Strengthening Community: CFFO Policy Tour 2021
February 26, 2021 | Paul Bootsma
This past Tuesday was Canada's Agriculture Day. This celebrated day started in 2016 and was launched as a day of celebration for farmers. This year’s celebration brings special attention to our agricultural industry and the pride we share in growing food. Food production is still one of the main economic drivers nationally and provincially.
CFFO is part of that agricultural scene in Ontario, representing over 4000 farming families, listening to their stories and successes, and offering policy recommendations to government to protect Ontario’s farming future. Our mindset is long-term thinking for today’s issues. This is where our annual Policy Tour plays a significant part. Every winter, the tour travels across the province gathering on-the-ground perspectives from our members on a variety of topics.
This year, our theme is “Strengthening Community: Addressing the Human Side in a Crisis.” We’ve invited CFFO members to dive deeper into policy questions that address the societal impacts of the pandemic. We wanted to look at ways to strengthen relationships, be it between employers and workers, between farm businesses and local consumers, or between community members, keeping connections strong to support one another through challenging times.
We have focused our discussions on three current issues: farm labour, local food systems and peace of mind. We’re asking our members, how has the government approached these issues through times of crisis? What has worked for farmers and what has not? What improvements would they suggest going forward?
We have held a number of virtual sessions for our districts so far this month. The conversations with members from across the province have been illuminating. We’re asking about the supports and training needed for farm workers in the face of COVID-19, how our sector can seize the opportunities of renewed public interest in local food, and what sorts of business risk management and mental health resources could help to alleviate the growing chronic stress facing farmers.
Questions like these have been asked for many years, but the pandemic has thrown a spotlight on them. The purpose of the Policy Tour is to assist provincial government to build policy that better supports our farm communities in a crisis.
CFFO will be hosting evening virtual meetings on each topic in March, and all CFFO members are warmly invited to attend. You can find more information about the Policy Tour and our March ALL MEMBERS meetings at christianfarmers.org.
We look forward to hearing your perspectives on these topics.
Paul Bootsma is Field Services Manager 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, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.