Assistance Grant and signage program major highlights of Ag. Advisory Committee in 2020

FUTURE FARMER- Emmett Rutgers tries his hand at feeding a calf at Everdean Farms. (Submitted Photo)

OLIVIA TIMM

FOR THE GAZETTE

The Farmer’s Assistance Grant and community Share the Road signs were two major highlights of the County’s Agricultural Advisory Committee in 2020.

Robert Rogers, Chair of the Prince Edward County Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) presented the group’s 2020 Annual Report to council Tuesday night.

According to the report, the AAC held seven meetings in 2020 and had several deputations, including a deputation by Rebecca Sweetman regarding the Farmer’s Market Start-up at the old Picton Fire Hall. 

Other deputations included the Environmental Advisory Committee regarding the Farming and Food Systems Working Group and the Prince Edward Agricultural Society regarding the Fall Drive-Through Event.

Sub-committees were created over the last year as well, the report stated.

The Agricultural Community Share the Road Signs, which was comprised of Councillor Brad Nieman and AAC Chair, Bob Rogers, formed the basis for the AAC report in October 2020. The work of the sub-committee, the report stated, recommended Share the Road safety signage at six key locations on County roads.

The Council Farm Tour for 2020, led by Rogers and AAC member John Thompson, was postponed due to COVID-19, but was intended to provide members of council with an opportunity to visit working farms, meet agricultural workers and farmers to understand the issues and concerns facing the agricultural community.

Rogers said with the current state of the pandemic and a potential extension of the lockdown, it is hard to say whether the event will take place this year.

“There was a great turnout at the first one that was held and it is certainly something we plan on continuing once it is safe to do so,” he said.

A third sub-committee focused on public engagement. Angela Miller and John Thompson were to lead an educational film, “Before the Plate” which was also postponed due to COVID-19.

Other matters considered and dealt with by the AAC in 2020 included changes to zoning bylaws to allow second dwelling units on farm and rural holdings, the backyard hen bylaw, Draft Official Plan, spreading of municipal biosolids, the Federal Carbon Tax and its impact on farming, impacts of high lake levels on farming, the tree bylaw and the proposed Provincial legislation regarding trespass laws and the Drainage Act for municipal drains.

The ACC report states these items were either referred by council or to staff, or were raised by the community as matters of importance or interest to the agricultural community.

Coun. Bill Roberts asked how the grant process for the Farm Assistance Grant program went last year, noting the relationship between the AAC and the County Foundation that administers the grant funding.

Rogers said to date, everyone involved has been happy with the rollout of the grant process, but that a meeting will be in the near future to discuss any changes. 

Council will be advised on any modifications to the grant and its process once that conversation takes place.