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Union Farmer Quarterly: Spring 2018

Message from the Editorial Advisory Committee
Message from the President
Message from the Women's President
National Farmers Union Youth Retreat 2018
Regional Reports
Introducing three NFU members new to the National Board: Shannon Jones, Women's Vice President; Stuart Oke, Youth President; Marta Reczek, Youth Vice President
  • Restoring Resilience, Regenerating the Farm
  • Remembering Andreas Pfenning
  • Cultivating Communities: Three Experiences from the NFU
  • Fostering Conversations with New Canadians with an Interest in Farming
  • Voices from the Field - Terrylynn Brant: Mohawk Mother, Grandmother and Lifelong Farmer
  • The Beingessner Award for Excellence in Writing - Call for 2018 entries
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Union Farmer Newsletter - April 2018

In this issue …
Seed Synergy or Seed Sovereignty?
The anticipation of spring seeding and the joy of harvest is something every farmer experiences. Yet, in January 2018, the seed and agro-chemical companies began promoting a proposal for an extreme make-over of Canada's seed regulatory system.

Op Ed - Canada's beacon to dairy farmers around the world must not be extinguished!

(March 26, 2018) With President Trump’s “America First” rhetoric it looked like NAFTA renegotiations would end in a stalemate, but Canadian give-aways to appease Trump are keeping NAFTA alive. Farmers and consumers must not be complacent regarding the federal government's political commitments to defend supply management against Trump's demands.
Supply Management, a Canadian innovation created in the1960s, regulates the supply of dairy products, chickens, eggs and turkeys. Committed farmers in every region produce the required quantities in exchange for a farm-gate price that reflects the cost of production. Supply Management creates stability in the farming community, eliminates the need for government farm bailouts, allows processors to maximize plant capacity utilization, reduces food miles and prevents waste.

National Farmers Union promotes positive ideas to improve grain handling and transportation for farmers

(March 15, 2018) - The National Farmers Union (NFU) is announcing ideas for positive change in the grain handling and transportation sector that, if enacted, will benefit farmers. 
“We are proposing the establishment of Grain Car Receivers at the West Coast and at Thunder Bay. They would receive Producer Cars at port and direct them to whichever Terminal Elevator had space. The Receiver would have the grain graded by the Canadian Grain Commission at port and then offer the grain to whichever grain company was purchasing that grain.

Op Ed - Bill C-49: Helping the railways farm the farmers

Here we go again! Some prairie farmers cannot ship their grain. Grain companies and their friends are blaming the railways for not getting the grain to port. After months of being lobbied, the federal government is pushing new transportation legislation, claiming Bill C-49 will punish the railways for neglecting grain shipments. Yet this legislation effectively deregulates those same railways. The railways are quiet and the grain companies are happy. Anyone paying attention should notice a lot wrong with this picture.
Is it really true that prairie grain is not moving to port? If you believe the grain companies and their friends in the Ag Transport Coalition, the railways are ignoring their rail car orders. Yet, the more grain the railways haul, the more money they make, so this claim does not meet the smell test.
Measuring grain movement is a fairly simple task.

The National Farmers Union sends condolences to the Pfenning family

The National Farmers Union lost a valued member, leader and friend last week. Andreas Pfenning, son of Jennifer and Ekk Pfenning, passed away suddenly when he accidentally slipped into the Nith River while hunting on February 26th. Andreas was 24 years old.
Andreas was an active member of our organization. He currently held the position of President of Local 340 - Waterloo Wellington. Most recently, he attended the NFU Convention in Ottawa in November where he engaged in conversations with fellow members.
Andreas was passionate about farming and migrant workers rights. He was a great chef and loved to cook and brew beer.
Our hearts go out to the Pfenning family -- Jenn, Ekk, and his brothers Markus and Tristan -- and everyone who was fortunate to have known Andreas -- as we mourn his loss.

NFU Celebrates and Promotes Women’s Leadership and Diversity

A Statement on International Women’s Day

(March 8, 2018, Ottawa, ON) -- Today, on International Women’s Day 2018 Coral Sproule, National Farmers Union (NFU) President, highlights the growing leadership of women in farming.  “When I was a kid, I thought all farmers were men on tractors,” said Sproule. “But now, I’m a farmer and a role model.”
Even with the rapidly increasing proportion of women involved in farming, they still face barriers to inclusion and leadership which need to be overcome.  The NFU has encouraged leadership of women and youth since it was founded in 1969.

Passing flawed Bill C-49 Transportation Bill will not help farmers, says NFU

(March 6, 2018, Saskatoon) – The Senate is now studying Bill C-49, a bill to amend Canada’s Transportation Act and other related Acts, which the House of Commons passed in November. The National Farmers Union (NFU) is one of many groups urging the Senate’s Transportation and Communications Committee to amend the bill before it goes back to the Senate for a final vote.
“As it currently stands, Bill C-49 is so flawed that it is unlikely to provide any relief to farmers,” said Hanley-area grain farmer, Cam Goff, NFU 2nd Vice President. “Its provisions actually weaken the position of farmers and offer empty solutions to real problems.” 
“A system of reciprocal penalties for non-performance by grain companies and railways could prove useless for improving service or reducing costs for farmers.

Food Sovereignty

Empowering people to make the important decisions about food and agriculture
The National Farmers Union and other family farm/peasant, indigenous and rural workers organizations work within the global movement, La Vía Campesina, to resist the global trade agreements and the WTO, stop the destruction of  communities, cultures and environments, and build an alternative: food sovereignty. 
Food sovereignty is about empowering people – farmers and eaters – to make the important decisions about food and agriculture. It is the condition where people define their own food and agriculture systems to produce healthy and culturally appropriate food for people through ecologically sound and sustainable methods.

Prison Farms to Re-open at Kingston

(February 28, 2018, Kingston ON) - A nine year campaign to save the prison farm program at federal institutions paid off today where it counts — in the federal budget.
The national government will invest $4.3 million over five years, beginning in 2018, to support re-opening the penitentiary farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions in Kingston, Ontario.
In 2010, the previous Conservative government closed Canada’s six prison farms — one in each of the Prairie provinces and New Brunswick, and two within Kingston.
For 18 months, from the spring of 2009 to August, 2010, hundreds of Kingston and eastern Ontario people campaigned to save the program, citing its benefits to inmates and to the community.
“People of all political leanings told us closing the prison farms didn’t make any sense,” says Dianne Dowling, a member