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Standing Up for the Family Farm


Joan Brady, a member of Exeter (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church, recently traveled to Rome to attend the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Dialogue on Family Farming.

She was there representing both the National Farmers Union (NFU) in Canada and Via Campesina, an international farm organization.

A farmer for 30 years, Brady spent a busy several days in Rome attending meetings, interacting with other participants, sitting on a discussion panel, and presenting. As the Women’s President of the NFU, Brady strives to ensure and facilitate women’s participation at the various levels of the organization and to offer her perspective as a farmer at the leadership table. The NFU, explained Brady, “acts as the farmer’s voice taking action, doing research, and lobbying on the issues that affect Canada’s farmers.”

Via Campesina is an international organization, of which the NFU was a founding member, with over 200 million family farmer members in 78 countries working to develop their own solutions and resources. Naturally drawn to justice issues, Brady said, “I have realized considerable comfort and satisfaction in working toward changing a system that does not value food production or the people who have dedicated their lives to the profession. I was very encouraged in the dialogue at the FAO.”

In her presentation focused on Women and Youth in Farming, Brady emphasized some of the strengths of the family farm: familiarity with the soil and growing conditions, knowledge of and a sense of investment in local communities, and “a framework of resilience that will feed the world—one family, one community, one nation at a time.”

Expressing a concern with the global market view of some of the larger farm organizations, Brady spoke for a more balanced view and equal access to land and resources for youth and women.

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