Everyone has a different motivation to get involved in agricultural policy — sometimes family is an influence, other times it’s the drive to advocate on behalf of a certain commodity.
Essex, Ont., farmer Brendan Byrne was elected at the beginning of February to the position of chair for Grain Farmers of Ontario. Before being appointed, he served as a director for the last six years, has been on the executive for the last three years, and was a delegate when the organization first formed.
For Byrne, his family was involved in leadership positions and that, in combination with being encouraged himself, propelled him into different ag policy roles about fifteen years ago.
“For me personally at the beginning it was just to show up and see what the different organizations were about and get involved,” says Byrne. He was actually nominated once for a role, politely turned it down, and was nominated a second time, adding that he slowly and surely got interested in being involved with producer groups.
Byrne sees being chair as a “fluid role,” that each chair that’s served in the past had their own sets of issues. He says it’s important to be approachable to members with the different items they bring to him — the first issue being the carbon tax and potentially getting some exemption for grain drying. There seems to be a disconnect between the federal government and the practicality of carbon tax policy, he adds.
“It seems like a lot of legislation nowadays that gets brought forward doesn’t really have a boots on the ground, so to speak, feel to it — where people are understanding that some of these decisions might affect people at a farm level,” says Byrne.
Listen in to the rest of Byrne and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney’s conversation for GFO’s stance on the Clean Fuel Standard, diversity, mental health, and more: