Dominic Perron harnesses the spirit of local collaboration to grow green
Like most farmers, Dominic Perron is up before the sun, tending to the animals at La Ferme Perron, the sixth-generation family farm that he operates with his two brothers in the Saguenay―Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. But after the cows are fed, Dominic changes from farm clothes to office attire as he switches to a new role, one that has positively impacted his community and introduced him to a new, greener approach to meeting the food needs of Canadians.
A growing collective
While farming is more than a full-time job, Dominic is fueled by his love for his home: “Saguenay―Lac-Saint-Jean is such a great community with a great range of producers,” he explains. That close-knit farming spirit helped give rise to one of the largest agriculture and agri-food co-operatives in Quebec: Nutrinor.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Dominic joined the co-op, hoping to help local farmers have a better understanding of what consumers are looking for when they pick up a carton of milk in the grocery store. When he joined, interesting work was already afoot at the co-op as Nutrinor members had just returned from a trip to Europe to observe international sustainable farming practices. After seeing how others took on agriculture challenges, the co-op began exploring ways to encourage Saguenay―Lac-Saint-Jean farmers to build on their great work for the environment and adopt new agricultural practices that would continue to protect the land, the livestock and the people, while improving their profit margins and making their products attractive to socially-minded consumers.
Dominic, a self-described lover of ideas, immediately latched onto this concept. He saw an opportunity to make his home a leader of green agriculture on the world stage. Little did he know that he was about to play a larger role in bringing this idea to life.
A pact for the future
Taking to heart his belief that “When you want to influence an organization, the best way to do it is by getting involved,” Dominic was elected President of the co-operative in 2019. His first order of business? Finalize the new Nutrinor Sustainable Agricultural Pact.
By signing the innovative pact, local businesses were committing to learn how to farm in an even more sustainable way, preserving Saguenay―Lac-Saint-Jean’s animals, land, soil, and water for the benefit of future generations. Nutrinor sends its experts to share new environmental practices with participating farmers, from upcycling, to reducing food waste, to measuring their carbon footprints. When Canadians consider a Nutrinor product, Dominic wants them to understand that they have put the health of the land, its animals and its people — first.
Because at its core, Dominic believes the pact is about people. A healthy farm needs healthy farmers, and he was adamant that those signing the agreement had good work-life balance: Do they have backup at the farm? How much sleep do they get? People need to be sustainable as well.
Dominic is proud of the work that he and his team have done to help his farming community adapt to their economic present while building a green and sustainable future. “I am the luckiest farmer in Canada. I have the privilege of being the president of one of the most beautiful co-operatives while remaining a farmer,” he says. “It takes incredible collaboration and a team effort.”
And there is no team more sustainable than a strong, united community working together.
What is an agricultural co-operative?
An agricultural co-operative is an organization that is collectively owned and governed by farmers. The farmers process their produce and goods through the co-operative, keeping all revenues within the co-operative. Agricultural co-operatives are commonly located in rural areas, use a democratic voting system to pass rules and regulations within the co-operative, and help support their local economies.