"It's a win-win
Beef farmers help
raise $108,000 for food bank
There were no beefs yesterday as
the Ottawa Food Bank and cattle producers got together to raise
$108,000 in a one-day Food Aid event at the Canada Agriculture
Media, service clubs, agricultural
organizations, the City of Ottawa and corporate partners supported
the day-long event. Despite the rain, participants enjoyed a
barbecue, live auction, entertainment, games and wagon rides.
"It's a win-win situation," said
Wyatt McWilliams, the farmer who came up with the fundraising idea
and approached the food bank with it. "I have a saying: if you ate
today, thank a farmer. Well, 37,000 people (who use the food bank)
in Ottawa have a saying: thank the food bank."
Money raised will allow the food
bank to purchase local beef and boost the domestic market for their
Mr. McWilliams and Peter Tilley,
the food bank's executive director, say the partnership makes
perfect sense and should be implemented across the country. Since
the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis hit Canada two
years ago and the United States closed the border to Canadian
cattle, the surplus of cattle has climbed and the market has shrunk.
If food banks added beef to the products they offer, it would help
ease that burden, said Mr. McWilliams.
The event was also intended to
raise awareness about rural life and help bridge the gap between
Ottawa's city and country populations.
"We're two per cent of the
population as farmers, but we feed 100 per cent of the population,"
said Mr. McWilliams. "Consumers, or anyone that eats every day, has
to support the farm industry, especially the family farms."
Several farmers said there is a
definite divide between the city's rural and urban areas and there
needs to be more understanding and co-operation.
"We're different out in the
country; we have different needs than the city people," said farmer
The City of Ottawa says it
recognizes these differences and the need to address them. So, in
response to a survey that found rural residents are less satisfied
with city services than urban residents, City Hall is considering a
two-day rural summit in the fall.
The summit, yet to be approved by
city council, would cost an estimated $150,000 and would be an
opportunity for farmers to voice their concerns.
"Urbanites are trying to run the
rural areas and they have regulated us right to death, as far as I'm
concerned," said Eric Dixon, a beef farmer for 40 years. "They are
trying to run the rural area the same as they do the city and that
just can't work."
Another farmer, Gabriel Lecavalier,
argued that city bylaws should not be applied to rural areas. "The
city has taken over the farm area, making it very difficult for the
farmers, with all of the regulations and bylaws."
Some of the issues farmers say need
attention are tax rates, by-laws regulating noise, animal control,
and property standards, as well as road repairs.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2005