Federation of Agriculutre hopes to keep in touch with its membership

Because agriculture is a knowledge-based industry, farm­ers have to take advantage of every opportunity to keep their knowledge base up to date.

This is the beginning of the 2010 farm show season, and there are at least eight shows across the province for farmers to attend. The Ontario Federa­tion of Agriculture makes a point of setting up its display and having elected and staff representatives at most of these shows. It is important that OFA be there and be equipped to answer the multitude of ques­tions farmers have about the industry.

With all of the changes oc­curring in agriculture, not only from the technical side but from the regulations coming from our provincial and federal governments, anyone involved in agriculture stands to gain by attending the shows and getting answers to their questions.

We want to talk to farmers about developments with Can­ada’s national food strategy and why it is important that farmers play a role in the development of that strategy.

The OFA also needs the input of farmers about the work of the Ontario agriculture sustain­ability coalition. It is essential that farmers express their goals and how they want OFA and their commodity organizations to proceed to securing the busi­ness risk management program that are needed.

As OFA officials talk to farm­ers at these shows, they can gauge their willingness to take the issues to government’s front door if that becomes necessary.

By talking with our mem­bers at these shows, we will have a more accurate impres­sion of what the other serious issues are that they encounter daily.

Based on conversations we have with members in the field and in the office, we know farm­ers want OFA to work with livestock commodities to take action on pressures being plac­ed on small abattoirs to up­grade their facilities. These abattoirs are a critical part of the local food chain and OFA wants to ensure they don’t dis­appear.

While food safety is an issue for society and OFA, we believe there can be a satis­fac­tory compromise that will al­low the small abattoirs to continue to operate, meeting the needs of farmers and turn­ing out safe product.

 Although conditions vary across the province, we need to hear from members about their experiences with coyotes and recommendations OFA must deliver to provincial govern­ment officials to reduce or eliminate this problem.

Success for OFA means effective and ongoing commu­nications with its members. The most effective commu­nications brings farmers and OFA together, and these farm shows make it happen for us.

We look forward to talking with farmers at the Western Fair Farm Show in London, March 10, 11 and 12; the Can-Am Equine Show at the Western Fair Grounds in Lon­don March 19 to 21. OFA will also be at the East Central Farm Show in Lindsay March 3 and 4; the Ottawa Valley Farm Show in Lansdown Park, Ot­tawa, March 16, 17 and 18.

During the summer, OFA will be at the Ontario Pork Congress in Stratford on June 23 and 24; at the Hastings Coun­ty Plowing Match and Equipment Show on Aug. 18 and 19, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show near Woodstock, Sept. 14, 15, and 16; and the International Plowing Match near St. Thomas from Sept. 21 to 25.

See you at the 2010 farm shows.

Mark Wales is the vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.