By Penny Eaton, Communications & Industry Relations, Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan
Hormones, GMOs, organic, conventional … is my food safe? Consumers today are bombarded with information about their food. What does it all mean? How is the food we eat actually produced?
These are the questions that are posed every day to Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan (FFC SK), which represents farmer groups, processors and agribusinesses in the province. The bulk of the organization’s work is focused on engaging consumers and building public trust in farming and food production. After all, less than two per cent of Canada’s population now has a direct link to a farm. Very few consumers have the opportunity to talk with farmers or to get an understanding of how food is produced.
Although consumer outreach is the main focus for FFC SK, another critical priority for the organization is working with farmers to enhance food production methods. This is where the new Crops Advisory Council and Animal Care Advisory Council come into the picture.
“Farm & Food Care is structured around three essential pillars,” explained Adele Buettner, CEO.
“Our main pillar is public trust and outreach, which is about engaging consumers in conversations about food and farming. We also have an ‘intelligence and support’ pillar that helps keep industry informed and responsive to up-and-coming issues and activities. The centre pillar focuses on training, resources and research to help farmers continually improve on what we do to produce food. Really, it’s about farmers ‘doing the right thing’”.
The advisory councils are just getting started in Saskatchewan. The Crop Advisory Council met for the first time in mid-March and the Animal Care Advisory Council met in mid-April. The Councils will provide guidance to the FFC SK Board on issues such as crop production practices, sustainability, food safety, producer safety, livestock handling practices and farm animal care.
FFC SK’s Councils are loosely modelled after Farm & Food Care Ontario’s Animal Care Council and Environment Council, which have been in place for the past four years. FFC Ontario’s Environment Council has led several projects related to water quality improvement and the Animal Care Council has recently delivered training and resources to producers on handling and transporting livestock. Over the next few months, the FFC SK Advisory Councils will be considering various projects to undertake.
“Farmers have always had to innovate and make adjustments for changing circumstances,” Buettner said. “With our Councils, farmers are again at the forefront, seeking constant improvement in the ways that food is produced.”
Want to get involved? If you’re interested in participating in FFC SK’s Crop or Animal Care Advisory Councils, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.