The Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens (UCFO) is looking ahead with new partnerships and maintaining its interests in the former Collège d’Alfred campus during its 90th year.

According to Executive Director Simon Durand, UCFO is trying to establish closer relations with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), National Farmers Union (NFU), the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO), and other francophone agricultural organizations across Canada.

UCFO owns and operates the Ferme d’éducation et de recherche du campus d’Alfred (FERCA), which is the lower campus of the former Collège d’Alfred, which was Ontario’s francophone agricultural college owned by the Ontario government and operated by the University of Guelph until 2015.  FERCA includes the former research dairy herd from the college and in addition to its own research, partners with Collège La Cite and Collège Boréal in delivering hands-on course experience for students in agriculturally-related programs.  The FERCA site is also home to UCFO’s administrative offices.

At UCFO’s annual meeting on March 21, Durand stated that FERCA will not become an agri-tourism destination and emphasized its first commitment is to research.  However, Durand said UCFO is interested in assisting in the development of agri-tourism opportunities.

At the annual meeting, UCFO members approved a resolution requesting FERCA to write a letter to Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman, and to Francophone Affairs Minister Caroline Mulroney expressing interest in taking over—but not owning the upper campus buildings.

Previous attempts by partner organizations to develop the upper campus as a centre for education and rural culture have been unsuccessful due to a lack of financial support from the Ontario government.

UCFO President Marc Quesnel of Moose Creek said the purpose of the letter is to pressure the government to retain the buildings for agri-food purposes, but UCFO is not interested in actually purchasing the property.

The annual Congrès agro et franco was held in Alfred on March 21-22.  This year’s event featured speakers and sessions focusing on four different themes; poultry, dairy, vegetables, and agri-food management.

In addition to Quesnel as President, the UCFO executive is composed of First Vice President Mirelle Leroux, Second Vice President Alexandre Chabot, Secretary-Treasurer Nicholas Dessaint, and Administrators Maurice Chauvin, Renée-Claude Goulet, Pierre Pasquier, and Thomas Vinet.