Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture

We’re Hiring!

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA) is currently seeking a Program Coordinator to join its Outreach Team.

The Program Coordinator will be part of a dedicated team supporting the farm community, providing them with the resources they need to succeed and advocating in their best interest. Working in a position that will support farms in becoming responsible employers of choice while working to support a skilled workforce. The Program Coordinator will be essential to coordinating programming to support human resources and skills training, while working with industry partners to recruit farmers and farm workers to our industry through career promotion, temporary foreign worker and immigration programs as well as succession planning.

Application deadline: August 12, 2019

Job Posting

Title Change for Wanda Hamilton

From Financial Services to Communications to Associate Director, Wanda Hamilton has been with the Federation for over 15 years – receiving her 15-year recognition at our 2018 Annual Meeting.

An integral part of the NSFA team, Wanda led our recent strategic planning process – working closely with Yvonne Thyssen-Post and the Steering Committee to ensure the direction of our 2019-2023 Strategic Plan. As you know, NSFA underwent a staff restructure as a result of this Strategic Plan with Carolyn Van Den Heuvel, Maxine MacLean and Katherine Doyle assuming new roles.

Taking another step in our strategic planning tactics has Wanda assuming a new title, Director of Operations and Government Relations. While her role in the organization and key responsibilities will not be changing – the title change was recommended in order to mirror our Operations and Outreach structure.

The Director of Operations and Government Relations is responsible for overseeing the Operations team of NSFA, including issues, policy and research management along with building and tenant management.  Wanda will continue to provide a support role for governance through Executive and Council of Leaders as well as liaison with commodities, committees and government.

Congratulations Wanda!

EFP Program to be Re-Launched in Nova Scotia

As many of you are well aware, the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program has been under review by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (NSDA) over the past year.  Coming off the news that the EFP program was going to be shifted to another delivery agent, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA) and its members rallied to ensure the program continued to be delivered by the NSFA, an industry association.

After lengthy deliberations, the NSDA has agreed to continue with the NSFA delivering the on-farm portion of the program, with a significantly reduced budget. The new program will be benchmarked to align with the Farm Sustainability Assessment 2.1, which means the program will meet a recognized national standard – a direction NSFA had been advocating for a number of years. Our hope is that the program will then be used for marketing and promotion of farm products and support our efforts in gaining public trust in our food system. This work will be done through a 3-way partnership with the NSFA, NSDA and Perennia.

We are currently in the initial stages of planning exactly what the EFP re-launch will look like and have developed a task force and working group to lead this planning process. We look forward to seeing what the re-launch will be and will continue to advocate for a program that supports the best interest of the industry, while aligning with government priorities.

NSFA will continue to deliver the existing program at a reduced scale, with only two Coordinators, until the re-launch is finalized.

For more information on FSA 2.1 visit  For any comments or concerns please contact Carolyn Van Den Heuvel, Director of Outreach and Member Relations at or (902) 893-2293.

Developing Policy

Have your say – NSFA is developing Standing Policies for 2020!

Each summer, careful consideration goes into developing Standing Policies and associated messaging.  An important part of the policy development process is hearing from the people affected by the policies. There are mechanisms in issue management, watching trends, discussion at committee, Executive and Council of Leaders that provide input, however hearing from our members is key.  To direct action on a Standing Policy, we must convey the issue and the impact of an issue on farms (or the industry) along with practical solutions when lobbying decision makers.

We invite you to review the themes that the Policy Team have explored as key areas for NSFA Standing Policy 2020:

Agriculture Land: The focus has been for quite some time on ensuring healthy, viable agriculture land for current and prospective farmers.  Progress is being made under direction from the Agriculture Land Policy Committee, therefore actions for this policy will continue to progress the recommendations in the various land reports from the last ten years and implementing an agriculture land strategy for the province.

Labour:  The Labour Standing Policy has focused heavily on skills development, training and addressing the labour gap within the industry.  With recent funding from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, NSFA’s outreach team will be delivering training and resources to the farm community.  The Trade Advisory Committee continues to meet and inform the Farm Technician Apprenticeship Program which is expected to launch in 2020.  While the training and skills gap will be addressed in practice, other challenges with labour have been identified, particularly the regulatory framework.  It is suggested that the 2020 policy on labour will focus on how the current regulatory framework is a hindrance in addressing the labour gap.

Transportation:  The purpose of the Transportation Standing Policy is to focus on the impending regulations under the Traffic Safety Act (TSA).  Through NSFA’s Transportation Committee, NSFA has developed recommendations to improve moving equipment on the roads, licensing and registration under the new regulations.  Consulting and lobbying on the TSA regulations will continue to be a top priority for NSFA.

