North American and European agriculture leaders came together in Prince Edward Island recently for the North American European Union Agriculture Conference. Held every two years, this year’s event attracted approximately 280 representatives from European Union (EU) member states, as well as Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Their goal was to discuss and share perspectives on some of agriculture’s most pressing issues, including trade, sustainability and innovation, responding to markets and consumer trends, food security and resilience in agricultural systems, and global challenges like climate change.
A team of Ontario Federation of Agriculture board and staff attended the conference, which was hosted by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
Although farmers in Canada or Mexico farm under different circumstances than their counterparts in France, Germany or Poland, they struggle with many of the same challenges, such as global trade and accessing international markets, growing regulatory responsibilities, inflation, labour shortages, and meeting demands for greater sustainability.
A leading issue facing all farmers, regardless of country is climate change and how to maintain production in face of more frequent extreme weather events, drought, floods and hot temperatures. This topic was particularly relevant as it was almost a year ago that Prince Edwards Island was battered by Hurricane Fiona, and the island experienced first-hand how essential resilience is in the face of weather disasters.
The conference was also an opportunity for leaders of various North American and European regions to have smaller meetings for more in-depth discussion on topics like plant breeding innovation, consumer trends and livestock disease preparedness.
Key takeaway from the event: Local issues are global, and global issues are local. Farmers in Europe and North American share many of the same challenges and it’s by sharing learnings and experiences that they can find and adapt the solutions for better outcomes.