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Just Chicken In On: Forum for Young Canadians

Aline Porrior

Since 1975, Forum for Young Canadians has been fostering leadership skills in young Canadians by giving them opportunities to learn about governance, democracy, and citizenship.  Each year, students aged 15-19 come to Ottawa for a week-long visit and meet with Members of Parliament and Senators, learn about industry-government relations, and forge new relationships with other young motivated Canadians, among many other exciting activities.The program provides them with a multitude of networking opportunities and the chance to translate their skills and knowledge into real community action.

This year, Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) partnered with Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC), as the Visionary Sponsors for the 2016 program, which is taking place throughout February and March. Last week, CFC and EFC participated in an MP reception, in addition to conducting a workshop with the students to educate them about the relationship between politics and their food.

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The MP reception was a great hit the students, as they were able to sample some delicious chicken and egg recipes, interact with fellow invitees, sponsors and MPs, and snap some memories at the CFC-EFC selfie stand. In addition, many of the participants took the opportunity to ask CFC and EFC officials all about farming, supply management and the importance of agriculture in politics.

The next day, participants attended an interactive presentation on the politics of food with Lauren Kennedy, Senior Government Relations Officer at CFC, and Lyne Robichaud, Public Relations Officer at EFC.

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The presentation began with the explanation that consumers send a message to the government without even realizing it, by doing one simple everyday action: purchasing an item at their local grocery store. Whether that item was purchased because of its brand, taste or even country of origin, the simple act of choosing a product creates a significant political statement. For example, every day, consumers buy Canadian eggs and chicken products, sending a message that they support and trust Canadian farmers. This directly impacts political decisions and even the success of these industries.

Following that, Lauren and Lyne explained the important role that supply management plays in Canada and its importance to the chicken and egg industries. They provided the students with some very interesting facts and titbits about supply management:

  • Supply management in the Canadian poultry industry was first proposed in 1948 to help the Canadian egg industry after England cut back its foreign egg purchases after World War II. In fact, supply management in its current form dates from federal legislation that was given Royal Assent in January, 1972.
  • Supply management provides Canadians with a steady supply of poultry and eggs, at stable prices, while providing farmers with a fair return. This return provides them with the confidence to invest in their communities, or even their farms.
  • As a result, over 90% of supply managed farms are in fact family farms, being passed down from generation to generation, some even reaching 10 generations of farming!
  • Together, the poultry and egg industries have contributed $4 billion in farm cash receipts, $8.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and $2.9 billion in taxes. In addition, supply management supports over 117,000 jobs, which can be found on farms, industry employed processors, hatcheries and feed mills.
  • Our farmers also help generate jobs in transportation, retail, and restaurants.
  • Another aspect is the creation of On Farm Programs, such as our Animal Care Program and our On-Farm Food Safety Program. Both chicken and eggs farmers work closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to create these programs, ensuring that they meet the highest standards in storage, cleanliness, air quality, feed, record-keeping and more. Both programs are audited by third-party auditors.

At the end of the presentation, the students were separated into groups to in order to discuss and present the benefits of supply management, the importance of farming, and social responsibility. Afterwards, the participants thanked both Lauren and Lyne for the great presentation and further discussed the subject with them at the end of the session.

As the youth of this country, their voice, their decisions, and their actions have meaning; it was an honour to meet with these bright young minds and discuss the power of food within politics. CFC and EFC would like to thank Forum for Young Canadians for this unique opportunity and hope the participants have enjoyed learning about farming and the benefits of supply management.

CFC looks forward to meeting students from across Canada during the next two sessions in March!

For more information of Forum for Young Canadians, please visit their website at: www.forum.ca

 

 

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