Regulatory Alignment:  This policy had different names over the years from Red Tape to Regulatory Burden.  The purpose has always remained the same – ensure that legislation and regulations influence a prosperous and sustainable future for Nova Scotia farms and farmers.  For 2020, it is expected that NSFA will continue to lobby on biosecurity training and procedures for inspection officers as well as reviewing challenges with regards to animal welfare.  From a monitoring perspective, NSFA will continue to communicate opportunities to consult on changes as they apply to farm businesses.

Soil Health: New for 2020, the Policy Team is introducing a Soil Health Standing Policy.  The intentions are to bring the importance of healthy agriculture soils to a top priority for decision makers.  NSFA has started work on this area, particularly in the land file. Considerations for this policy will include the development of a comprehensive soil health improvement program, protection from top soil removal and strategies to mitigate against erosion.

Draft versions of the policies will be available in October, ahead of the November NSFA AGM and will be presented on at County/Regional Federations’ AGMs in the fall.  In the meantime, for more information or to provide input on Standing Policies, NSFA members are welcomed to contact NSFA Policy and Research Coordinator, Maxine MacLean.  (902-893-2293 or

Statement: Agriculture On-Farm Student Bursary Program a Positive Initiative for the Industry

Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is pleased with the announcement regarding the Agriculture On-Farm Student Bursary Program. This program will provide high school and university students working on farm – family farms included – with funding to put towards their education.

While supporting their education, this program promotes students to seek jobs in agriculture. This program will also create awareness and support recruitment in the various careers connected to the agriculture industry.

“We see the program as a positive for the industry,” said Victor Oulton, President of Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. “This is a step towards inspiring the youth of our province to consider pursuing a career in agriculture. Whether it is on the farm or in a supporting role – youth in agriculture remain valued and essential to the future of our industry.”

Applications for the Agriculture On-Farm Student Bursary Program will be available on September 1.

More information on the program can be found here

Press release from Minister of Agriculture, Keith Colwell can be found here.



For more information:

Katherine Doyle
Communications Coordinator
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
Phone: (902) 893-2293

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture represents the interests of over 2400 farm families in Nova Scotia. Founded in 1895 to provide Nova Scotia’s farm community with a single voice, the NSFA is the province’s only general farm organization.


‘Tis the Season…for Open Farm Day!

It’s that time of year again! The sun is finally shining, fields are planted, crops are getting cut, you’re putting in long hours and may find yourself thinking about what’s next. Falling in line with harvest season is Open Farm Day. A chance to educate and excite visitors by showcasing the hard work and dedication it takes to run your operation and produce the food/products that reach their homes across the province.

According to the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s (CCFI) 2018 Public Trust research, only 36% of Canadians believe that our food system is on the right track. This is down 7% from 2017. Studies show that people trust farmers but not farming – trusting the person not the process – it’s time we change that.

There is a push for industry led public trust initiatives, at our Annual Meeting back in November public trust was ranked as the number one issue facing our farmers today. Open Farm Day is one key component of this approach – offering a hands-on experience and the chance to connect with consumers face to face.

Over the last 17 years, you have welcomed the public onto your farming operations, we hope you will join us for the 18th Annual Open Farm Day, September 15th 2019. Registration forms can be found inserted in this News & Views issue or online at

As a participating farm you must offer activities that will provide an opportunity to educate the public on how agriculture impacts their daily lives. For a full list of requirements, see the registration form. To ensure your farm is included in promotional material, please speak with Katherine by July 18th. A signed copy of your liability/insurance sheet must be submitted by August 2nd.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to:

Katherine Doyle: or (902) 893-2293

Lindsey Burgess: or (902) 893-2293

Farm Technician Apprenticeship

The Farm Technician Apprenticeship Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is continuing its work towards a trade designation of Farm Technician. Sitting on the committee are, Chair Kimberly Stokdijk and members Denise Bekkers, Lauchie MacEachern, Gordon Jackson, Angus Ells, Matthew Harrison and Henry Vissers, with support from the staff of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. The TAC is currently working toward a presentation to the Apprenticeship board in November of this year.

The development of the Farm Tech Apprenticeship stems from a NSFA policy which identifies the lack of skilled labour as a critical issue for Nova Scotia farms. Once the Farm Technician trade is designated, farms will be able to enroll existing employees that are interested in enhancing their skills

Apprenticeship is a form of post-secondary education for both young and mature individuals who want to be certified to work in a skilled trade. It is a combination of on‑the‑job and technical training where skilled trades’ professionals (certified journeypersons) pass on knowledge and skills to learners (apprentices).

