What we do
The National Farmers Union - Ontario promotes policies that will revitalize agriculture in Ontario by strengthening family farms. On local, national and international levels, the NFU – O advocates alternative structures and government policies that resist corporate control of food. With farmers and consumers, the NFU – O works to encourage vibrant rural communities, environmentally sustainable practices and the production of safe, wholesome food.
The National Farmers Union – Ontario continues to experience growth. More and more family farmers are realizing that part of the solution is a strong farm organization that is willing to speak up for farmers and not be shy about it. The NFU – O has been on the forefront of speaking up for farmers on the farm income crisis, the loss of young farmers, poorly designed government programs that often never benefit family farmers, local food initiatives, payments for ecological goods and services and many other issues that are important to the future of farmers, our families and our communities. While some farm organizations are full of talk about their leadership, the NFU – O actually goes out there and leads.
NFU – O members believe that the problems facing farmers are common problems and that farmers producing diverse products must work together to advance effective solutions. The NFU – O works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit in Ontario.
Member families of the union believe that through an organization that represents all commodities produced in Ontario, it is possible to promote the family farm as the most appropriate and efficient means of agricultural production. Our goal is to work together to achieve agricultural policies which will ensure dignity and security of income for farm families while enhancing the land for future generations.
The objectives of the National Farmers Union – Ontario, as outlined in its bylaws, are:
1) To promote the betterment of farmers in the attainment of their economic and social goals;
2) To conduct projects for the benefit of farmers in the development of markets for, and the marketing of, farm products;
3) To achieve the reduction of costs and other measures designed to increase the economic benefits of farming;
4) To conduct educational and research projects for the benefit of farmers;
5) To promote and secure legislation and other forms of government action for the benefit of farmers;
6) To promote a higher standard of community in agriculture;
7) To provide services for its members consistent with its objects and work jointly with any other persons or organizations for the attainment of its objects.
Who we are
The National Farmers Union – Ontario is the only voluntary farm organizationwhich is committed to:
- ensuring family farms are the primary unit of food production;
- promoting environmentally-safe farming practices;
- giving farm women equal voice in shaping farm policy;
- working for fair food prices for both farmers and consumers;
- involving, educating and empowering rural youth for a better future;
- building healthy, vibrant rural communities;
- ensuring an adequate supply of safe, nutritious food for Canadians.
The family farm is the cornerstone of the system that provides safe, nutritious food to Canadians. City people, as well as farmers, have a stake in it. The National Farmers Union – Ontario is unique among farm organization in working for people’s interests against corporate control of our food system.
The National Farmers Union is made up of farm families who share common goals. Every member of the farm family – including the farmer and their spouse and children, ages 14 to 21 – are full voting members of the Union. This structure recognizes that every family member contributes to the farm by working on it directly, or indirectly through off-farm employment.
Associate Members are a valued part of the National Farmers Union family as well. Associate Members are non-farmers who understand that food issues are everyone’s concern and who want to help family farmers build a sustainable and nutritious food system in Canada.
The National Farmers Union is comprised of eight regions across the country. Ontario is know as Region 3 in the national context. The NFU – O has 8 elected council positions including a Coordinator/national board member, a Women’s Advisor, a Youth Advisor, 2 national board members, and 3 councilors at large. Ontario also has 1 paid staff – a Regional Office Administrator.
The NFU was formed in 1969 through the merger of the Saskatchewan Farmers Union, the Ontario Farmers Union, the Farmers Union of B.C. and the Manitoba Farmers Union. Prior to 1969, these provincial unions worked autonomously in their respective provinces.
Provincial Unions were at a disadvantage in working with the federal government. For this reason, they created a coordinating body, the National Farmers Union Council, consisting of representatives of the executives of each provincial union.
Over time, the officials and members of the provincial unions realized that the major policy decisions which affected farmers were being made at the federal level. At a joint meeting of the executives of the provincial unions in Winnipegin March, 1968, the executive members passed a motion to strike a committee to develop a constitution for a direct membership national farm organization.
The founding convention of the National Farmers Union was held in Winnipeg in July, 1969. In the following months the provincial unions were phased out and their assets and liabilities transferred to the NFU. Following the 1969 founding convention in Winnipeg, the NFU is the only farm organization in Canada with its own federal charter. The NFU was recognized by an Act of Parliament in 1970.