Agriculture plays a crucial role here in Rainy River District.
To celebrate this fact, the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture is hosting an “Ag Day” for the second-straight year on Friday, April 13 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Emo Legion.
Its aim is to educate producers, farmers, land stewards, and environmentalists on a variety of relevant topics.
Some of the issues to be discussed include agricultural plastics, mental health, and new laws and regulations in the field.
“It is a opportunity for our agricultural producers in the Rainy River District to get together and learn about different topics that we feel are important to our community,” said organizer Lisa Teeple.
“It's also a chance to socialize with people in the community before we get to start on our spring seeding and planting,” she added.
One of the key issues to be addressed at “Ag Day” is the recycling of agricultural plastics, which include pesticide containers, plastic seals, ties, and twine used on straw bales.
These types of plastics currently are taking up a lot of space in Ontario's landfills.
“We're finding this is a province-wide initiative, as a concern, to many agricultural groups,” Teeple noted.
"And for the Ministry of the Environment, this is something they have on their radar.
“If we get a jump on it now, we won't get caught flat-footed in what we are going to do with our agricultural plastics that are non-recyclable at this point,” she reasoned.
In many places, these plastics are burned, resulting in a negative impact on the environment.
Many existing recycling programs for agricultural plastics are in the early development stages, but are growing in popularity.
In Manitoba, for instance, there's currently a government-assisted program in place to tackle the issue.
“This is something we should be advocating our own government to do, too,” Teeple said.
As well, there are new programs starting up in Saskatchewan, and farm groups across the country are looking to get a recycling program implemented.
“Clean Farms," an organization that advocates for recycling programs for agricultural plastics, is coming to "Ag Day” to help get the district's farmers on the right path.
“They will hopefully help us get this program started in our district,” Teeple remarked.
The RRFA has invited all the municipalities across the district, as well as First Nation communities, to this event.
Teeple hopes people will attend and bring what they learn back to their respective councils to help get a co-ordinated agricultural plastics recycling program in place here.
Meanwhile, another key issue facing farmers is properly dealing with mental health.
A speaker from the Canadian Mental Health Association will be at “Ag Day” to give a presentation on how the stresses and uncertainties of farming can affect a farmer's mental health.
The discussion is aimed at eliminating stigma while educating people on how to properly address mental health issues.
“Farming communities are one of the worse for getting help,” Teeple admitted.
“We are controlled by weather, controlled by prices," she noted. ”There is so much out of control.
"And it's almost a crisis, especially in larger ag centres than us, where there have been suicides.
“When you are losing your farm or have money pressures, what it does to the families and the individuals is devastating,” Teeple stressed.
Learning how to deal with the work-related stresses of running a farm can be instrumental in improving a person's mental health.
Teeple is encouraging everyone who might be interested in this event to come out and learn something new.
“It's always important to keep ourselves learning and adapting to what the laws and regulations are within our communities and within our province,” she noted.
“Education is never a waste of time.”
Teeple hopes to make “Ag Day” an annual event if it sees a good level of support this year.6