AFA Summer Meeting: a chance to discuss challenges and opportunities in agriculture

The Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA) will hold their 2018 Summer Meeting on June 26 and 27, 2018 in Camrose, Alberta.

AFA Members – and those interested in agricultural policy – are invited to attend the working session on June 26 to participate in discussions about the emerging issues that will most affect farmers in the coming year. There will also be a presentation on sustainable agriculture.

AFA AGM- Farm Meeting2AFA Director Humphrey Banack says he always looks forward to challenging debate and discussion when those passionate about agriculture get together.

“During the AGM, we gather with producers to debate and discuss top issues in agriculture, then use those policy directions to draw the future of agriculture forward,” says Banack. “The June Summer Meeting is an important way to check in on how we’re doing for the year and discuss emerging issues that have developed since January.”

After the day of discussions on June 26, the meeting will conclude with a networking barbeque to give those in attendance an opportunity to connect with each other and share good food, good company and discuss issues in agriculture in a more informal way.

Here’s the agenda for the Tuesday, June 26, 2018 meeting:

10 am – noon:  Issue Update & Policy Development: What AFA has been up to this year

Noon: Lunch at Camrose Resort Casino

1 – 3 pm: Discussion on the top emerging issues facing our industry in the coming year

3 – 3:15 pm: Break

3:15 – 4:30 pm: Sustainable Agriculture Panel

4:30 – 5 pm: Issue/Debate Wrap Up

5:30 pm: Steak BBQ at the Park Pavilion, Camrose Exhibition Trail RV Park

On Wednesday, June 27, AFA will hold their regularly-scheduled board meeting, of which AFA Regional Directors and former AFA board members are welcome to attend.

Please RSVP for this event so we can assess attendance and plan for our barbeque. Contact AFA’s Executive Director Shannon Scofield by email at shannon.scofield@afaonline.ca, or call us toll-free at 1-855-789-9151 or contact the AFA Director in your area.

afa-humphrey-banack-farm-safetyHumphrey Banack, who farms near Camrose, Alberta, reminds producers that it’s never been more important to speak up and drive agricultural policy decisions. He stresses that meetings like this are a direct channel for producers to let their voice be heard.

“At AFA, our people are working for a stronger industry for all,” says Banack. “Past discussions like this have laid the foundation for some significant changes in agriculture. It’s great to know you can have such an impact at a grassroots level.”

Have your say on Alberta’s agriculture issues and policy

Sometimes, when people hear the word ‘policy’, they can feel that these larger issues are outside their control and hard to affect. At Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA), we know that just isn’t true.

As Alberta’s general farm organization, AFA works hard to ensure that farmers and ranchers have a voice in issues, challenges and opportunities that affect Canadian agriculture, and Alberta producers.

iStock_000021185812small-cropHere are just a few recent actions AFA has taken on agriculture issues and policy:

  • when Bill C-49 wasn’t moving fast enough for producers and the industry, we joined Canadian farm groups to ask the government to move quickly to stabilize the rail systems by passing Bill C-49 with amendments;
  • on March 21, 2018, AFA presented to the Senate on climate change and shared our perspectives on the potential impacts for the agriculture and agri-food sectors;
  • on May 22 AFA presented to the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry on Bill C-74 (Part 5) on the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and how AFA feels that agriculture interests should be considered;
  • at AFA’s 2018 AGM, members passed a resolution asking us to investigate recycling options for agricultural plastics like grain bags, and we’re looking into this challenging issue.

AFA advocates broadly for agriculture, not just for one group or commodity. Wherever it’s needed – whether at the regional, provincial or national level – we represent our farm and ranch members on agricultural issues like taxation, grain transportation, labour and employment standards, and more.

Every day, decisions are made on legislation, policy and changes in the industry that affect your farm business. When you make your views heard – through organizations like AFA – you can have an impact on how these matters move forward.

Getting involved

AFA-Minister Carlier & QestionsThose wishing to get more involved in crafting the direction of the industry can do so in many ways.

Have you joined AFA? Becoming an AFA member costs as little as $125 per year for agricultural producers, farming partners, or farming corporations. As an AFA member, you’ll receive a monthly email update on issues in Canadian agriculture, a chance to table and vote on resolutions at our Annual General Meeting, and will be invited to attend our Summer Council Meetings. You’ll also receive exclusive AFA member benefits that allow you to save on vehicles, travel, insurance and more.

