LANARK COUNTY -- After celebrating its 75th anniversary last year, 2017 may not be as eventful for the Lanark Federation of Agriculture (LFA) but it promises to be busy from an advocacy standpoint.
Throughout its history, the LFA has always advocated on behalf of its members. And that will continue this year.
Current "hot topics," according to Andrea McCoy-Naperstkow, a director and past president of the LFA, include the carbon tax, proposed closing of several rural schools in Lanark County and across the province and a draft policy by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) to designate non-provincially significant wetlands within the watershed.
Another issue the LFA will be "tackling" is the invasive plant wild parsnip. While McCoy-Naperstkow says the LFA and its members support the County of Lanark's spraying of county roadsides to help control the spread of the invasive plant, she acknowledges that the spraying is a "controversial" issue.
Also a concern for the federation is the potential impact of rising farm property values by MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) on tax rates.
"There are a lot of concerns property taxes are going to be affected by it," McCoy-Naperstkow stated.
The issue was a topic of discussion at the Feb. 16 meeting of the Lanark County Agriculture Working Group, on which she sits as a representative of the LFA. On the agenda was a request by the federation that the county reduce taxes for farmland property classes, in terms of the percentage paid of the mill rate, by five per cent from the current 25 per cent.
"There was very good discussion," McCoy-Naperstkow said, with action on the item seeing the working group recommend that the Economic Development Committee (EDC) of Lanark County Council support the request. The recommendation also called on the county to notify the LFA of the date of the EDC meeting when this matter is on the agenda for discussion.
With the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) looking at reviewing its structure, feedback is being sought from the county federations. The LFA intends to provide that input.
"It is an issue quite close to our heart," McCoy-Naperstkow mentioned. "...We want to make sure there's a good relationship with the OFA and LFA."
In the early spring, members of the LFA will be joining representatives of other federations and farming organizations for the annual Hill Lobby Day on Parliament Hill. The event is tentatively set for March 23.
"It's an opportunity where we meet and talk with politicians about agriculture," she explained.
While several special events were organized last year as part of the LFA's 75th anniversary celebrations, at least two of these initiatives will be repeated in 2017. These are the first aid course for members and a farm tour for municipal politicians in Lanark County. The Oct. 26 tour, which took in three farms, as well as Two Rivers Food Hub in Smiths Falls, was well received by the six members of the municipal contingent who took part.
Also "in the works," says McCoy-Naperstkow, is an Agricultural Wall of Fame.
"We are approaching some historical societies to see who might be interested in having an agricultural hall of fame," she noted, adding that the project, which LFA executive member Lorne Heslop is moving ahead on with help from the board, is currently in the discussion stages.
Elected as directors by the membership at the LFA's Annual General Meeting in October were the following: Ted Letts -- President; Lillian Drummond -- Secretary; Bruce Nolan -- First Vice; Rosemary Kralik -- Second Vice; Andrea McCoy-Naperstkow; Lorne Heslop; Dave Campbell; Alvin Dobbie; Richard Kidd; Roy Lightbody; Beth Yuill; and Deb Knapton -- Member Service Representative.
As of the summer of 2016, the LFA had a membership of more than 400 but, as McCoy-Naperstkow says, "we are always looking for more." Anyone who is interested in becoming a member is encouraged to contact Lillian Drummond at 613-256-3628.