Around 20 producers from the Haut-Saint-Laurent gathered for the fall consultation held by the local syndicate of the UPA at the Recreation Centre in Ormstown on September 14. The meeting was attended by Jérémie Letellier, the president of the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie; local president Michel Hébert; vice-president Josiane Carrière; and several members of the board of directors.
Letellier spoke candidly about several challenges facing the regional federation. In his presentation, he touched on the negative impacts of disastrous weather events and what he referred to as an inadequate government response. “In the Jardins-de-Napierville, it has been a catastrophic year. We are talking about losses in the millions for several large farms,” he reported, noting in some cases the losses were between 50 and 80 per cent. “The situation is so severe there will be a number of farms that will close if nothing is done.”
Letellier addressed several files pertinent to the protection of agricultural land, including new lines and posts proposed by Hydro-Québec, biomethane projects, and the construction of wind farms. “We are always walking on eggshells,” he said, noting that while the UPA understands the need for environmental action, “These are industrial projects on agricultural land, and we can’t condone these initiatives.”
He discussed the potential issues relating to government policy and changes coming to how wetlands, lakeshores, riverbanks, littoral zones, and floodplains are managed. He noted that the federation works to remind municipalities that wetland conservation and water management are important but should not be prioritized over the protection of agricultural land.
The president also touched on several of the different programs offered by the UPA, as well as the agri-environmental work that has been done through the Ferme AgrEAUresponsable bursaries and the Alus Montérégie program to improve water quality, biodiversity, and the creation of habitat for pollinators and wildlife. A total of 34 farms in the Montérégie participated in the Alus Montérégie program in 21 municipalities across eight MRCs.
Letellier provided a breakdown of the project to protect riparian buffer strips in the region. Free seed for the planting of buffer strips was distributed over 16 days this spring to over 220 participating farms, which translated into the creation of 900 kilometres of buffer strips. “We are quite proud of the results on this project,” he said.