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Odyssey group scouting district’s needs

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District farmers will have the chance to share their concerns for the future as the Agricultural Odyssey Group seeks grassroots input this Friday night in Stratton.

The Odyssey--a coalition of Ontario’s major farm organizations and commodity groups--is sweeping across the province to examine issues in the agriculture industry here and put together a 10-15 year plan.

“We’re going to get the feedback from all sectors, grassroots, consumer groups, environmental groups, processors, distributors, and the provincial and federal government,” noted Susan Fitzgerald, the group’s executive assistant.

The group is comprised of a number of agricultural organizations which represent different groups within the farming industry, including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, Ontario Soybean Growers, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Tobacco Growers, the Christian Farmers’ Federation of Ontario, and Ontario Pork among others.

“It’s a coalition of the main Ontario farm organizations,” noted Fitzgerald. “They got to discussing how there is no vision or plan for the industry in Ontario.

“The strategic plan will sort of address where we have been, where we currently are, or where we will be,” she added.

The report is due next August and will be presented to all groups, governments, and farmers as a tool to ensure the ag industry grows and remains strong.

“It will really rely on the farm groups, and the farmers themselves, to follow through with it,” said Fitzgerald.

The local session is slated Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton.

Some of the issues that may be discussed are the environment, water and nutrient issues, food safety, farm organization structure, farm income, marketing, the marketplace, the rural economy, and the delivery of extension services and agricultural research information.

“Basically what they’re trying to do is prepare for farming for the future, any concerns or issues that will impact farmers in the future,” noted Betty Salchert, member services rep for the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture.

To date, the group has consulted with nine farming communities from the Ontario/Quebec border to Chatham, and will consult with three Northern Ontario communities, including Rainy River District.

Ron Bennet, of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, will represent the Odyssey group during Friday’s meeting in Stratton.

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