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Opinion: Gaining consumer confidence in the agri-food industry

Canada’s agri-food industry is moving forward with ways to strengthen and build its relationship with consumers. As consumers are more and more interested with what they eat and how it is produced, the industry needs to send a positive message. After all, the customer is always right.

Recently Farm & Food Care Ontario hosted a screening of the documentary film “Before the Plate,” featuring chef, John Horne, and real Ontario farmers who talk about their products. Most of the film was recorded on Ontario farms, documenting how food is produced, all while the farmers themselves explain what they are doing. The hope is that many consumers will view this documentary to learn how food is safely produced in Canada.

More and more, people are interested in learning how farmers produce safe food and care for the environment, and it’s more important than ever for farmers to have answers ready with strategies that work. The CFFO is working on one tool to assist farmers to care for the land they farm. The tool, called BOSS for Farms, will assist farmers in selecting the right mix of best management practices to meet the needs of their farms. BOSS stands for Best Optimal Scenario Selection. Gathering data toward building this tool has been the focus of our 2019 Policy Tour, entitled “Myths & Methodologies.”

The CFFO Policy Tour has just completed its fourth tour across the province, meeting with members of each of our 21 districts. The purpose of these discussions has been to gain information from our members on what they think are the best BMPs for their farms. BMPs are options that farmers use to grow crops or raise livestock, which results in the best outcomes for their personal goals. More and more, we realize that there is no one method or one piece of equipment that will work for everyone. There are a host of options to use, but determining which one brings the best desired results is often difficult.

Because farmers care for their animals and for the soil, water and air, they want to do what is best now and for years to come. Together, we can show people that farmers do care about the environment and their animals.

With the right kind of support tools, today’s farmers can make the best decisions for producing healthy food. This is the message of the “Before the Plate” documentary and the purpose of the BOSS for Farms tool.

Paul Bootsma is field services manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The article represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy.

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