UPA-Estrie holds annual congress
Last Thursday, delegates from the different unions that are part of the Federation de l’UPA-Estrie came together for the organization’s 81st annual congress under the theme: “Together, developing agriculture”. “The deposit of a first Politique quebecoise de souveraineté alimentaire (a Quebec policy on food sovereignty) marks the end of a very long period of consultations and allows us to move to action,” said the vice-president of the Union, Pierre Lemieux. It was in those terms that he described the state of the spirit of Quebec farm families who, like their fellow citizens and their other partners in the food indus- try, have welcomed the policy that was deposited last spring by the Quebec government.
The farming sector waited several years for a policy that would allow the agri-food sector to position itself on all the markets, foreseeing the strong demographic growth of the coming decades. The Politique quebecoise de souveraineté alimentaire, as presented by the vice-premier and Minister of Agriculture, Francois Gendron, in this sense is betting on the strong trends such as the identification and increasing presence of local products, dynamic use of land, the development of our biofood potential and sustainable development.
“The farm producers of Quebec have specific expectations regarding, notably, the buying of local products and the amount of Quebec food on our plates. Remember that an increase of just one additional percentage point of Quebec produce on our plates translates into an increase of around $75 million in farm sales, as well as having positive effects on the economy of our regions,” continued the re-elected president of the Federation de l’UPAEstrie, Francois Bourassa.
The Federation de l’UPA-Estrie, in an effort to be an example, is in favour of buying the products of Createurs de saveurs Cantons-de-l’Est for their activities. The meals and snacks served at the meeting were almost entirely prepared with products of that mark. (visit http://createursdesaveurs.com).
The Federation also believes that it is important, if we want to exploit the full agricultural potential of our regions, to lift the moratorium on the expansion of cultivated farm land. Since December of 2004, the Reglement sur les exploitations agricoles (REA) does not allow for any more farmland being developed on the degraded drainage basins of 573 municipalities. It believes that this ruling is no longer necessary because the agricultural sector had adopted impressive sustainable farming practises. Only agriculture has been targeted by stopping its growth and, in many regions, the amount of land being cultivated is diminishing to the benefit of other uses, notably, for residential purposes which generates more phosphates per surface unit.
The existence of effective tools to support risk management in all sectors of production and offer producers a greater stability as well as a better protection of their activities, is also a priority. In this regard, the federal government’s budget cuts for risk management tools weakens more than half of our farming enterprises and the hesitation of Quebec to compensate for these budget cuts, by the creation of a transition program, is disappointing.
Another priority: the protection of the territory
The UPA would like the moratorium on the expansion of cultivated farmland to end.