Squabbling farmers must pull together, says president

Ontario farmers have often been compared to a squabbling family, joined together by a common link (food production) but never totally supportive of each other. But the newly re-elected president of the province’s largest general farm organization, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Bette Jean Crews, says those days must end.

Crews, a central Ontario farmer, who won the presidency last Monday at the federation’s annual conference in Toronto, says farmers must go forward with united messages. They need to mature as a profession if they’re to capitalize on the amazing opportunities in front of them. With the homegrown food movement having created a shift in the marketplace toward them, and commodity prices getting to a more respectable level, farmers can see the horizon for a change, instead of the brick walls that have been in their way for years.

However, they need to act now if they’re to sustain this vision. Crews says farmers need a bigger presence in urban Ontario to help consumers understand where food comes from, and how it’s produced. She’s particularly interested in reaching young adults who are starting to make a lifetime’s worth of food buying decisions. As consumers and citizens, they’ll be the ones who influence policy makers and regulators. And difficult regulations are one of famers’ biggest complaints.

I spoke with Crews for my Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury after her re-election last week. Click here to read the entire column.

Some families never seem to squabble...not for more than one episode, anyway.

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