Funding rank-and-file workers is not easy; These are social workers who go to meet farmers who are experiencing emotional distress. In Bas-Saint-Laurent, many players in the agricultural community decided to set up an unusual activity to finance a service that they consider urgent.
“Since I’ve been in office, I’ve seen farmers who have a lot of needs, they need to talk, they need to express what they’re doing,” explains Pierret Dion, a rank-and-file worker in Bas-Saint-Laurent for a year.
For three years now, farmers in Bas-Saint-Laurent have been able to count on two consecutive workers. The effectiveness of this way of doing things no longer needs to be proven.
“A rank and file worker had to leave and the phones kept ringing wondering where she was. Farmers really need this, this is a really essential service,” said Gilbert Marquis, president of the Bass-Saint-Laurent agricultural producers’ union.
But finding funding for this service is a sinus of battle. UPA du Bas-Saint-Laurent must seek approximately $30,000 each year to finance 25% of the activities of its two rank-and-file workers. Au Coeur des Familles Agricoles pays the remaining 75%.
This year UPA has decided to organize the lottery in partnership with the agricultural cooperative Unoria.
“It’s natural for us [de s’associer]. We want our members’ assets, our members’ well-being as well. “, emphasized Oliver Pastor, CEO of Unoria Cooperative.
They will be giving away $25,000 worth of prizes. Many agri-related companies have decided to participate in this program in the name of mental health of farmers.
A service that is in demand
Hundreds of interventions have been conducted every year since 2020 by rank-and-file workers who go to farms for free to listen to struggling farmers.
According to UPA du Bas-Saint-Laurent data, in 2020 there were 322 interventions in the first year of the program in the region.
“I’m a big believer in that. I really want us to go to the rank and file and I think there’s still a shortage of them,” Mr. Marquis said.
The challenges they face are ever increasing.
“Interest rates have started to rise, inputs have tripled, diesel has doubled, tripled, relief we don’t have and we don’t have labour. It’s a set of things that depress you,” lists Mr. Marquis.
A total of 33,000 lottery tickets were issued. The various partners behind the project all want to find takers.
“It must succeed and it will succeed! And if it works well, we will do another one next year and we will aim even higher,” concluded Oliver Pastor.