RRFA updates strategic plan

Dave Ogilvie

Since its establishment in 1976, the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture has acted as an umbrella organization for the various agricultural producers across Rainy River District.
Meeting monthly, the RRFA actively has promoted local food production and proudly supported all initiatives that have improved the quality of life and livelihood for its members and all others living in the district.
Last Thursday (Oct. 22), the agricultural organizations across the district were asked to send representatives to a strategic planning meeting of the RRFA.
The purpose of the meeting, led by rural ag co-ordinator Jeannette Cawston, was to review the strategic plan that was developed in 2005, to discuss the group’s activities over the past three years, and to give input into future agricultural initiatives in the district.
The first part of the evening was devoted to examining the various activities which the agricultural producers have used to strengthen and promote their products over the past three years.
Those on hand followed Cawston as she used a flow chart on the wall to review the activities of the various organizations.
It became clear after a few minutes that many of the agricultural representatives had not realized how much had been accomplished since the last strategic review.
“It’s amazing what we’ve done in the last few years,” stated RRFA president Rick Neilson.
It was the consensus, of the groups represented, that together they have effectively strengthened and promoted agriculture in the district.
The Clover Valley Farmers’ Market, the food box program, and many other local initiatives have reinforced the importance of agriculture in Rainy River District and promoted the district’s products both locally and across the province.
Dick Trivers, of the Soil and Crop Improvement Association, also was on hand last Thursday to explain to those in attendance about the development of the Northern Ontario Agricultural Research and Innovation Network (NOARIN).
Each district, such as Northwestern Ontario, will have its own Regional Agri-Innovation Network as the project develops.
The purpose of this group will be to establish a network of farmers across the province, to improve communication, and to “tap” into government programs which promote research and innovative development in agriculture.
Cawston then organized the workshop members into small table groups. She asked them to examine the accomplishments of the RRFA over the past few years and discuss what they felt should be the “next steps” for agriculture in the district.
Each table recommended creative ideas they felt would further stimulate and improve agriculture across the district.
“The suggestions and ideas they came up with were absolutely amazing,” enthused Cawston.
The ideas and suggestions produced at this meeting, as well as those developed by the RRFA executive, will be forwarded to FedNor for its approval and implementation in the coming year.