Essex County council to consider reinstituting agricultural committee



By Ron Giofu


essex_county_seal copyEssex County council has shown an interest in bringing back its agricultural committee, or at the very least, talk in greater detail about farming issues.

Director of council services/clerk Mary Brennan told county council during last Wednesday night’s meeting the previous committee formed in 2005 but the committee “was rather short lived.” She said they “met infrequently” with her written report stating there were no meetings beyond 2007.

Brennan said committee members felt there were a number of issues that were outside the parameters of their mandate and thus, unable to be dealt with.

“Many of the issues initially identified as topics they might want to discuss were issues that were in the jurisdiction of the province or federal government, for example, government subsidies and marketing issues. It seemed that the various farm organizations already had better forums for addressing those matters with upper levels of government,” Brennan stated in her written report.

Other matters were more geared towards local municipalities and law enforcement, she noted.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) also has committees to deal with agricultural issues while regional chambers of commerce “have connections” with the agricultural community, she added.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos believed there was “value to engaging the agricultural community,” noting issues that could be discussed include flooding and food processing. He said there are no groups currently to refer to at a county-level and believed a new group could “evolve into something dynamic.

“I’d like to see some dialogue with local agriculture organizations to tweak the terms of reference to see where we can be a stronger voice,” said Santos.

Santos wanted a meeting to discuss all the concerns that are being raised and to look at issues that keep arising, such as flooding and the horseracing issue.

“Things seem to be happening by the numbers anymore,” said Santos. “We don’t want to be caught off-guard anymore.”

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara agreed with Santos, saying the county should be “proactive at looking at the realities we’re faced with.” Flooding and drainage are issues with McNamara noting that “Mother Nature is rearing up an ugly side” as well.

Warden Tom Bain questioned whether an agricultural committee being established through the Windsor-Essex County Chamber of Commerce would be a “starting point” for people with agricultural concerns to go through. McNamara responded that he believed that was more to handle trade issues rather than drainage.

“I definitely think there are issues we need to have discussed,” added Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche.

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