County council open to reinstituting agricultural advisory committee

 

 

essex_county_seal copyBy Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council is open to the idea of bringing back an agricultural advisory committee after being requested to do so by a local farming group.

Essex County Federation of Agriculture (ECFA) president Lyle Hall and past president Mark Balkwill appeared before county council last Wednesday night asking for the reformation of a committee, believing one could be helpful in implementing agricultural strategies in Essex County. Among the issues identified were agricultural land use policies, agri-tourism, education and the impact of road and drainage work on farming.

“We’d like to see this kept on the front burner and developed, if possible,” said Hall.

Director of council services/clerk Mary Brennan told county council there was an agricultural committee roughly two terms of council ago but it was found that many issues were not under the control of Essex County, but rather under the umbrella of the lower tier municipalities.

“I think it’s something good. I think it’s called working together,” said Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio.

Fazio requested that a report come back from county administration on how to reestablish the committee.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara believed the county could serve as a liaison to the committee and work with agricultural groups such as ECFA. He believed it was important to keep communication lines open. Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst said he believes it was important and a committee could promote stewardship but the county has to sit down with groups like ECFA and have them understand what the county’s role would be.

Hurst added that it would be an advisory committee.

“We must make sure we understand that,” he said.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said there are “very important issues” such as roads and drains that the county undertakes that have impacts on farmers while Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche stressed the importance of communication, adding the county should have representation on an advisory committee.
Warden Tom Bain noted a request for an agricultural committee was deferred several months ago pending the creation of a similar committee by the Windsor-Essex County District Chamber of Commerce but Balkwill said it doesn’t cover the “in depth” issues they want to address with county council.

“We really want to have a liaison between the leading organizations on agriculture and county council,” said Balkwill.

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