James Clarke McCutcheon was born on May 1, 1935 at Homewood, Manitoba. He received his high school education in Carman and a Diploma in Agriculture at the University of Manitoba. In 1959 he married Frances Jean Kingdon. Their family of three children was involved in Scouts, 4-H Horse Club and Co-operative and Credit Union movements.
After a short stint as a commercial bush pilot, Jim returned to the farm where he specialized in growing pedigreed seed of grains, oilseeds and grasses. He made a conscious effort to make his farm economically viable while preserving the soil and keeping the acreage relatively small.
In 1973, Jim was inspired by Dr. Stobbe of the University of Manitoba to consider the merits of “Zero Tillage”, a very low tillage crop production system which was then unproven in Western Canada. After considering the merits of reduced labour and fuel costs, it became clear to Jim that this system would be the best for preserving topsoil unless all cropped acres were converted back to permanent grass. Convinced that “Zero Tillage” had huge potential, he set out to make it work. He bought and modified equipment in his own shop and by 1976 he had converted his entire acreage to “Zero Till” using this system until he retired in 1999.
Jim was presented with many awards for his contributions to “Zero Till” and his community. The University of Manitoba presented a Certificate of Merit in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the agricultural industry and the public at large. Other awards came from the Great Plains Agricultural Council, the “Award of Merit” from Carman Community, the “Zero Till Farmer of the Year” from Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association and an “Outstanding Service Award” from the Canadian Seed Growers Association.
Jim served on boards of Homewood Co-op and Pool Elevator Association, the Carman District Farm Business Association and the first board of the Dufferin Credit Union. He served on the board of Manitoba Branch of Canadian Seed Growers Association and was made an Honourary Life Member of Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. He was a member of the first Board of Soil Conservation Canada and was appointed to the National Pesticide Review. Jim was the first president of Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association.
Jim enjoyed basketball, curling, slow pitch softball and tennis. He sang in the United Church Choir. Shortly before retiring he attended university to study psychology and philosophy. He is a family man, farmer, problem solver, innovator and speaker. He has lead by example and was always willing to share his knowledge and techniques. Jim believed in what he did and did what he believed