Farm Renewal: the 48th Annual NFU ConventionWe have lost more than a quarter of the farms across Canada and the average farmer age continues to climb. Many farmers are looking for ways to pass on their operations to a new generation of farmers. We have also lost, or are in danger of losing, many of the institutions that were and are vital to rural Canada.

Renewal can mean many things but what the NFU will be exploring at this year’s convention is how we can reimagine, restore and reinvigorate rural Canada.

Convention Program Highlights

PUBLIC EVENT – Keynote Speaker
Thursday, November 23, 7 to 9:30 PM

Janine Wedel: New Influence Elites, the Corrosion of Democracy, and Trump as Trickster

Janine Wedel
Over the past year much attention has belatedly focused on the white working class and “populist” movements far and wide. But what about the behavior of elites that allowed this discontent to simmer for decades until it boiled over?

This talk by Janine Wedel will examine the latest scholarship, hers and others, to better understand how the activities of influence elites helped give Trump and similar figures his entrée. As both a public policy professor and a social anthropologist, she will also examine Trump’s role as “trickster,” how Trump and other taboo-breaking, sys

Janine Wedel is an award-winning author who writes about governance, corruption, influence elites, and accountability through the lens of an anthropologist. She is a professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, as well as a Global Policy Chair at the University of Bath, UK, and Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. She is the author of several prize-winning books, including Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom, and Politics and Created an Outsider Class; Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market; and Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe. She also published Political Rigging: A Primer on Political Capture and Influence in the 21st Century (2017, with Nazia Hussain and Dana A. Dolan); Confronting Corruption, Building Accountability (2010, with Lloyd J. Dumas); The Unplanned Society (1992); and The Private Poland (1986).

A public intellectual, Wedel has frequently contributed analysis pieces to major news outlets, and her work has been reviewed or translated into more than a dozen languages. A five-time Fulbright fellow, she has also won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, as well as major awards from the National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, New America Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Institute for New Economic Thinking, among others. Wedel is co-founder and past president of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP), a section of the American Anthropological Association.

Thank you to our keynote speaker public event co-sponsors

Syndicat Agricultural Union, Inter Pares, Council of Canadians and Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Thursday, November 23

9:00 AM: WORKSHOP 1: Succession Planning (presenter TBA)

10:30 AM: WORKSHOP 2: – Convention 101 with Cory Ollikka and Karen Pedersen

Kory OllikkaCory Ollikka is a 4th generation farmer from Waskatenau, Alberta. He operates an organic grain and beef cattle farm as well as holding an off-farm job in Municipal Government. Cory has held numerous positions at the District, Regional and National levels of the NFU since 1986 and was the NFU’s 7th National President from 1998-2001. He has helped chair several NFU conventions.

Karen PedersenKaren Pedersen is a 5th generation beekeeper who farms at Cut Knife, SK with her parents. She is a past NFU Womens President and past NFU Youth President. Before settling in Cut Knife, Karen worked on farms in the United States, Denmark, Grenada and New Zealand.

Thursday afternoon: PANEL 1– Restoring resilience, regenerating the farm
Speakers: Sarah Rotz, Anna Korzenszky, Meghan Entz

Sarah Rotz is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Geography Department at the University of Guelph where she studies the political ecology of food systems. Her passion for climate justice and interest in the political ecology of climate change vulnerability and governance, along with love of gardening, food, ecology, and political economy, drives Sarah to study how different food systems can mitigate and/or reproduce social and environmental injustice. Thus, her PhD research examined industrial and alternative food systems. Her research has been published in Geoforum, Captalism, Nature, Socialism, and the Journal of Peasant Studies as well as in popular media and blog sites. Sarah holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Anna KorzenskyAnna Korzenszky is from Hungary. She is exploring mechanisms for farm succession outside of the family as a possible contribution to the generational renewal of small scale farming and agrarian culture. In addition to her sociology studies at the University of Vienna, she has been active with the Nyeleni Europe Movement for Food Sovereignty and is a member of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization team in Rome that facilitates relationships between the FAO and civil society organizations.

Meghan EntzMeghan Entz grew up in a Manitoba family involved in agriculture, where she was inspired to focus her studies on the issues facing food producers in Canada and around the world. Since graduating, Meghan has worked as a consultant with the Canadian Foodgrain’s Bank, and as a Research Assistant under Dr. Annette Desmarais, Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Social Justice and Food Sovereignty. She was involved in an analysis of students’ food insecurity at the University of Manitoba and studied the NFU’s involvement in protesting the closure of the Federal Prison Farms. Recently she has been working on a project about the challenges and motivations of young farmers in Manitoba, Ontario and abroad. She is a Master’s student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Friday, November 24:

Friday morning: PANEL 2 – Renewing our Relationship to the Land
Speakers: Danielle Boissoneau, Christopher Kelly-Bisson, TBA

Danielle BoisonneauDanielle Boissoneauu is Anishnaabe kwe from the shorelines of the Great Lakes. She is a writer, a seed saver, a gardener, and works towards food sovereignty for her people through education and action. Her work might see her on the frontlines of resistance to tarsands expansion projects or she might also be found showing children how to care for gardens. Her dedication to the resurgence and revitalization of Anishnaabek food systems is rooted in her love for her people, the land and the water. Danielle has written for publications such as Briarpatch Magazine, GUTS Magazine and the Dominion, as well as being a contributing writer for the Two Row Times, a newspaper out of Six Nations, Ontario. She also works for the Hamilton Community Food Centre as the Community Action Coordinator. Here, she helps to empower community members to reclaim their food systems and their communities through a variety of means and projects. Danielle is from the Old Turtle Clan.

