Representatives from the Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA) met with Huntingdon MNA Carole Mallette and her team on February 10 to discuss several issues facing local farmers. The syndicate requested the in-person meeting to ensure Mallette was aware of the important work being done by farmers, especially in terms of agri-environment initiatives, and to highlight certain areas of concern.
Josiane Carrière, the UPA du Haut-Saint-Laurent vice-president, notes that as representatives of the 591 farms registered in the Haut-Saint-Laurent, the local syndicate is especially in tune with local producers, and that establishing a direct line of communication with the MNA is important for resolving situations and advancing local issues. “She is the gateway to the government and to its various departments,” says Carrière, adding the meeting was encouraging.
“She and her political attachés were actively listening,” Carrière says, noting Mallette was already talking about actions that could be taken to address several key issues. “In particular, regarding the new transitional regime for the management of shorelines, littoral zones, and floodplains, she understood the significance of having representatives from the Ministry of the Environment meet with the UPA to discuss and collaborate,” she explains, referring to the need for a clear set of rules to protect these sensitive zones while still allowing agricultural production to take place.
Carrière says another topic raised had to do with the difficulties associated with producing and selling direct-to-market agricultural products within the current standards set by the government. Both farmers and the government are looking to promote local products, but restrictive regulations and a lack of local processing resources, such as abattoirs, make this especially difficult for producers. Matters related to environmental concerns were also raised, including the dumping of imported landfill as well as the management of fertilizing residual materials (FRMs).
Carrière says the UPA has invited the MNA to a future meeting with the board of directors to further discuss these issues.