Mighty neighbourly: Florence farmer becomes leader of NFU meaning three major farm groups have heads in 20 minutes of each other

NFU Ontario president Emery Huszka of Florence

It’s an unusual situation that Emery Huszka hopes to use to farmers’ advantage.

On the weekend, the Florence farmer was elected the president of the Ontario arm of the Nation Farmers Union. Huszka has been active with the organization of 1,500 farmers for years and is also currently the Lambton County NFU president.

His election means the three leaders of Ontario’s three major farm organizations live within 20 minutes of each other.

Huszka is neighbours with Clarence Nywening who is the president of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and Don McCabe of Inwood is in his second term of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture – the largest farm organization in the province.

“My number one issue is the communication among all farm groups,” Huszka tells The Independent. “There are a lot fewer of us farmers and we have to do a better job in the farm community in areas where we have the same viewpoint to move things forward.”

Huszka admits there are some very stark differences in the philosophies of the farm organizations, but they do share some common ideas and all advocate to improve life for Ontario farmers.

“The NFU has always tried to put forth thoughtful criticisms, and they may differ from someone else, but it is important to ask the questions…We (the farm organizations) should talk to each other. I’m confident where we do see eye-to-eye we can work together.”

Huszka believes the NFU, CFFO and OFA could provide training opportunities, deal with succession planning and lobby on taxation policies together.

“Farming has to be economically viable; you have to make a living doing it and you shouldn’t have to be on your knees doing it,” he says.

Huszka admits the three groups have not worked together in the past but “if it is ever going to happen, the recipe is all lined up, the ingredients are all there; it’s just what we make of it.”