County councillors here learned Oct. 29 that there are a lot of good farmers in this area – and farm groups want to recognize them.
John Sutherland, vice-president of the National Farmers Union, came to council to explain the Sustainable Farmer of the Year award. It will be presented to a farmer from Wellington County or Waterloo Region.
Sutherland said there are many good farmers in the two areas, and such recognition will let urban people, in particular, know that farmers are stewards of the land.
“There are many farmers who stand out from the others,” he said. “We want to encourage them and for them to be mentors to young people. There is too much [food] brought in from elsewhere.”
He added, “It is important that farmers be recognized as playing a major role in our future.”
He said the criteria for selecting a winner will include those farmers who work within natural systems and he added it can be more than just an individual, and include an entire farm family.
To be eligible, the nominees must have a farm registration number, and they must be affiliated with either the National Farmers Union, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, or the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.
He said anyone holding public office is ineligible, but they will be once they leave office.
Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj said the award is a good initiative in the community.
Councillor Lou Maieron said he sits as a councillor on the Wellington Federation of Agriculture, and he hears a lot about what farmers are doing, but there is very little public relations about what they do.
“This will shed light on what farmers are doing,” he said.
Councillor Rod Finnie added, “We talk about sustainability. Urban people don’t know that farmers are in the forefront.”
Sutherland noted the award was designed and produced by the art students from Erin District High School.
Councillor Mike Broomhead thanked Sutherland for including families for the award, saying, families are an important part of sustainable farms.