Farmers gather at long last, hand out awards

The Grand Prize winner at the Crop & Seed Fair was Jérôme Rainville. Accepting on his behalf was his father, Clément Rainville, and presenting the trophy for the Caisse Alliance was Stephanie Levac.

About 50 people attended the West Nipissing East Sudbury Soil & Crop Improvements Association’s annual Forage & Seed fair on Wednesday, April 6, concluding with prize presentations to the area’s top growers. The meeting, held at the Cache Bay Hall, was the first such event since the COVID pandemic, providing a much-needed opportunity for area farmers to hear and discuss agricultural and industry updates in the area. 

Association President Frank Delorme hosted the event, which saw 9 different guest speakers on topics ranging from test plot updates to the science behind liquid fertilizers, tiling program reports, OMAFRA updates, as well as the actual competitions in forage, seed, cereals and legumes. Delorme said, “I think it was one of the biggest turnouts we’ve had, with some very good updates – on bird control, corn growing… We had a good competition with 11-12 participants and lots of good prizes. People were happy because the last in-person meeting we had was in 2019…  One of the interesting presentations was the meat plant, the gentleman from Ukraine… he has over 20 years experience.”

Oleksandr Zahrebelnyi of the Canada Meat Group told the audience of plans to expand to a 50,000-square-foot abattoir facility in North Bay that would eventually create 150 new jobs in the city as well as create new opportunities for farmers in the area. Having such a facility in the region could ease the financial burden and stress of shipping cattle elsewhere in Ontario and enable local farmers to increase their livestock count, providing real opportunity for the 900 beef farms in northern Ontario. A new facility would also open up a large potential for export. “Canadian beef is some of the best in the world,” he is quoted as saying, adding that 60% of production would be for the domestic market and 40% for export. Construction is slated to begin by the end of the year. 

Another speaker was Dan Olivier, co-chair of the 2019 International Plowing Match (IPM) held in Verner, who finally got his opportunity to address the farming community on the results of the event. Olivier said the IPM board was meeting for the first time in 2 years, noting that the Verner IPM was also the last one held. “I was scheduled to speak in March 2020, and everything was shut down.” Olivier spoke to the community engagement of the event, the 1300 volunteers, that “It was the first time in history that we had the involvement of a First Nation – Nipissing First Nation.”

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