NFU Convention 2023

NFU’s 54th annual convention The Future of Farming: In Our Hands in the nation’s capital, Ottawa (and online through zoom) is one for the books! Following energized actions from lobbying day, a farmland rally, the 3 day convention program from November 23-25 2023 gathered folks from across the country as we learned, connected and pushed for change. Solidarity forever! 

The Year We Didn’t Grow— Keynote Address by Fatima Syed
2023 Convention Video

NFU 54th Annual Convention
— Watch the recordings today

Topic: The Year We Didn’t Grow

The Ontario government definitely wanted to — and maybe still does — but the costs were too high and the outrage too loud. The combination of Bill 23, the Greenbelt opening, the urban boundary expansions, and the new provincial policy statement all threatened thousands of acres of farmland. No one was consulted or informed properly, not at first and not as much later. A look back at what we’ve learned about the challenges and nuances of growth in a whirlwind year of policies, protests, investigations, and reversals.

Fatima Syed is a Mississauga-based climate journalist with The Narwhal. Previously, she worked for The Walrus, the Toronto Star, The Logic and National Observer, where she established the outlet’s Queen’s Park bureau, with an emphasis on coverage of environmental and energy policy. She is a National Magazine Award nominee, a Digital Publishing Award winner, and winner of the 2022 World Press Freedom Award. She is also the vice-president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

Thursday, November 23

Panel 1: Confronting Power

Kelly Bronson

Kelly Bronson

Kelly Bronson is a Canada Research Chair in Science & Society at University of Ottawa in Canada. She has a background in biology and genetics but now is a social scientist studying the societal and ethical implications of controversial technologies—from GMOs to big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). She has intervened into technology policy and has published her academic work in national (Canadian Journal of Communication) and international journals (Science as Culture, Journal of Responsible Innovation, Big Data and Society). Her new book is on data and AI in agriculture and is titled, Immaculate Conception of Data: Agribusiness, activists and their shared politics of the future.

Kelly’s presentation focused on Power, Equity and Agricultural Data.

Kelly Bronson

Timothy A. Wise

Timothy A. Wise is a senior advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy [IATP], where his work focuses on agribusiness, family farmers and the future of food, based on his recent book, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food (The New Press). Tim has a long history of collaboration with IATP on issues including agricultural dumping, U.S. agricultural subsidies and policies, responses to the 2007-8 global food crisis, the WTO and Mexico under NAFTA. He was a senior advisor with the Small Planet Institute, where he directed the Land and Food Rights Program from 2016-2020. He is also a senior research fellow at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute, where he founded and directed its Globalization and Sustainable Development Program. He previously served as executive director of the U.S.-based aid agency Grassroots International. He is also the author of Confronting Globalization: Economic Integration and Popular Resistance in Mexico.

Timothy’s presentation focused on Agribusiness, Family Farmers & the Battle for the Future of Food.

Kelly Bronson

Stewart Trew

Stuart Trew joined the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [CCPA] in 2014 as Editor of the Monitor magazine and has produced number of CCPA publications including The Harper Record: 2009-2015 (with Teresa Healy), Making Sense of CETA (with Scott Sinclair and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood), and the 2016 Lorimer anthology, The TPP and Canada: A Citizen’s Guide (with Scott Sinclair). He took on the role of Director of the CCPA’s Trade and Investment Research Project in February 2021.  Stuart has a BA in journalism and political science and a MA in political economy from Carleton University. Between 2006 and 2014, he was a trade researcher and campaigner with the Council of Canadians. In 2009, he co-founded the Trade Justice Network, which continues to bring together labour, environmental, student, human rights and other social justice groups to contest neoliberal trade rules and propose progressive alternatives.

Stewart Trew’s presentation focused on The Fight for Trade Justice in a Contested Global Order.

