National Farmers Union convention, 2008

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Michelle
National Farmers Union convention, 2008

The NFU had their 2008 convention this weekend in Saskatoon.  Thought people might be interested in seeing a news report about it.  Judy Rebick was one of their speakers:

Quote:

Rebick drew parallels between food activists, many of whom are farmers, and those who facilitate Internet piracy. She says both groups are working to challenge existing modes of production.

"You're all part of a massive movement to take back control," she told the audience.

Rebick says online piracy, while illegal, is helping alert people to the fact that those who actually produce products -- be they cultural, industrial or agricultural -- earn much less than those who distribute them.

"The person building the car, farming the land or writing the song gets nothing," she said. "It's the distributors that get all the money."

Referring to food produced by corporate agricultural firms as "rotten" and "unsafe," Rebick said there's a global trend toward healthy, sustainable and locally produced food.

Evidence for the movement is everywhere, Rebick says, including community gardens, farmers markets and specialty diets like the 100-mile diet and the slow food movement.

"We don't have to build an alternative food system," she said. "We already have one.

"We just need to get the policy makers out of the way."

 

remind remind's picture

WTG Judy, wonder what else occured there? BA, got a report for us?

http://www.nfu.ca/

__________________________________________________________
"watching the tide roll away"

Bookish Agrarian

 

Where to begin

Well let’s start at the end and begin with Judy.  Judy was the last speaker of the convention.  It was a remarkable personal testament that on the afternoon of the last day of a very busy convention Judy had people in the palm of her hand.  In the craft of speaking, that in itself as a very poor public speaker is enough to give me pangs of envy.  Judy`s positive and reflective message, filled with honest assessment was one of the true highlights.

On the speaker end, the keynote evening speaker for the convention`s public session was Raj Patel.  He is the author of Stuffed and Starved and well worth the price of admission if you ever get the chance to hear him speak.  At work today I began the process of order the book to read it.  His description of how the world bank works, using the Robin Hood scene from Time Bandits will stick in my mind and the minds of every other convention goer for a very, very long time!

 On the policy side the long awaited release of the NFU groundbreaking report on the cattle sector was indeed a very important part of convention.  This report details how today`s farmers and independent feeders are adjusted for inflation receiving half of what their parents and grandparents received through the 1940s, 50s, 60s,70s and 80s.  It targets captive supply and packer power as major part of the reasons the family farm is under such economic stress.  You can find it under media releases and the longer versions under briefs on the main NFU website.  www.nfu.ca  (I still haven't figured out how to do links sorry.) 

I have rarely been to a farm organization or any convention really, that was so upbeat in the face of what is happening.  The things the NFU has been saying for years about the farm economy and the general economy are showing that the push for free trade has been a foolish one and we are in a spirit to go out and lead the way to a saner, more sustainable economy and community.

 

Thanks to Michelle, look for more from the NFU in weeks and months to come on rabble.ca

I'll take any questions from the floor now - Laughing

Bookish Agrarian

Oh hey maybe I do know how to do links.

Let's try

Here is the media release from the press conference that got my pretty mug on national tv

http://www.nfu.ca/press_releases/press/2008/November-08/NFU%20publishes%20major%20cattle%20report.pdf

 

And here's the Executive Summary

 http://www.nfu.ca/briefs/2008/Livestock%20EXEC%20SUM%20FINAL.pdf

 

By the way I hope Judy enjoyed herself.

 

George Victor

Thanks for the report BA. I hope the NFU is successful in demonstrating to the farm community exactly what is happening out there.

How can you get the messge out to the frustrated rurals of ONtario who tend to vote somewhere to the right of Vlad the Impaler? The "back off government" crowd?

And then there's the large farmer, on the side of the OFA and the status quo.

 

Judy was also great on the MMP campaign trail in Ontario has fall. Straight up .

 

Bookish Agrarian

Well George the NFU keeps trying.  We are growing, so that must a sign of something. 

The only way to reach out to some of those disaffected with our system is to listen to what it is they are really concerned about, not the symptoms of those concerns and then address them clearly and directly like the NFU report I linked to does.  We are trying to raise enough money to get a shorter version of the report into the hands of every farmer in Ontario right now, (and elsewhere) but that takes money which means recruiting more farm family members and associate (non farming) members.

George Victor

The mainstream press is simply a no go? Has anyone tried to develop contacts - either with the little rural weeklies or the big ones? (I know they don't like to anger the advertisers and chamber of commerce types).

remind remind's picture

Thanks BA, printed of the press release and the Exec report, going to give it out to the paper here, as well as local farmers I know.

___________________________________________________________
"watching the tide roll away"

Bookish Agrarian

We are doing a fairly good job on the smaller media.   Some guy writes a weekly commentary in Ontario for the NFU I know and it gets into lots of small town papers and on farmer friendly radio.  However, the big media tends to ignore the NFU, although there was lots of coverage about the cattle report so maybe things are changing.

The great thing about the NFU is that it is run by and for family farmers.

