Good morning, and welcome to this Region 1 Convention of the National Farmers Union. Because of Covid -19 we are meeting in ways that not that long ago were not even thought of. We have all seen the importance of Agriculture during this time of the pandemic, in particular the importance of supplying and making products close to the market place. This is something that the NFU has advocated for many years.
Covid has shown that being in control of what happens on your farm helps to secure your future, which is why here on the Island we in the NFU work closely with the land issue, the Lands Protection Act and all that is connected such as water and air.
As you may know, there has been great pressure to have water made available for more irrigation, mostly for potatoes. We have been told by certain interest groups that if farmers do not receive the water, we will lose our farms. The NFU has worked to point out that water is only one part in why farmers are at risk. Corporate control of land , and processors being in direct competition with the farmers growing the crop are big factors in that risk. Any irrigation strategy must be tied to land, organic matter, health of the soil and how it is farmed. The NFU can take pride in pushing for such issues.
We have made presentations to the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly regarding land use and the environment. In January, we made a presentation to the Land Matters Committee. This Committee is yet another study by Government to make recommendations for changes to the Lands Protection Act. This group has completed its study in which it has given thirteen recommendations to Government to act upon. Our Provincial Government has tabled eight of these recommendations in the fall session of the Legislative Assembly. We are waiting to see what the outcome of this will be.
The NFU here in P. E. I. has many allies who are like minded in their thinking. One such group to which the NFU belongs is the PEI Coalition for the Protection of PEI Lands. The Coalition sponsored radio ads earlier this year concerning corporate and foreign land ownership as well as the ability of future farmers to have access to land.
Prior to Covid, we held a public forum to which over 250 concerned Islanders came to listen to a discussion about land grabbing and the 300 year-old lands debate.
There are many issues facing family farms during these times. These include industrial farming methods, global markets, shrinking margins, increasing fuel bills, the increasing use of fertilizer - perhaps one of the most pressing issues right now is climate change which will greatly impact agriculture.
The NFU is the leading organization in bringing awareness of this crisis to the forefront with solutions and suggestions and the need to tackle climate change head on. We must all do our part to help protect the land, air, and water and farm in an ecological, if not ethical way for generations of farm families to come.
Respectfully submitted by National Farmers Union, District 1, Region 1