Friday, November 24

Panel 2: Organizing for Change

Kelly Bronson

Karen Ross

Karen Ross (she/her) has worked with farmers and policy makers on sustainable food systems for over 15 years, with a strong focus on supporting farmers to improve environmental outcomes and meet the challenges of climate change. As Executive Director of Farmers for Climate Solutions(FCS)  Karen has built strong and diverse networks across the agriculture sector in Canada. She has served in various advisory roles to the government, and has been appointed by Cabinet to the Net-Zero Advisory Body. With a PhD and advanced degrees in agrarian political ecology and environmental biology and as an author on several peer-reviewed papers, Karen has a firm grounding in the value of credible research to inform farmer decision making, policy and programs in the field. As a small scale farmer herself, she knows the rewards and challenges of farming in a climate changing world and she is committed to ensuring agricultural production benefits farmers, health, environment and the economy.

Karen’s Presentation focused on Rising up to a Massive Challenge Through Coalition Building.

Kelly Bronson

Stewart Wells

Stewart Wells and his partner, Terry Toews, live on the original homestead of his grandparents and are the third generation to operate the family farm in southwest Saskatchewan near Swift Current. On their 3500 acres they grow certified organic grain, alfalfa and pulse crops, and rent 1200 acres of permanent pasture to neighbors. Stewart has experience serving on many farm organizations, including the NFU, the Canadian Agri-food Policy Institute, the Canadian Wheat Board, and the Western Grains Research Foundation. Stewart is a past President of the NFU, and has most recently been serving as 2nd Vice President (Operations).

Stewart’s presentation focused on How Do We Organize For Change (NFU History).

Kelly Bronson

Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson is a researcher, teacher and community organizer based in unceded unsurrendered Algonquin territory, Ottawa. As an Associate Professor in the School of Social Innovation at Saint Paul University, she works on issues of food system transformation and collective organizing. Amanda is interested in how we imagine possibilities that are radically different from what we see in the world around us, and how we enact them in the here and now. She is exploring connections between food justice and prisoners’ justice. Amanda has worked with Food Secure Canada on new farmers, national food policy and northern food systems; with Growing Up Organic, a garden-based education program; she led policy advocacy and research with the Canadian Health Coalition, and is a long-time member of Punch Up Collective.

Amanda’s presentation focused on Organizing for Change—How do we win?

Saturday, November 25

Panel 3: Creating the Future We Want

Kelly Bronson

Gabriel Allahdua 

Gabriel Allahdua is a former migrant farm worker from St Lucia, an island in the Eastern Caribbean. He has been an organizer with the collective, Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) for almost a decade. He is currently an Outreach Worker working with migrant workers across Ontario. He was the first person to hold the position of Activist in Residence (AIR) at the University of Guelph, which brought activists and researchers together. Gabriel is the author of the book Harvesting Freedom published by “Between the Lines”. In this singular firsthand account, he reveals a disturbing system of exploitation at the heart of Canada’s farm labour system.

Amanda’s presentation focused on Organizing for Change—How do we win?

Kelly Bronson

Aabir Day

Aabir Dey (he/him) is the Director of SeedChange’s Canadian field program, The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. Aabir developed his passion for seeds (and an obsession for garlic) while working with Seeds of Diversity Canada to grow their Great Canadian Garlic Collection. He completed a Master of Environmental Studies at York University, researching organic seed systems in Ontario, before joining SeedChange. Aabir has been instrumental in shaping and leading the initiative’s training, research, and policy programs. Aabir is thrilled to be working with seed producers and farmers all over Canada to promote seed sovereignty coast-to-coast.

Aabir’s presentation focused on Advocating for Farmer-led Seed Systems.

Kelly Bronson

Aabir Day

Rav Singh (she/her) is a young and new farmer from Ontario. She operates Shade of Miti, a farm that specializes in growing South Asian vegetables such as okra and bitter melon. Rav studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph, and she centers community and climate education in her work. Since 2022, Rav has worked with the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario as the lead-farmer researcher on an okra variety crop trial. She is working on numerous community projects to make the outdoors and environmental education more accessible for youth, newcomers and immigrants. She co-founded the Mississauga Urban Hikers and the Peel Youth Food Circle which organizes hiking and outdoor events for newcomers and creates tree identification guides and gardening guides which are made available in different languages. Rav is the NFU Region 3 Youth Advisor and has been active in working with the community to protect farmland, specifically the Greenbelt.

Rav’s presentation focused on Land—Creating the Future We Want.

Thanks to our Convention Sponsors!