Ag seminar a chance to plan strategies

When the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture sits down next Wednesday (March 30) in Barwick with representatives from all facets of agriculture in the district, it is hoped that when they stand up again, they all will be standing together.
At least, that’s the hope of RRFA president Trish Neilson, who has organized the event.
Neilson acknowledged there are a variety of priorities and issues within the agricultural community that have hitherto hindered presenting a united front. The purpose of the seminar, which runs from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Barwick Hall, is to change that.
“Our goal for the day is to work co-operatively, looking at factors likely to have the greatest impact on the future of agriculture in the district and to develop strategies to deal with them,” Neilson said last week.
“It’s so important that we all get together. My goal is to get us all on the same page,” she stressed.
To help bring the disparate parties together, Neilson has retained the services of Ed Hoshizaki—a professional facilitator from Thunder Bay—to lead the discussion and help people find the common ground that Neilson says is so critical.
“His job is to keep us on track,” she explained.
For his part, Hoshizaki feels the important thing is for people to identify their priorities and come up with a plan they all can live with. He also intends to show people the tools already available to them, of which they may not be aware.
“I think we can establish what the priorities are and identify a strategy to move forward,” Hoshizaki said Friday from his office in Thunder Bay.
“In the process, you hope things come up where people say, ‘Gee. I wasn’t aware of that,’” he added.
Hoshizaki said he also intends to make people aware of programs and funding that already exist, and how best to utilize them to everyone’s advantage.
Neilson admitted certain issues probably will be foremost in the minds of some, such as the BSE crisis and the question of a district abattoir, but she insists those issues will not be allowed to dominate the discussion to the exclusion of others.
“We’ll be there to develop a full-blown plan,” she stressed. “There’s more to it than just beef.”
Neilson and her family run 50 head of beef cattle on their farm near Barwick, but she said he hopes people from other sectors, such as those who produce elk, bison, and hogs, will be a part of the strategy session.
“I’m hoping we can come up with some community-based solutions,” she remarked. “We’re all farmers and our voice is small to begin with, so we have to communicate with one voice.
“My goal is to get us all on the same page.”
Lunch and coffee will be provided at the seminar, but Neilson said she would like everyone who plans to attend to make their intentions known to her no later than tomorrow (Thursday) so she knows how much food to prepare.
If you wish to attend, contact Neilson at 487-2519. You also can register by calling the other members of the organizing committee, Linda Armstrong (852-3645), Rick Boersma (483-5393), and Angela Halvorsen (274-9002).