Already an AFA member? Plan to attend our next event: the AFA Summer Council Meeting in Camrose on June 26 & 27. With so much going on in Canadian Agriculture, we wanted a summer meeting for producers to meet with AFA’s regional directors and executive, plus other AFA members. We’ll discuss issues and opportunities in agriculture at the AFA Summer Council. Watch your email for details.

Want to share your opinions on agricultural happenings? Find us on Facebook and like or follow our page. Post your comments on our updates of importance to Alberta’s and Canada’s agriculture industry. Or, if you’re on Twitter, we would enjoy connecting with you there.

“AFA gives Alberta’s farm and ranch members a voice,” says Shannon Scofield, Executive Director of AFA. “There are many ways to be involved in our organization, giving Alberta famers a chance to be part of the process of influencing the policy that directly impacts Alberta’s farms, ranches and agri-businesses.”

AFA sees common ground with new government

The election of a majority NDP government on May 5, 2015, was a historic moment for Albertans. While the change in government may introduce some uncertainty in the short term, AFA President Lynn Jacobson sees a solid basis for partnership with the incoming administration.

“We look forward to working with the new government,” says Jacobson. “Many of the NDP platform items, such as a diversified economy and an improvement in grain transportation, also match our goals. These are issues we have been working on for quite a while.”

As we have since 1959, AFA will advocate on issues of importance to Alberta farmers, ranchers and food producers. Jacobson has already reached out to Premier-Designate Rachel Notley’s office to request a meeting with the new NDP rural caucus once it is announced.

On a diversified economy

AFA couldn’t agree more that the prosperity of our province not only depends on our oil and gas industry, but on having a diverse economy that emphasizes our agriculture industry. AFA is ready to share our knowledge and to work with the new government to perpetuate Alberta’s long-standing international reputation as leaders and innovators in agriculture.

On the issue of grain transportation

Although there has been some improvement in this area, grain shipments are still not moving at a level AFA would like to see. Jacobson chairs the Canadian Federation of Agriculture Transportation Committee, which in turn is a member of the Agriculture Industry Canadian Transportation Act Review Coalition. The coalition represents a majority of Canada’s largest agricultural product shippers and processors as well as a broad cross-section of grower-funded organizations. The coalition is working to ensure Canada has a competitive rail system that meets the needs of producers and exporters. AFA has also been active with the Government of Alberta Transportation Task Team.

Jacobson says he looks forward to reviewing in detail the new government’s priorities for agriculture and sitting down with its caucus in a mutually constructive spirit. He believes that there is great opportunity to advance the industry together.

“As Alberta’s largest producer-funded general farm organization, AFA is non-partisan,” Jacobson says. “Since we are not bound by any political party or sector or group, we are available to listen to producers across all agricultural sectors and be an advocate for the changes they are looking for.”

AFA’s AGM highlights water management in agriculture

Farming depends on many different resources, but without a sustainable supply of water, growing crops and livestock would be impossible.

Over two days, January 20 and 21, 2015, attendees at the Annual General Meeting of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA), heard about water management and its impact on agriculture. A series of outstanding speakers explored many angles of water and agriculture from: legal issues, public policy, water well management and emerging technologies.

“If we don’t get water management right, farming in Alberta can’t be as successful in the future as we have been in the past,” says AFA president Lynn Jacobson, who farms near Enchant. “We’ll continue to advocate for sound policy for water management and agriculture.”

Since 1959, Alberta Federation of Agriculture has been Alberta’s producer-funded general farm organization. Whenever decisions are being made that affect the province’s agricultural industry, AFA provides an effective voice for Alberta’s farmers.

Each year, AFA members attend the January AGM to propose, debate, vote on and form resolutions on issues that affect Alberta farm producers. Resolutions direct key priorities for the organization for the year ahead.

For 2015, AFA will continue its work on improving grain transportation, encouraging governments to invest in research and innovation, farm safety, and conservation, among other priorities.

Camrose’s Humphrey Banack, who serves as AFA’s 2nd vice president, says that it’s never been more important for producers to drive policy decisions.

“During the AGM, we gather with producers to debate and discuss top issues in agriculture, then use those policy directions to draw the future of agriculture forward,” says Banack.

Banack points to one instance where producers changed how their industry operates. At the January 2014 AFA AGM, farmers raised the problem of poor grain movement. Along with AFA, the farm organizations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan brought the issue to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which in turn raised it with the Federal Ministers of Agriculture and Transportation. By March 2014, these actions resulted in a mandated minimum level of service by the railways.

“Policy is as important as production,” says Banack. “Members of AFA have a direct channel to let their voice be heard. We ask any agricultural producer – whether in crop production, livestock management or value-added food production – to join us as we work for a stronger industry for all.”