Andy Walker

***A poll released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business just before Christmas, showing farming is one of the most respected occupations in the eyes of Canadians, certainly comes as no surprise It is consistent with a number of other polls and surveys that have crossed my desk in the 19 plus years that I have been doing the job. There is no question that respect is more than warranted. However, like many within the industry I'm sure, I find that respect level doesn't jive with frequent attacks in both traditional and social media, an ever increasing regulatory and bureaucratic burden and a rate of return on investment that often dips into the red. That doesn't seem to reflect what the survey suggests is a 96 per cent approval rating.

***The mandate letter handed to Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie Claude Bibeau contained little in the way of surprises. Some groups within the industry expressed disappointment the letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not contain more specifics on such issues as a new national food policy and changes to the Agri-Stability and the other Business Risk Management programs in the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. However, that is not really surprising either-- such letters just tend to lay out the broad strokes for the direction of the department in much the same way as a Speech from the Throne. The proof of the government's commitment (or lack of it) to the programs mentioned in the letter will only be revealed through action in the coming weeks and months.

***To help mark its 50th anniversary convention late last year, the National Farmers Union asked its only charter member who has attended every national convention since 1969 to provide a brief history of the organization's accomplishments and make some predictions for the future. Those of us who know Urban Laughlin well were certainly not surprised at the end result. The long-time Sherbrooke farmer has never been shy of expressing his opinion and his arguments are always well thought out and researched, helped in part by his sharp attention to detail, even talking about events that occurred decades ago. Hopefully, Urban will continue to be a fixture at local, regional and national NFU meetings for many years to come.

***Belated congratulations to Justin and Laura Rogers, who were named co-winners of the Canada's Outstanding Young Farmer award at a competition held in early November in Fredericton. The couple are the seventh generation of the Rogers family to operate Picturesque Farms in Brae, which grows pedigreed seed, forages and beef cattle. They won the right to represent the region in a competition held last March in conjunction with the Atlantic Farm Mechanization Show in Moncton. They become the fifth Island couple to share the national honour, proving once again Island producers take a back seat to nobody and the future of the Island's number one industry is in good hands. They shared the honour with Simon Michaud and Mylène Bourque, who run a dairy farm in Kamouraska, Quebec.

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