RRFA board acclaimed for another term

There was no new president to welcome at the 29th-annual dinner and meeting of the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture on Saturday evening at the Millennium Hall in Stratton.
Incumbent Trish Neilson was eligible to let her name stand in the nominations for another term. When no other ones were put forth, she accepted the position for the coming year.
In fact, all of last year’s board was acclaimed to serve again, including Linda Armstrong (secretary) and Angela Halvorsen (treasurer).
Armstrong also was acclaimed as the director for Zone 1. The other directors will be Clayton Teeple (Zone 3) and Kim Jo Bliss (Zone 4).
“It won’t be like this next year, though,” Neilson warned, noting most of the current board will not be eligible to be nominated next fall and so new people will have to step up.
Rick Boersma was nominated to be the RRFA’s delegate to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) convention and annual meeting coming up Nov. 21-22 and he accepted.
Bernie Zimmerman accepted to be the alternate.
Meanwhile, Anna Boily and Dianna Gamsby were appointed to be reviewers of the financial statements for the 2005 annual meeting.
During her president’s report for 2004/05, Neilson informed those on hand how the RRFA undertook a strategic agriculture planning process, highlighting three main categories which emerged from reviewing the strengths and weakness of Rainy River District: alternative crops, added value, and communication plan.
In the framework, having the opportunity to introduce and support alternative crops in the region was discussed. One way to do this is to have people and groups with expertise, such as the local Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
The RRFA would like to see Eric Busch—a one-year research intern with the SCIA—continue his position for an additional four or five months, Neilson said.
It is hoped the Rainy River Future Development Corp. will pay his salary, if the RRFA sponsors him.
The RRFA also would like to see value added to Rainy River District products.
“If you have a guest speaker you want to bring in, or a trip or venue you want to attend, approach the [RRFA] and we will try to make it happen,” Neilson said, noting this would be an action to take to focus on added value.
Throughout the evening, the need for better communication within the agricultural community also was mentioned as a way to share ideas and opportunities, and to stay informed.
Neilson asked whether an agricultural website for the district would be a useful way to obtain information about events, programs, and news pertaining to local farming.
Changing the existing road signs to better promote agriculture also was addressed, along with whether the cost of purchasing the “Rural Voice,” a monthly publication featuring local agricultural news, is an effective way of communication.
The guest speaker was Al Hunter, land claim liaison and negotiator of the Rainy River First Nations, who talked about land purchasing, as well as the communication between farmers and the First Nation’s people.
“I think the farming community and the native community are two of the most natural allies we have today,” Hunter said. “There is something that ties us together that we need to protect and we can only protect together—and that’s rural culture.”
Hunter also made a proposal to the farming community.
“If you have no one to leave your farm to and you want to keep farming, but you’re getting up in age, we [the Rainy River First Nations] will purchase that land and you can keep farming.
“We’ll make sure there’s someone behind you to keep farming.
“How does that sound?” he asked over the applause.
The other guest speaker Saturday night was Paul Mistele, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, who described OFA’s number-one priority as farm income and the importance of cost of production insurance.
Ontario NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton, as well as local MP Ken Boshcoff, also made statements to the agricultural community.
A skit also was performed by the Rainy River Rural Safety Association as the evening’s entertainment.