Can you ever have too many farm organizations in what is a crowded and competitive field?
Itís like anything else. If thereís even a sliver of an opening, something will eventually appear to fill it.
Scheduled to hold its inaugural meeting March 31 (after press deadline for this edition of The AgriNews) at Trent University, Practical Farmers of Ontario sees a niche between general farm lobbyists and the commodity groups. With support from the Ontario Landowners Association, it intends to fill that niche.
Practical Farmers will respond to a "rapidly growing movement of independent family farmers" stretching across the province, its promoters trumpet. These farmers are involved in direct production and marketing of food to consumers and want to have a strong voice.
PFO intends to be an "open, supportive and diverse organization advancing agriculture thatís profitable for producers, sound for the environment, healthy for consumers, and supportive of communities."
According to organizers, none of the traditional general farm organizations offer their membership adequate advocacy on important issues such as land owner rights and direct access to consumers. Practical Farmers vows to help its members "take back their rights" for the good of agriculture and consumers.
If it all sounds familiar, itís because itís the OLA mantra with more of an agricultural flavour to it. Most of the guest speakers lined up for the inaugural meeting were prominent OLA supporters such as raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt, rebel egg producer Shawn Carmichael, and farmer and journalist Ian Cumming who relocated his dairy operation to New York State.
Thereís nothing wrong with that. The OLA has always championed the rights of independent-minded farmers and this new group confirms that connection, possibly opening the door to new farmer-members who didnít feel at home among the Landowners.