PETERBOROUGH – A group of producers with a vision of a more hands-on farm organization is holding the first annual general meeting of the Practical Farmers of Ontario (PFO) at Trent University here Sat., March 31.
“Our aims are to be a strong voice for farmers, but we feel a strong voice isn’t enough if we don’t follow up our voice with action, so we really want to be an action based group that works on problems and issues and takes action on them to get the desired results. Actions can and will come in many different forms and each situation will present a new set of challenges and different resources to be proactive and in archiving a positive outcome,” says Tom McGivern of Grey County, one of the group’s founding members.
In an e-mail exchange with The AgriNews, McGivern said the PFO is primarily aimed at producers involved in alternative forms of farming, such as organic, CSA’s, direct marketing and value adders, who are not being adequately represented by the mainstream farm organizations.
McGivern says he and three other members of the NFU resigned from that organization in the fall of 2011 feeling that it did not adequately represent the type of farmers who are gravitating to the PFO.
McGivern, 32, farms 2,000 acres in Grey County, growing alternative crops such as spelt, coloured beans, heritage wheat and feed for his milking Shorthorns and hogs. He also owns an organic flourmill and grain processing facility both for domestic and export markets.
PFO also feels, McGivern says, that supply management boards fail to take into account the rights of smaller producers to sell directly to consumers “and we think it is time that we stand up for our rights as farmers and ensure that the marketing boards respect the rights of small farmers and their customers who want local food direct from farmers”.
No unsurprisingly raw milk activist Michael Schmidt, also of Grey County, will be the first speaker of the day March 31….”