Farmers get info on local services at SADC Forum

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Added: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 10:52pm
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Jonathan Smiley and Randi Townsend, owner and operators of Ferme Pleine Lune in Bristol attended the SADC Forum.

Carl Hager

SHAWVILLE –  Friday, November 17, the SADC (Pontiac Community Futures Development Corporation) organized an Agricultural Forum to showcase the wealth of resources available in the Pontiac to respond to local farmers’ needs. The event was held at the Exhibit Hall on the Shawville Fair Grounds.  Cindya Labine and Mario Guay from the SADC welcomed the approximate 20 participants. 
University professor Mr. Erik Lockhart of the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, animated the morning session. He directed attendees to write down areas of concern using laptop computers he had brought. He then summarized these issues into nine main points:  accessing markets / coordinating with other producers; profitability and sustainability / cash flow management; local contacts for planning farm operations; business support; hiring and affording workers; tax requirements; challenges getting to city markets; time management; and building permits required for small producers. 
In the afternoon, after lunch provided by the SADC, a panel of local resource
people, including the Caisse Populaire de Fort-Coulonge, Banque Nationale, Shawville, Table d’agroalimentaire de l’Outaouais (TAO), Me Mireille Alary and MAPAQ described the services they provide that could respond to the needs identified in the morning session.   They also gave information on other concerns and questions: hydroponics, organic farming, new technologies, or succession issues. 
Many participants were seeking “start up” information including tips on production, financing, and marketing. As an example, Mr. Fournier, a resident living in the Municipality of Pontiac on Mountain Road, aspires to starting up a lamb and goat kid farm. Mr. Fournier noted the fast growing demand for goat meat in Quebec, with 12 million carcasses imported last year. He hopes to take advantage of this demand, which will include selling his meat at the “farm-gate”.
SADC representatives informed the group there are loans up to $25,000
available, with the first two years at no interest. Grants are also possible through the MAPAQ offices in Shawville.
At the end of the day, Greg Graham, from Coronation Hall Cider Mills commented, "It’s not only what you know, it’s who you know, that makes a difference. Meeting all
these people has been tremendous." The Forum was supported by partners Desjardins (Fort Coulonge), MRC Pontiac and the Reseau Agri Conseils de l’Outaouais.  The SADC has more events planned in the near future with the focus continuing on agriculture in the Pontiac.