By John Clement
December 23, 2011
Christmas is an important celebration on the Christian calendar. We believe that God became incarnate, offered his life to achieve our redemption, and left us with a mission to join in the work of advancing the “good news.”
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario finds its roots in the “good news” that life can be lived according to patterns that are both liberating for farmers and which build up families and communities. Many of our members believe that God has called them to participate in the biological cycle of food production and they value the development of public policies that help them as producers, marketers and citizens. Through it all, the members of the CFFO hope to be a blessing to Ontario agriculture.
One of the biggest contributions the CFFO has brought to the province is a focus on fairness in public policies. We’ve had lots of lively conversations amongst our members due to the fact that nearly everyone has their own particular take on what’s fair in a given situation. That being said, there are three broad areas that have defined much of the CFFO’s contribution.
A continual perspective within the CFFO is that public programs should never allow one farmer to “work the system” so that an advantage can be gained over a fellow farmer. Nobody wants to see public monies being used to eventually subsidize farm expansions, even though many want to see support offered to help farmers through market or weather losses.
Another perspective that is often heard singles out public programs that leave some farmers out of the benefits. For example, farmers can sometimes be disadvantaged because programs can reward specialization while ignoring attempts to manage risk through on-farm diversification.
Finally, CFFO members have been ready to offer leadership on fairness issues that focus on gaining access to market opportunities. For example, marketing systems may sometimes need tweaking to ensure opportunities to new entrants. This is always seen within a balancing act that tries to also be fair to farmers who have already made a significant investment in the industry.
That’s a very quick overview of the very practical aspects of how the Christmas story has impacted many of the 4,200 members who have chosen to join the CFFO. Whatever your perspectives on such matters, I wish all listeners and readers a blessed Christmas and extend my best wishes for the New Year.
John Clement is the General Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston and in Brantford and Woodstock. It is also found on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.