Alberta farmers feel like they’re in a fight for their farming lives. At the moment, the issue is Bill 6 – the “EnhancedProtection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act”, intended to protect the basic rights of farm and ranch workers. But many rural Albertans are concerned about what this legislation will mean for the average family farm. We’ve seen a lot of you voicing your concerns, signing the petition, and coming together as a community, deeply concerned for the future of this industry.
The bill applies legislation to ALL farm workers. It is highly unlikely that any farmers in this province believe that their workers don’t deserve protection or support. That is not what the backlash is all about. 90% of farms are family owned and the fact is that the majority of farm workers in Alberta are either family members, friends or neighbours. We are an industry that lives and breathes a culture of collaboration and support – where you step in where you are needed without thought for compensation or return.
The proposed Act will apply legislation to farming operations without recognizing the economic and social impacts it will have. One of the many young farmers we’ve seen voicing their heartfelt concern on Facebook is Daniel Schneider, who’s blog post has gone viral (with over 3,400 shares to date!), and the way he puts it is very representative of many of the blogs and status updates we’ve seen these last few days.
“it’s a bill that has the best of intentions, it is intended to prevent injury or death on farms. By all rights it sounds like the logical solution . . . Here’s the problem. We don’t want those rights, and we never asked for them . . . . Those affected by this bill were not consulted or given a voice on the matter.”
You can read Daniel’s full blog post here: http://tinyurl.com/oz964df
If this proposed bill was a project or initiative being proposed by a non-profit group and seeking government support, it would not meet the criteria for demonstrating collaborative efforts. Farmers must be part of this important conversation.
A series of town hall meetings are being held to present information and hear concerns and opinions. A collaborative process however,means working together to address the issue, educating each other and building trust, taking action and evaluating the outcomes. It will be important that the government process demonstrates the same guiding principles for collaboration that is expected of other organizations. It is our hope thatBill 6, rather than being rushed into legislation, would be taken under meaningful and careful scrutiny in a manner that involves Alberta’s family farmers and takes their concerns to heart.