National Farmers Union - Ontario elects John Sutherland as President

Guelph, ON – John Sutherland of Erin, ON was elected president at the NFU-O Annual General Meeting on March 2 in Listowel. Sutherland has been President of Local 340 Waterloo, Wellington for the past three years. During that time, the local instituted three popular farming awards. For the past 20 years, he has grown organic specialty salad mix year round and other summer vegetables. Currently, he is a member of the Wellington County Stewardship Council.

Members debated and carried resolutions such as continuing the fight against GM alfalfa and investigating GM sweet corn. The NFU-O also resolved to lobby the Ontario government to call a moratorium on the approval of new wind farm developments pending the results of the current Health Canada study. In addition, the NFU-O will work with the NFU to raise public and government awareness about the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are shown to be linked to declining bee populations.

A panel entitled “Working with other civil society organizations to push for the democratic principles of food sovereignty” featured Jodi Koberinski of the Organic Council of Ontario, Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians and NFU member Melisa Luymes. All three panelists strongly encouraged members to continue to collaborate with other agricultural organizations. Koberinski pointed to the NFU-O/NFU and the need for their continued existence to represent family farmers. Trew asserted that only by working together will we be able to defeat the CETA. Luymes noted that we must “learn each other’s languages” if we are to have a democratic and inclusive society. She also stated that farmers all share a common enemy - the logic of industrialization and maximizing profit at any cost.

In her presentation, “Places to Farm: Issues and Strategies for Farmland Access,” Dr. Sally Miller contended that society needs to prioritize agriculture. She outlined the need for farmer-controlled mid-scale financing opportunities, better tax strategies, greater facilitation of first-time farm mortgages, and a managed succession model for people not in the same family.

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For more information, contact:

John Sutherland, NFU-O President: (519) 855-4651, jjsutherland@sympatico.ca

Sarah Bakker, NFU-O Regional Office Administrator: (705) 738-3993, office@nfuontario.ca