Christopher Kelly-BissonChristopher Kelly-Bisson is documenting the farmland consolidation by financial entities in eastern Ontario to determine the economic and political determinants of that result in this consolidation. He is a PhD candidate in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa and is the lead researcher on the farmland preservation policy stream for the Farming and Farmland Network of Sustain Ontario. As a member of the Ottawa Food Policy Council, he advocates for strengthened farmland protection bylaws. Christopher is an experienced horticulturalist and permaculture design consultant who started farming ten years ago as a field hand for an ornamental perennial farm and later operated an organic market-garden operation for five years.


Friday afternoon: PANEL 3 – Generating Farmer Power

Saturday, November 25:

Saturday morning: PANEL 4 – NAFTA 2.0: Questions of Power and Democracy
Speakers: Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Gus Van Harten, Chris Holman

Haroon Akram-LodhiDr. A Haroon Akram-Lodhi is an economist who focuses on the political economy of agrarian change in developing countries, the economic dimensions of gender relations, and the political ecology of sustainable rural livelihoods and communities in contemporary poor countries. He teaches at Trent University on global human inequality, the future of smallholder peasant communities in the world food system, the sustainability of rural social structures, relations, institutions and communities, and gender and economic policy. He edits two academic journals and has been appointed to prestigious roles in his field at universities in Canada, the USA, Mexico and at the United Nations. His most recent book is Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question. It explains how the creation, structure and operation of the world food system is marginalizing family farmers, small-scale peasant farmers and landless workers as it entrenches us all in a global subsistence crisis and how building upon the concerns of food sovereignty can solve the current crisis.

Gus Van HartenGus Van Harten is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto. Previously he was a faculty member in the Law Department of the London School of Economics. He specializes in Canadian administrative law and international investment law. His books include Investment Treaty Arbitration and Public Law; Sovereign Choices and Sovereign Constraints: Judicial Restraint in Investment Treaty Arbitration; and Sold Down the Yangtze: Canada’s Lopsided Investment Deal with China. His academic articles are freely available on SSRN .

Chris HolmanChris Holman and his partner Maria Davis own and operate Nami Moon Farms outside of Stevens Point, WI. The 41-acre farm focuses on pasture-raised poultry and hogs, perennial and annual fruits and vegetables, chicken and duck eggs, and small grains for feed components. Chris and Maria are lifetime members of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, and Chris currently serves on the state board. He also serves on the National Farmers Union (US) board as the representative for next generation issues. As a veteran, Chris has worked closely with the Farmer Veteran Coalition and he also served on USDA’s Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Maria works full-time off of the farm for WorldBuilders, a non-profit that raises millions of dollars each year for Heifer International. Chris has a M.A. in Geography from the University of Oregon. He taught Arabic and Middle Eastern Geography for 15 years before quitting his academic career to farm full-time.

Saturday afternoon: PANEL 5 – Cultivating Communities
Speakers: TBA – NFU members putting Farm Renewal into action on their own farms.

Convention Social Events

Wednesday, November 22— 7 to 9:30 pm NFU Brew: Hops, malt and you! Get together with old friends and new while enjoying some local craft beer, specially bottled with a souvenir NFU label.

Friday, November 24 — 6:30 pm to midnight: Banquet and Dance. Bring your dancing shoes to Convention! Jackson Miles is playing!


Registration begins at 6 PM, Wednesday November 22

Registration fees are $175 for NFU delegates, NFU members and non-NFU members (includes spouse and children); NFU Youth ages 14 -25, free; $85 per day for those not planning to attend the entire convention; $15 per day for students. Meals are not included. Registration is in-person only – there is no pre-registration.

Lodging and Travel

Room Reservations

To make room reservations, please call the hotel directly at 613-744-1060 or 1-800-387-9979 (toll free). Group Code: NFU or refer to the NFU Convention and dates of event. The room rate is $129 single or double, $10 additional fee for third/fourth person – available if you book before October 22. Parking is ample and complimentary.

Travel arrangements

For transportation, VIA Rail Canada and WestJet are offering special discounts to NFU convention attendees. VIA Rail is offering a 10% discount on Economy, Economy Plus, Business, Business Plus, Sleeper class fares from any VIA station to Ottawa and return from November 21st to November 27th 2017.

WestJet is offering a discount of 10% off Econo fares and 15% off Plus base fares. The offer is valid for travel between Ottawa and anywhere WestJet flies in North America if you book by December 7, 2017 for travel from November 17 to December 7, 2017. For information about how to take advantage of these offers, please email the NFU office at

The NFU extends our gratitude to our sponsors:

NFU48 Sponsors

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