Atlantic farm federations form lobby group

Atlantic Canada’s four federations of agriculture have developed an umbrella group to lobby on ag issues of common concern, regional media report.

The new group, to be called the Atlantic Federations of Agriculture, had its first official meeting July 17, where all four groups’ presidents signed a memorandum of understanding, according to the newspaper Farm Focus of Atlantic Canada.

“Every province’s agricultural producers will not become homogenous (nor) abandon their beliefs,” said Rob English, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick and first in the annual rotation to chair the AFA.

The groups, he told Farm Focus, will be “working together to place the Atlantic provinces in the playing field of both national and international markets.”

Representatives from each province will meet on a regular basis via teleconference and will also hold quarterly and annual meetings dealing with the issues facing their industry, Farm Focus said.

In terms of addressing the needs of Atlantic Canada’s farmers at senior government levels, “I think it’s way better to go as a region,” Ernie Mutch, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, told CBC on Tuesday.

English told CBC he expected it will also be easier to get the groups’ common message to regional politicians, noting the new group has already been invited to meet with the Atlantic premiers and agriculture ministers.

“They don’t necessarily invite the four federations, but they do invite the four federations when we come as a group,” he told the broadcaster.

Farmers’ last attempt at an overarching regional lobby group ended in 2006 when the Atlantic Farmers Council folded, CBC noted, adding that the new AFA will function as an umbrella body, not a stand-alone entity.

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