Agriculture

Farming and related issues

Recent Posts

Tractor parade allows local farmers to pay tribute to hospital staff

It is one thing to slow down to go around a tractor on a backroad. But it is certainly another when you get 70 tractors, trucks, sprayers and other vehicles lined up. That is what happened recently. It was a tractor parade to pay tribute to frontline workers at Northumberland Hills Hospital and the Golden Plough Lodge. It was organized by the Northumberland Federation of Agriculture. Continue Reading →

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New rules for migrant workers and local farmers mean big changes, says activist

Close to 100,000 migrant workers from the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America come to Canada each year to work in the agri-food industry. Hundreds come to Northumberland to help, especially on the fruit and vegetable farms. Many apple growers will tell you, it is an essential part of their business. But with travel bans and concerns over the spread of COVID-19, there were big questions marks about what was going to happen this spring. Farmers lobbied hard and got exemptions, along with a financial aid package. So, these workers were given a choice to stay home with their families or come and earn money working on farms. For some, it is not really a choice since this money is more than they would ever make at home. Continue Reading →

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Farmers prepare to meet challenges in face of pandemic

You can’t say it is an everyday sight to see a group of field tractors surrounding Northumberland Hills Hospital, along with a line of pick-up trucks following close behind. But that was the scene recently during a tractor parade organized by the Northumberland Federation of Agriculture to thank all the frontline staff at the hospital. It is a rare sight to see farmers being so public. Usually, they toil away quietly making sure we all have food in front of us. And, while you may see the odd billboard reminding you that Farmers feed Cities, these are not the type of people who take a bow. Continue Reading →

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Farmers facing further hurdles as land speculators drive up assessments

Once more local farmers find themselves in a precarious position, drawing into question the sustainability of agriculture in Northumberland County and across the province. Members of the Northumberland Federation of Agriculture came before county council asking for a tax break to offset skyrocketing increases in the land assessment last month, only to be turned down. Bruce Buttar, a long-time farmer and member of the Federation, said some farms are facing increases of 123 percent, far above the provincial average of 64 per cent. This is placing a huge burden on local farmers, he said. Farmers already get a break. Continue Reading →

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Marketing board changes demand farmers, consumers on same page

If famers are not having a hard enough time dealing with this summer’s incredible drought, the Ontario government decided to hurt them some more. Changes to the Farm Products Marketing Act, recently proposed by the Farm Products Marketing Commission, wants to gut the role of one of the marketing boards, effectively wiping out the authority of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers. This means the body in charge of negotiating price contracts for 14 of the province’s vegetable crops, including carrots, beans and tomatoes, will be completely transformed. Until now, the system has maintained a pretty equitable deal between farmers, processors and retailers. Like all marketing boards, it provides stability of prices, allowing farmers to plan and invest. Continue Reading →

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County needs to back off local food charter

By Robert Washburn

If every household in Northumberland County spent just $10 per week on locally produced food, it would put an extra $16.4 million into the county’s economy each year, says a food advocacy organization. Considering the amount each family spends on groceries weekly, it is not much. But, the impact is profound. Now, the provincial government wants to make every hospital, school, municipality, university, college, long-term care facility and other public institutions promote the use of local food. Let’s hope this will mean these institutions will also be encouraged to purchase local food, not just talk about it. Continue Reading →

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Farmers’s request ignored by county council

By Robert Washburn

Northumberland County farmers got a slap in the face this week as Northumberland County council refused a request to lower taxes on farmland. Currently, local farmers pay 25 per cent of the residential tax rate. It argues municipalities like Durham Region, Halton Region, Hamilton, Ottawa, and North Bay charges less (in most cases 20 per cent). County staff dismissed the request, saying most of the examples given by the federation are cities (urban) rather than rural. Once the rural municipalities in Eastern Ontario were contacted, it turns out the rate is 25 per cent. Continue Reading →

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Farmers brace for hard times, while consumers face skyrocketing prices

By Robert Washburn

The drought in the United States, one of the worst in 50 years, casts a very dark shadow around the world as farmers are being crushed into bankruptcy and destitution. As political leaders south of the border gather to hold their respective party conventions, the stories of these small-scale farmers, who are being pushed out of the only life they have ever known, will be lost in the tightly wound world of political puppetry known as modern national election campaign. Canadian farmers face a different story, one containing mixed messages, but it draws a similar political response from our leaders. Statistics Canada released figures last week announcing record canola production, along with increases in wheat and barley for the prairie farmers. A headline in the Edmonton Journal followed with headlines reflecting the cautious optimism of Alberta farmers as they are working to get the bumper crop into the bins. Continue Reading →

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