Pontiac farmers attend agriculture town hall

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Many Pontiac farmers attended an agricultural forum on Parliament Hill, February 10, where they addressed Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

Allyson Beauregard



Many Pontiac farmers attended an agricultural forum on Parliament Hill, February 10, where they addressed Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

Allyson Beauregard

OTTAWA – A number of Pontiac agricultural producers and several local organizations attended an agriculture forum on Parliament Hill with Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, and Pontiac MNA Will Amos, February 10.
One of the objectives of the meeting was to inform the Minister, through first-hand accounts, of concerns that can help create federal policy. This is important in the preparation of the next agricultural policy framework, which will guide the work of the department for the next five years.
Attending were representatives from the Quebec Farmers’ Association, CEDEC, Table agroalimentaire de l’Outaouais, CANAMEX, and Producteurs laitiers du Pontiac (Pontiac Milk Producers). The group discussed a range of topics such as interprovincial trade, development of local and regional direct marketing, farm tourism, education and training, NAFTA, diafiltered milk and GMOs. 
“Our government knows how important farmers and food processors are — they account for 1 in 8 jobs in this country — and we have embarked on a plan to help the agriculture sector be more innovative, safer and stronger. Talking to Canadians about the sector’s challenges and opportunities will help us, collectively, to put more money in farmers’ pockets, create jobs and grow the middle class,” said MacAulay.
L’Isle-aux-Alluemettes farmer Dave Gillespie spoke about the
agri-tourism exchange (CANAMEX) he wants to organize between Quebec and Essex County (in New York) to promote sustainable, value-added agriculture. He noted how Essex County brings in millions of tourists every year.
Local dairy producer Robbie Beck spoke, among other things, about the
supply management system and how Donald Trump’s plan to renegotiate NAFTA is a concern. Chris Judd, former president of the Quebec Farmers’ Association stressed how the supply management system – which has been a model for the world ever since it came into effect – needs to be protected. Before supply management, dairy farming wasn’t profitable, he said.
Shawville area farmer Ralph Lang stressed the importance of protecting GMO markets from fear mongering, bad press, and false advertising and for the government to invest more money into research rather than relying on larger
companies to do it.
“We have a lot of pressure and press about GMOs, neonics, pesticides, etc. Social media allows people to post false claims with no recourse. I asked that legislation be formed from science-based research rather than public opinion,” said Lang, noting that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people to feed worldwide.
“We will need to use every acre to its potential and increase the yield per acre. I think market gardens are great as well as niche markets and organic
farming, but the general public cannot afford these foods because they are
not feasible to produce,” he concluded.