Canadian Farm Business Management Council

Canadian Farm Business Management Council
Au Coeur des familles agricoles (ACFA)

Au Coeur des familles agricoles (ACFA)

January 26, 2007 09:15 ET

ACFA/Rural Health Symposium: "Understanding Farming to Better Understand Farmers and Their Families"

MARIEVILLE, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 26, 2007) - On February 1, 2007, the aid organization Au Coeur des familles agricoles (ACFA) will hold a Rural Health Symposium at the Drummondville Best Western Universel. Chairman Claude Barnabe will open a daylong program of presentations on the theme "Understanding farming to better understand farmers and their families," designed to shed light on the reality faced by today's farm families.

As suppliers of the world's food supply, farmers have always been considered responsible and reliable. In fact, a 2006 study conducted by Leger Marketing ranked farming as the most admired profession after firefighting and nursing. Yet over the last decade, the agricultural foundation of our economy has been so profoundly shaken that its future now stands in doubt. In Quebec and across Canada, many producers are now living through uncertain times, causing abandoned farms and suicide to reach unprecedented levels.

According to ACFA director Maria Labrecque Duchesneau, "Farmers from many sectors and regions have agreed to come share their experiences. Farm management is growing more complex, producers are growing more vulnerable, and their isolation is made worse by the lack of understanding from a society that is poorly informed about their living conditions. To understand their difficulties, we have to understand the recent agricultural boom: to take one example, the link between farm and table is eroding, and depriving our producers of the rightful recognition that has driven them in the past. At the same time, we are also witnessing the birth of a grassroots movement that is struggling to reclaim what is on our plates, and reconnect with the producers of our staple foods. Re-establishing this farm-table link could represent one way of moving toward better communication."

Because of high seasons and irregular hours, farmers must often confine their social life to work activities. The blurring of personal and professional makes farming especially susceptible to unresolved conflicts that can stop crucial plans in their tracks. Great skill is required to negotiate the growing number of stresses, including temperatures, herd health, debt, technological upgrading and intergenerational relations. As a rule, farmers seek little help, and when they do, their problem has already come to a head. The health of their business comes before their own, because if the business fails, it means their entire world crumbles - with their family trapped inside.

Today, farming is taken for granted as a reassuring symbol of ongoing life. The threat to primary production places our entire food chain at risk, yet response remains muted for a lack of support and encouragement. Health workers and managers should be doubly interested in this rural health colloquium, on the theme "Understanding farming to better understand farmers and their families." They are invited to take part in a unique, first-of-a-kind opportunity to assess the scope of the problem and develop relevant strategy, this February 1 in Drummondville.

Note: Provincial Farm Stress Lines from across the country will also be in attendance, because farm stress is hardly confined to Quebec.

To browse the program, please visit the website below.

Contact Information

  • Conseil canadien de la gestion d'entreprise agricole
    Melissa Dumont, agr.
    613-293-0951
    Program and registration: www.acfa.craaq.qc.ca