Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) has incorporated a values statement calling for “diversity, equity, and inclusion” into its education and advocacy strategy.
Why it matters: Diversity policies to better accommodate and understand social groups are becoming increasingly common in both the public and private sphere, although are less common in primary agriculture.
According to BFO, the move was made to better recognize and appreciate diversity at all levels of the value chain. This includes taking steps to address systemic racism, as well as discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation, gender, religion, mental and physical ability, and language.
“We recognize the beef sector is not always a diverse industry, particularly at the farmer and association level,” says Rob Lipsett, president of BFO.
“Further along our supply chain, however, there is a great amount of diversity among the people dedicated to ensuring our product makes it to the tables of consumers. Likewise, our consumers are another integral and incredibly diverse group from all walks of life. We feel it is important to be a voice, build bridges, listen, learn and support all members of our community.”
The values statement is meant to recognize the need for internal development, says a press release. Methods of achieving that include listening to and collaborating with those communicating discrimination issues, speaking up against prejudice and discriminatory language, behaviour and actions, increasing understanding of how policies and programs related to agriculture affect Indigenous communities.
The full statement is described as a starting point for continuous and evolving efforts in pursuit of a wider cultural shift within the agriculture sector.
The full statement on BFO’s website, says board members and staff are looking at their organization and current activities to see where they can “do better,” and how diversity, equity and inclusion can be weaved into existing activities and programming.
Continued support for diversity-focused and promoting community organizations, such as 4-H, AgScape, and Feed Ontario, was also pledged.