Apprenticeships such as Farm Technician begins with an agreement between an apprentice and an employer. The apprentice, who would already be working for a farm, agrees to enter the apprenticeship program in exchange for supervised, on-the-job training and experience, and the opportunity to participate in the necessary technical training. In the workplace, apprentices are supervised by a certified journeyperson who tracks both their hours and competence in the practical skills of the trade. A farmer can apply for and receive a certificate of competence that would allow them to take on the role normally filled by a journeyperson.

Technical training is offered in class and/or online and is administered and arranged by the agency. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program (including technical training, on-the-job hours and competency in workplace practical skills), apprentices are eligible to write the certification exam.

In addition, there are supports for employers, as well as financial supports that are available to assist individuals on their journey from apprentice to certified journeyperson.

What to keep in mind: Labour Edition

Having employees on your farm means there are many regulations you must comply with under the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code, and for those hiring temporary foreign workers, the provisions set by the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP) and Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) programs. This article will touch on just two key elements of these requirements: partial hours and the importance of documentation.

Partial Hours

Partial hours applies to those working for an hourly minimum wage. This means there is a requirement to round time up. Therefore, when an employee works over the hour but less than the half hour, they must be paid for hour and a half (e.g. 7hrs 16mins – 7hrs and 30mins). While working over the half hour, it must be rounded to the nearest hour (e.g. 7hrs and 34mins – 8 hours).


One of the most important things to keep in mind is documentation and record keeping. Ensuring there is documents to backup any changes or decisions that are made. This is of particular importance to those hiring temporary foreign workers under federal programs.  In Nova Scotia, it is the highest standard between the Labour Code and the worker contract that stands.

Reminder that if any of the following apply to you, you must have documentation confirming the employee agreed to these conditions:

–               Day of rest: record the employee agreed to waive the day of rest

–               Hours worked: record the employee agreed to work beyond the hours stated in their contract.

For more information on the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code or to speak with someone call toll free within NS: 1-888-315-0110.

Recently, NSFA applied for Labour Sector funding in order to increase our support to members. We’re excited to announce that we have received our funding agreement! This will allow us to bring on an advisor, solely dedicated to labour, which in turn will help us provide you with more tools and resources to support you as employers. Working to increase our advocacy and educational efforts to address labour shortages, labour gaps, skills training, labour legislation and more!

Policy Corner

Policy Progress


Labour – Letter to the editor

In March a letter was submitted to the Chronicle Herald highlighting the positive impacts of Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP) and Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW).  The letter was in response to a reported comment made by an activist at a rally in Halifax on adequate housing.  This article can be found here.

Weed Advisory Committee

The NSDA Agricultural Weed Advisory Committee met with NSFA Staff to review proposed changes to the committee’s processes.  The Weed Advisory Act and associated regulations are slated for revision. Based on what was presented, a much-needed change is expected to streamline the processes for adding a plant to the Noxious Weed List.  Also, more educational resources on how to manage or eliminate particular weeds are expected and increased capacity for inspectors to ensure noxious weeks don’t get out of control.

SPCA Meeting

SPCA officers met with NSFA staff in early April.  The meeting was prompted by regular concerns from members with regards to animal welfare inspections for working dogs.  NSFA highlighted concerns around biosecurity and emphasized that working dogs are bred to do the job they do.  The meeting had positive and collaborative actions identified for both SPCA and NSFA.



Industry Issues



Resolutions were discussed at NSFA’s April meeting with Minister Colwell.  Minister Colwell requested further information on Gypsum which will be provided at the May meeting.

Rural Infrastructure

Rural infrastructure has been a priority area for NSFA over the years.  As a reminder, NSFA has a survey available on our website or by calling into the office. The survey is designed to identify the highspeed and cellular service gaps throughout Nova Scotia as well as the impacts that the gap is having on farms.

As an update, Develop Nova Scotia (formerly the Waterfront Development Commission) held stakeholder meetings through Nova Scotia.  Develop Nova Scotia has a broader mandate to help drive strategic economic development across Nova Scotia. Designing and managing the implementation strategy for the internet for Nova Scotia is priority focus for Develop Nova Scotia.  Develop Nova Scotia is looking to align themselves with various funding opportunities (federal, provincial and industry) as part of this strategy.  Also during the stakeholder session, the question was asked about cellular service throughout the province.  While the presenters from Develop NS indicated that Cellular Service is an important component of economic development, the provinces Emergency Management Office is taking the lead on the cellular service file.

