From FCC Express
By Susan Mann
A newly-formed Ontario association of custom farm-work contractors plans to spread the news about the services their members offer.
The Ontario Professional Agri Contractors Association also intends to tell farmers about the regulations its member contractors follow and comply with “so farmers know if they hire a contractor who is a member of our association, that he is legitimate to do the work,” says acting president Sonke Claussen.
“There are some regulations that apply to contractors that don’t apply to farmers,” Claussen says.
Land-based contactors and supporters can join
Members of the association include manure haulers, along with contractors who do custom baling, harvesting, seeding, fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide applications, field data managers and crop consultants. Anyone who does land-based work is invited to join, along with others who support the custom services sector, such as equipment manufacturers and dealers. The association has different levels of membership.
So far, the association has 140 members.
“We are young,” Claussen says. “We are still signing up members and recruiting.”
The association’s mission is to be a professional farm contractors’ organization promoting sustainable nutrient application and crop management technology for responsible agricultural production.
Custom farm work is a major business
A group of contractors started talking almost three years ago about the need for representation, as the sector has become a major business in the province. A disease outbreak in hogs, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, was sweeping through the province and the contractors noticed there was government funding for farmers to help pay for equipment improvements and cleaning.
However, there wasn’t any funding available for contractors, despite the fact that they apply about 50 per cent of the manure and bio solids in Ontario. That’s when the founders realized an association was needed to represent the interests of contractors to governments and others in the industry.
The association, which is non-profit and incorporated, held its inaugural meeting in September and plans to hold an annual meeting in the winter where the membership can elect directors.
Membership drive continues
In addition to continuing its membership drive, the association’s organizers are developing a constitution and continuing to develop meetings, conferences and other ways to provide knowledge and information to members.
Claussen says the main issues the association plans to work on include participating in provincial government-proposed changes to the Nutrient Management Act, proposed rule changes governing farm equipment travelling on public roadways and bringing the Manure Expo back to Ontario in 2019 or 2020.
For more details, visit the website.