Ontario Agriculture Week: It’s not Just about the Food
September 28, 2018 | By Marie Versteeg
Ontario Agriculture Week was proclaimed by the provincial government in 1998, and Ontarians have been observing it ever since.
The week, which begins October 1st this year, is a noteworthy celebration of the blessings we receive in our exceptional corner of the world. In many ways, Ontario is synonymous with abundance. Over 70,000 farmers are producing hundreds of varieties of food here, reaching diverse markets, both locally and abroad. Ontario has a rich and growing food culture.
A week that honours the hard work of farmers is both appreciated and celebrated by those in agriculture. But it also serves as a reminder of the broader social and environmental responsibilities that farmers bear.
In its preamble, Bill 37, the Ontario Agriculture Week Act, explains the reason for establishing this week-long recognition, stating, “The food and other agricultural products that sustain our lives are the result of the skill, hard work and dedication of Ontario's farming communities and farm families. It is important to recognize and acknowledge this ongoing contribution by Ontario farmers to the quality of life of all our citizens.”
When it comes to contributing to “the quality of life of all our citizens,” it’s valuable to remember that farmers do more than just grow food. As owners of large tracts of rural land, farmers have a collective responsibility to steward that land for the benefit of all Ontarians. Many farmers recognize this duty and are engaged in projects that restore and preserve natural ecosystems on their farms, working either independently or with external initiatives like ALUS Canada.
Like these farmers, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario believes that our province deserves carefully stewarded farmland well into the future. This will require policy that balances economic success for the agriculture and agrifood sector with commitments to protect our precious farmland, foster soil health, and preserve both water quality and water use.
Through our Stewardship & Policy Committee meetings this September, the CFFO has been working with members across the province to develop key messages to government that address our concerns. The CFFO sees opportunities for collaboration in order to build effective policies that will protect Ontario’s farmland and precious resources.
Ontario Agriculture Week is an important time to acknowledge the many things farmers contribute to our province, from producing food that nourishes to stewarding the land that will sustain future generations.
It’s no accident that Ontario Agriculture Week occurs the week before Thanksgiving, a time of gratitude for the bounty of the harvest. In this exceptional corner of the world, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Marie Versteeg is Manager of Executive Board & Committees for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, and CKNX Wingham. It is also archived on the CFFO website, www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,000 family farmers across Ontario.