There was concern around the governance of Develop Nova Scotia since the board was primarily from the Halifax region.  Since the board mandate has changed, the board representation has changed to include representation from across the province for a wider perspective.

Local Procurement

The recent resolution on increasing the amount of locally procured goods is being explored.  At a recent Atlantic Federations of Agriculture Meeting, the New Brunswick and Newfoundland federations indicated that both of their provinces are working towards improving their local procurement policies.  The language around those procurement policies wasn’t yet made public, but NSFA will continue to watch for progress and roadblocks that may impact our efforts.

Business Risk Management Update

Many members will recall the BRM Roundtable Update from the April News and Views.  Since then, the other provinces held their own provincial consultations and the National Programs Advisory Committee reviewed the findings of the provincial consultations.  There was general consensus across Canada to include family labour, equipment leases and contract work as eligible expenses and look at commodity losses rather than whole farm losses.  The Canadian Federation of Agriculture along with the AgGrowth Coalition (a group of national commodity organizations focusing on changes to the BRM suite of programs) formulated positions and actions of what they would like to see come out of the BRM review.  The group formulated positions on funding processes, the need for such programming, need for robust changes to the programs, options for alternative programs and analysis to accompany the options, and a position on next steps.

New Roles and Responsibilities

NSFA Staff Take on New Portfolios

Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has announced new roles and responsibilities for three staff members; Carolyn Van Den Heuvel, Maxine MacLean, and Katherine Doyle.

Recently, NSFA went through a strategic planning process, developing a new strategic plan that will guide the organization until 2023. During this time, it became evident that in order to successfully support and engage our members, the organization had to shift.

Through the strategic planning process key issues for the organization were identified. It became apparent that NSFA was attempting to juggle multiple priorities and with the current structure, was out of balance, with many employees handling countless portfolios and projects. As an organization, the Federation has been delivering programs and services for a number of years. For example, the Environmental Farm Plan has been operating within NSFA for 20 years, and the Federation has been closely linked to Farm Safety since its’ inception. There is now a push for new initiatives such as industry led public trust and labour services. In order to balance these programs with NSFA’s core functions, adjustments were made to the internal structure.  This will afford the time for staff to focus on lobbying, advocating for policy change and managing issues.  We are excited about the opportunity to best serve our members with these essential programs and ramp up our efforts to influence and affect positive change for Nova Scotia’s agriculture industry.

With the goal of better serving membership, staff within the Federation have joined forces to focus on two core concepts – Operations and Outreach. The Operations Team, led by Associate Director; Wanda Hamilton will focus on the lobby, policy, and advocacy piece of the Federation – as well as government relations and issues management. The Outreach Team, led by Director of Outreach and Member Relations; Carolyn Van Den Heuvel – is made up of programs and communications and will be focusing on program delivery, member relations, as well as marketing, and member communication.

Below are highlights of the new roles for NSFA staff:

Carolyn Van Den Heuvel – Director of Outreach and Member Relations


Carolyn will be leading NSFA’s Outreach team and programs including, Farm Safety, Environmental Farm Plan, Labour and Public Trust.

In addition, she will also be managing NSFA communications, member relations, corporate members and the member benefits package.

We are confident in her leadership abilities and are excited to see where she takes our Outreach team.





Maxine MacLean – Policy and Research Coordinator


Maxine will be managing and monitoring industry trends, legislation, government policy, and research. As well as coordinating briefing notes, reports, papers, and adopted resolutions.

Maxine will also be lending a hand in government relations and issues management strategies, and supporting communications from an operational/policy perspective.

With Maxine’s passion for policy we can’t wait to see where she takes NSFA policy, lobby and advocacy efforts.





Katherine Doyle – Communications Coordinator


Katherine will be leading NSFA communication efforts including: marketing, promotions, branding and media relations.

In addition, she will be managing all websites, social media channels, organization messaging, media requests, event participation, our publications, and will to continue to provide support for Nova Scotia Young Farmers.

Katherine’s passion for the industry and her public relations background is sure to be a great asset for the NSFA!


  1. Open Farm Day 2019

    September 15
  2. Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference

    October 27 @ 8:00 am - October 29 @ 5:00 pm
  3. Agricultural Excellence Conference

    December 2 @ 8:00 am - December 4 @ 5:00 pm
  4. Nuffield Scholar Orientation and Celebration

    December 4 @ 8:00 am - December 5 @ 5:00 pm
  5. Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer’s National Event- “Time to Celebrate”

    December 5 @ 8:00 am - December 7 @ 5:00 pm


7 Atlantic Central Drive
East Mountain, N.S.
B6L 2Z2

Phone – 902-893-2293
Fax – 902-893-7063