Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Clarence Nywening, CFFO President
Sustainability is a key component to running any business. If a company cannot uphold or maintain its practices, it will eventually crumble. Over the past few months I have been involved in several sessions discussing sustainability in farming. These conversations have been both intriguing and concerning with the problems that have come to light.
Every day residents across Ontario go to grocery stores or farmers’ markets in order to purchase the food they will eat. The food they choose will influence the health of their bodies and the health of those they love, and in some cases will play a role in feelings of moral well-being. As a result, many voices cry out and impact farmers and the practices they are allowed to use on their farms from the seed they are allowed to plant in their fields, right down to how they are allowed to house their animals. This large voice of influence plays a huge role on farms and their ability to initiate and maintain sustainable practices.
Though it is important for people to understand and participate in the production of their food, too often consumers have a misguided view of what is actually happening on Ontario farms. Many times I have encountered well-meaning non-rural citizens who seek to better protect animal rights or to encourage healthy affordable food, yet who lack the knowledge to properly support their efforts. As a result, they make unfounded accusations or demands on farmers that result in laws or regulations that limit or even make it impossible for farmers to maintain sustainable businesses.
As we seek this goal of sustainability, it is important for farmers to communicate with the public about our farms and how they work. Likewise, as a farmer, I implore those who wish to make a difference in the food market to look at the facts. When considering the use of GMO crops and their use for food, do not be swayed by public outcries based on emotion and misunderstanding. Instead, seek out true scientific facts, or ask a farmer about the benefits and draw backs of these products. When deciding between eggs coming from free run chickens and those housed in cages, seek to understand the benefits and the weaknesses of both living conditions from a factual rather than emotional perspective.
Farmers and consumers can work together to realize and maintain laws and regulations that better reflect the truth of farming and will, as a result, allow farmers to run sustainable farms in Ontario.