sirski, 73

Andy Sirski. (Grainews file photo)

Memorial services will be held Friday in Winnipeg for Andy Sirski, the ag rep turned farm writer who encouraged Prairie producers to expand their views of financial planning beyond the farm gate.

Sirski was best known to farmers in his role as editor of Grainews from 1995 to 2006 and as the farm journal’s “Off-Farm Investments” columnist up until his death Feb. 10 in Winnipeg at age 73.

Born at Norquay in eastern Saskatchewan and raised on the farm near Dauphin, Man., Sirski became a provincial ag rep in the Vita area of southeastern Manitoba after earning a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Manitoba in 1970.

Sirski later worked for the federal/provincial Small Farm Development Program, consulting with new and small-scale farmers on management matters such as farm credit, tax law, farm transfers and intergenerational farming arrangements.

In 1979 Sirski became managing editor of Grainews, the Prairie farm journal for Winnipeg-based United Grain Growers. From there he took a dual role as editorial director for UGG’s Farm Business Communications publishing division in 1994 and as Grainews’ editor starting in 1995. (Click here for remembrances of Andy Sirski from Glacier FarmMedia editor Lee Hart.)

During his stint at Grainews, Sirski encouraged farmers to develop what he described as a “five-legged stool” of financial planning, the legs of which included the farm; another skill; insurance; off-farm investments such as stocks; and education savings for children.

After his retirement in 2006, Sirski offered thoughts on investments through his column in Grainews, now published by Glacier FarmMedia, and in a self-published newsletter, StocksTalk, in which he wrote of the value of a disciplined approach to managing investments, buying and selling stocks based on technical signals.

Sirski was honoured in 2012 by the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association with a lifetime membership, at which time he encouraged young people to seek a degree or diploma in agriculture.

“The industry is blooming and offers many opportunities for people with the right set of skills and attitude,” he said.

Writing in 2013 about things he’d wished he’d learned 30 years earlier in developing financial skills, he urged readers to “find someone to talk to,” adding he aimed to be that person for his own family.

“Most of us have had someone to talk to over the years. But usually it was someone who was trying to sell us something, or someone who had fears of their own and could only give us one side of the story,” he wrote.

“By ‘someone to talk to’ I mean someone who had failed once or twice, had succeeded in the four aspects of life and had a vision of the future.”

The funeral service for Sirski will be held Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. at Holy Eucharist Parish in Winnipeg. — Network

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