The problem with the NFU is it is run by family farmers and they are pretty busy people with not a lot of time to do media work.  But it is changing.

 

Bookish Agrarian

remind wrote:

Thanks BA, printed of the press release and the Exec report, going to give it out to the paper here, as well as local farmers I know.

___________________________________________________________ "watching the tide roll away"

 

Wow that's great, tell them to cal us if they have any questions. 

Thanks so much remind.  I'm really proud of the document the NFU produced.

remind remind's picture

Okay, I will was going to anyway, if anyone asked, as I figured it would be alright. ;)

There is a large segment of mennonite farmers here as well, who I believe may be interested in such an action, as they used to be able to support themselves by working in the saw mills, now that outside resource avenue is closed and they are struggling.

Going straight to the paper with it tomorrow, when I go to town. And am then going to make several photo copies of the Exec brief for the farmers I know. They will love being in the larger loop than the paper is. The larger pdf report would take me hours to download on dial up.

___________________________________________________________
"watching the tide roll away"

Left J.A.B.

Sorry I missed it.  Sounds even better than Londons last year.  I guess the 40th Anniversary will be in Ottawa next year.  That should lead to raucous times again.

Read the livestock brief yesterday.  Now that is some hard hitting stuff.  Can't wait to see the pushback from the big players like Tysons and Cargill and their proxies in the CCA.

I hope the NFU is planning to get a shortened version out to the countryside. 

 

A little plug.  If you care about the food you eat, and you are not a farmer, you can still support this amazing organization by becoming an Associate member.  You get the NFU magazine, get kept up to date on issues and you can have the opportunity to meet some of Canada's best farmers- who may hook you up to some high quality local food.  I am sure having spent some time with them - Judy Rebick would agree you have never met a smarter, more interesting group of farmers in your life.  I remember David Suzuki being blown away by the NFU and this old farmer who got up and started asking very detailed questions about bio-science in a slow 'farmer drawl'. 

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Left J.A.B. wrote:

A little plug. If you care about the food you eat, and you are not a farmer, you can still support this amazing organization by becoming an Associate member. You get the NFU magazine, get kept up to date on issues and you can have the opportunity to meet some of Canada's best farmers- who may hook you up to some high quality local food. I am sure having spent some time with them - Judy Rebick would agree you have never met a smarter, more interesting group of farmers in your life. I remember David Suzuki being blown away by the NFU and this old farmer who got up and started asking very detailed questions about bio-science in a slow 'farmer drawl'.

 I'm joining!  Was waiting for payday and  just  finished addressing the envelope (along with all the other bills Yell)  this  am. 

Left J.A.B.

Wow that is great!  You won't regret it.  It is a truly special organization.Cool

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Left J.A.B. wrote:
Wow that is great! You won't regret it. It is a truly special organization.Cool

 I joined as an associate member because I wasn't sure if what we're doing here counts as farm.  We were in the co-op last week buying chicken feed and the cashier asked if we were registered because of something to do with taxes. I'm trying to figure it all out right now.  

Left J.A.B.

BA would know way more about this than me, but here goes.

Are you in Ontario?  If so you can join the Farm Busisess Registration process if you have $7000 in gross farm income.  Your FBR number is what gives you your PST exemptions on specific farm business related items.  (Salt blocks are taxed for instance yet they are crucial to healthy livestock, the same as oyster shell or grit for chickens) 

You can apply to an exemption to the $7000 threshold if you are a start-up farm operation and working your way to be over that threshold.  I never went through that process, but I recall you can apply for that exemption.  The NFU office would be a big help for you sorting it out.  The Ontario office can be reached at nfuo@rideau.net.  A very nice and helpful person called Marion can help you with the details.

 By the way the FBR number is also useful in getting your GST number which in turn allows you to claim back GST paid on things like machinery, water's and so on.

If PMs still work I would PM BA as he would be able to tell you all about registering, the NFU and chickens for that matter. Laughing

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

 Thanks. Yes I'll contact BA.  My questions are mainly around whether there's an issue about size or does it count as 'farming' mainly around what you do. We do live on zoned ag land but it's only 2 acres. However we will be producing and likely selling things like eggs and produce off of the property as well as potentially things like willow and other craft items made from what we grow.  It's interesting on trying to figure out where we fit it in.  Is it a 'farm' or just a a homebased business that happens to be based on things that come from our property. I would tend to think that we'd fall into the category of what now is generally called Micro-Farming but whether that's recognized by the government or the union is the question.  

 I wouldn't have even thought much about it until the cashier brought up the question.  So much to learn!

 

Left J.A.B.

Size doesn't matter.  It is just about the farm related income and that includes things you make from the things you grow like jam for instance, but yeah defintely talk to BA.

bush is gone ha...

I wish I were a farmer again (sigh).

 Most of my neighbours before I moved into the city were very left wing minded...But were not NFU members, there is a huge potential for organizing.

 

 

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why is it that polling booths look like cattle chutes?