Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Brooke Wareing, CFFO Communications Intern
This year marked the 52nd annual Grey Bruce Farmers week. The event was held Jan. 3 to 9 in Elmwood. Grey Bruce Farmers Week started in 1968 and was originally a conference several days long focusing on dairy, beef and crops. The conference has since evolved and is now an annual conference held every year in January, dedicated to providing extensive information on major agricultural commodities. The conference attracts more than 1,300 people to Grey Bruce and features many different speakers and exhibits.
The week features days dedicated to specific commodities such as beef, dairy, goat, sheep, horse and crops and concluded with a day focused on ecological farming. Farmers Week provides a unique experience where farmers can learn about issues that pertain to their specific interests, but also have the option of learning about new commodities as well.
The week started off with Beef Day, where Andrew Campbell presented “The Good and Bad of Reaching Out to Consumers.” His presentation, like many others, provided a unique perspective on modern ag issues and focused on how to effectively communicate the good work of farmers in Ontario.
Other presentations during the week included a speech from Bruce Vandenburg, owner of Mariposa Dairy, who presented on the impacts of CETA; a speech from Jennifer MacTavish, General Manager of the Ontario Sheep Farmers, and many more. Grey Bruce Farmers Week also included panel discussions, such as a producer panel on pasture pork, a sheep fencing panel discussion, and an “In Search of Efficiencies and Higher Productivity” discussion.
CFFO staff representatives attended Dairy Day, which included speakers on a variety of topics and exhibits. Dairy day was a busy conference, with the Elmwood Community Centre hall filled with farmers listening to speakers, touring the exhibits and, of course, socializing. One of the speakers, Dr. Robert Tremblay, offered tips on raising calves, sanitizing bottles, and how to keep dairy cattle herds as healthy as possible.
Ralph Dietrich also spoke during Dairy Day on the industry and how it is performing in current times. Dietrich elaborated on milk demand and how a new processing plant being built in Kingston may open more opportunities for dairy farmers. Lastly, he spoke regarding NAFTA and what changes could look like and how they may impact the dairy industry.
Overall, Grey Bruce Farmers Week is a unique experience that caters to major agricultural commodities and provides extensive day-long sessions. This week-long event is excellent for learning practical and specific knowledge related to your own commodity, but is also a great experience for any farmer that is interested in a new commodity or learning more. If you were unable to attend this year, make sure you mark it on your calendars for next year as this is a great event.