By Tom Collins
GUELPH — The new executive director of Farm & Food Care Ontario says farmers should never miss a chance to talk to the average consumer about what farmers do.
Kelly Daynard said this is the best way to deal with the animal activists whose only goal is to shut down livestock farming.
“There’s always going to be a sector of the population that are trying to put farmers out of a business, and that’s a sad reality, but it’s a reality nonetheless,” said the 48-year-old. “We never ever directly deal with animal activists. There’s no point in trying to have conversations with those people.”
A few days after starting the job, Daynard was at a birthday party when she got into a “rousing” conversation with one of the other moms about local food.
“You never know where you’re going to get the chance to tell your stories,” said Daynard, whose parents run a 200-acre cash crop farm outside of Guelph. She said farmers want to tell their story, either through social media or social events. The Breakfast on the Farm event near St. Thomas in June had 120 volunteers, and the organization had to turn away another 30 or 40 farmer volunteers as there was nothing for them to do.
Daynard replaces Crystal Mackay, who left the position to become the CEO of Farm & Food Care Canada in January, 2016. The advocacy group changed its name this year to Canadian Centre for Food Integrity. Daynard had been the interim executive director of Farm and Food Care Ontario since January. She had been its communications manager since 2012 and first joined the organization in 2005 when it was known as the Ontario Farm Alliance Council.
Some of the organization’s upcoming initiatives include new additions to the website Farmfood 360, which hosts virtual tours of farms and has had one million visitors since its launch in January, and the fourth edition of the Real Dirt on Farming booklet to be released in November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Daynard helped start the first edition in 2006.
“I remember thinking back then that if we printed 15,000 copies of that booklet, that should do us,” she said. “We’ve now put over 3 million copies out across Canada.”