When I started blogging in August of 2010 I had no idea what it meant to be a blogger nor did I have any idea what I was getting myself into. Fast forward to February 1st, 2011 and I’m about to embark on my 2nd “I don’t know what I’m getting myself into” project. During the month of November I wrote a few posts for Farmers Matter, an organization that I helped to create that promotes agriculture by putting a face on the farmer. Well, starting today I’m going to start blogging for Farmers Matter (www.farmersmatter.ca) on a regular basis because…well… Farmers Matter themselves is about to embark on a “We don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into” adventure.
Farmers Matter was originally formed to host a town hall with the goal of raising awareness to some hurdles facing farmers here in Ontario. We hoped that we would engage local producers and industry partners by getting everyone in a room to work on some constructive solutions for the future of Canadian agriculture. We never dreamed that we would get federal and provincial politicians as well as farm organization leaders to sit down and have a frank and honest discussion with farmers about the issues that grassroots producers deal with every day. Over 900 people who depend on agriculture for their livelihood came out on November 26th to an event in hopes that this wasn’t just another meeting…and it wasn’t. We heard the messages loud and clear that day; farmers do have problems, but damn it we are going to put our head down, work hard, and if we are treated fairly we are going to thrive. The success of our town hall demonstrated to the people behind Farmers Matter that we still have a role to play.
So what is the adventure that I alluded to above? Well, given that we here in Ontario are probably faced with both a federal and provincial election this year; Farmers Matter has decided that we are going to make Canadian agriculture an election issue. You’d think that when a country’s 2nd largest industry is in trouble politicians would take notice but to date it hasn’t happened. Many farmers feel like Canadians don’t really care where their food comes from but we at Farmers Matter don’t believe that. We believe that if Canadian consumers could easily identify Canadian grown products then they would buy them. We believe that Canadian farmers deserve equitable treatment from coast to coast. We believe that if we had the right tools at our disposal then we can be competitive in the global food market. Lastly, we believe that if we work now to create a more sustainable industry then we can finally convince young people that farming is more then just an expensive lifestyle, it is a viable career. Over the next few months Farmers Matter will be rolling out a campaign that will raise the profile of Canadian agriculture and I’m stoked to be a part of it. I know it won’t be easy and I know that there are plenty of cynics out there who just think I’m young and naïve, the same people that say that there is no future in farming. To be honest I don’t really care what the cynics say because I believe in the promise of Canadian agriculture with an unadulterated optimism, the same optimism my ancestors had in 1859 when they started a new life farming outside of Mitchell, Ontario. Farmers do matter and it’s high time we started telling people why.
Something is happening…Stay tuned