The LFA always has a number of issues, whether they are local in concern or engulf Ontario as a whole.
One of the most controversial this year on a provincial basis is the neonics that we use on our seed. The OFA has kept a constant dialogue with the government and has negotiated some concessions concerning the use of neonics. We are concerned in the manner in which these regulations were imposed with the lack of science; it appears that urban Ontario will now have much more influence than in the past in how we farm.
What farm practices are targeted next should be of a concern to everyone in this room. The farm population should be taking note of the needs and wants of the urban consumer, engagement of the urban consumer is going to be critical in the next few years.
The Lambton Federation is making it a priority to contact and develop our contacts with the young farmers in Lambton County. In August we held a regional meeting at Twin Pines Cider House and had a good number of young farmers in attendance. Jennifer Christie was our guest speaker that night. The following week I attended Middlesex County regional, Andrew Campbell was the speaker that evening, he has a strong social media presence, and his twitter profile is @freshairfarmer. He is well worth looking up.
At this time the Lambton Federation has started to organize social events to draw in the young farmers and their friends, 2 meetings have been held so far and the next one is set for Nov. 25 at my place with Dale Cowan as the guest speaker.
One thing we found in talking to the young group is that they are searching for a time and place to meet for social functions; there is no Junior Farmers as we knew it 20 years ago. I do hope that we can facilitate this and provide a forum to socialize and draw in some educational dialogue at the same time.
In March the OFA sent representatives to Ottawa, meetings were held with various MPs and cabinet ministers. Two local MPs that were met with were Bev Shipley and Pat Davidson. Also in the spring the Sarnia Lambton Chamber Of Commerce had a two day event at Queens Park. The federation accompanied the chamber to this event; lessons were learned by me on how to present ourselves as a business person. We are farmers, but sometimes we lose sight that we are first and foremost business and not just a farmer.
The Sarnia Chamber has recognized the importance of agriculture to the local economy and we are appreciative of that. Mark Lumley has been on the chamber for a number of years, and has brought recognition to agriculture.
My last year on the chamber has been a big learning curve and experience. In March of 2015 we also coordinate booking a suite at a London Knights game, shared with 5 counties. Potential directors for each county were invited to mix and mingle, out of this one event we gained 2 new directors and the other counties also picked up new board members. At that game in the suite beside us was Patrick Brown who is now leading the Provincial Conservatives. Patrick came over to our suite and met with our guests: networking is effective and unexpected networking such as this helps to engage politicians.
President, Lambton Federation of Agriculture