Prairie farmers to receive invitation to first-of-its-kind forum on the future of agriculture
November 14, 2023 By Top Crop Manager
Over the course of four weeks beginning Oct. 31, 10,000 randomly selected farms and ranches in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will receive a special invitation to register to participate in an initiative never seen in the Prairies, in Canada or Internationally—a citizens’ assembly on agriculture. From these applications, 36 lottery-selected producers will gather to develop solutions to help protect Prairie agriculture’s legacy and shape its future.
“We believe that this is the right time to engage with Prairie farmers and ranchers to chart our own path forward in order to improve the resilience of our operations and ensure they remain profitable,” states forum co-leads Gordon Bacon, CEO Emeritus of Pulse Canada, and Ian McCreary, a grain and livestock farmer at Bladworth, Sask. “As producers, we haven’t come together in this way before. This is a historic moment for the sector.”
Across the Prairies, agriculture is under increasing pressure—farmers and ranchers face challenges from the market, weather, public perception and the potential impact of new regulation. The Prairie Farmer & Rancher Forum, a project of Farmers for Climate Solutions, is looking for participants to share their expertise and identify opportunities for a thriving agriculture sector in a changing climate.
“We are looking for farmers and ranchers from across the Prairies who are concerned about the future of our sector,” says forum chair Mary Smillie. “You do not need to hold specific views on the climate or environment to participate. All you need is to be a farmer or rancher from Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.”
The Prairie Farmer & Rancher Forum will be the first time that farmers and ranchers, representing a diverse range of operations from across provinces come together to share their perspectives, learn from each other and develop recommendations to drive the future of the agriculture sector—for Prairie farmers and ranchers, by Prairie farmers and ranchers.
“Together, this important group will develop recommendations that can be presented to those that need to hear them—those who shape the agricultural industry here on the Prairies, across Canada, and in markets around the world,” says Smillie.
Farmers and ranchers should check their mail to see if they are one of the randomly selected Prairie producers who have received an invitation and consider registering. Those who didn’t receive an invitation and are interested can learn more and register for the forum at prairie-ag-forum.ca. The deadline for registering is Nov. 28 — forum membership will be determined through a lottery the following week.
The forum is based on the citizens’ assembly model that has been used across Canada and internationally to provide detailed guidance to decision-makers concerning complex public issues. The 36 members of the Prairie Farmer & Rancher Forum will be selected to represent diverse views and experiences from different areas of the region.
The Prairie Farmer & Rancher Forum will meet for three multi-day sessions starting in January 2024 and will issue a formal report in late spring 2024. To learn more about the forum, and to register, visit prairie-ag-forum.ca.