This week’s guest commentary comes from Pat Jilesen, Board Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
A group of forward-thinking farmers made some very wise decisions for their industry many years ago. Their foresight established what would become the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). And as we get ready to celebrate 80 years in Ontario next year, it’s a great time to shout out to the local branches – county and regional federations – across the province that are also reaching big milestones.
It was 1936 when the OFA officially began representing the interests of farmers in Ontario. While the issues have changed over the decades, the focus stays straight and strong on advocating for a sustainable future for Ontario farmers.
Much of the OFA’s work happens deep in the heart of our rural roots. The OFA’s network includes 52 regional and county federations across the province. These local federations extend the farmer-led organization into every rural region of Ontario to support and serve the local interests of OFA members.
And this year marks some very significant anniversaries for some of our local federations. We are so proud to recognize 75 years of serving Ontario farmers for the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture and the York Region Federation of Agriculture.
Local federations are looking for unique ways to advance and advocate for Ontario’s agricultural industry, reflecting the changing face of our industry and the complexities of consumer wants. Bruce County Federation of Agriculture is hosting a special event to bring consumers and farmers together over a great local meal. This event comes on the heels of a special award for the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture. They were recently awarded the 2015 CKNX Radio Farm Advisory Board – an honour that recognizes the group’s local work to serve agriculture and their rural community.
None of these accomplishments can happen in isolation. The OFA’s team of 21 Member Service Representatives (MSRs) work in tandem with local federations as on-the-ground expert field staff. MSRs advocate for OFA members in their own backyard, reading to help with issues affecting individual farms or the region.
It takes an entire industry to keep agriculture thriving in Ontario. The OFA is proud of its rich heritage in the province, and honoured to recognize the accomplishments of our local federations. Let’s keep the momentum going that drives our farmer-led, dynamic organization as the advocate and voice for Ontario farmers.