Established in 1936, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) was organized in response to the creation of the Canadian Chamber of Agriculture in 1935, later renamed the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. For more than 80 years, OFA has been a leader in results-based advocacy and lobbying, and is driven by our mission – Farms and Food Forever.
January 27, 1936 – Representatives of Ontario’s farm groups held a meeting at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto to establish a provincial brand of the Canadian Chamber of Agriculture. The new organization was named the Ontario Agricultural Conference. The first chairman was Herbert H. Hannam. Marketing policy issues was identified as a top priority.
1937 – The name was officially changed to the Ontario Chamber of Agriculture
1939 – The Ontario Chamber of Agriculture amended its constitution to allow for the admission of County Chambers of Agriculture as members. Peterborough County became the first County Chamber of Agriculture.
1940 – The name was officially changed to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture
1941 – The Ontario Federation of Agriculture hires permanent staff. Up until this point, it was strictly a volunteer organization.
- Beginning in January 1941, CBC ran an evening radio program sponsored by the Canadian Association for Adult Education and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture known as the Farm Radio Forum
- Farm Radio Forum became a major movement in rural Ontario
- The Farm Radio Forum provided a means of presenting key issues vital to agriculture by radio, and discussion of this material took place in forum groups of approximately 15 people all across the province. Some of them would drive as many as 100 miles to attend a discussion group.
- The early 1940’s saw the beginning of grassroots communication due in large part to the creation of the Farm Radio Forum
- At its peak, there were 714 forum discussion groups across Ontario with 27,855 people participating
1945 – OFA conducted its first major survey on the state of farming and farm organization activity. Extensive questionnaires were filled in and filed with the OFA by the agricultural representatives in each county and gave the Federations a very current and accurate picture of the needs, activities and interests of the farmers in every part of the province.
*OFA continues to use member surveys as a useful tool for gathering input and feedback on many aspects of membership.
1949 – The Federation started Co-operators Insurance Association of Guelph (CIAG) as a service to farmers. It started as a wholly-owned subsidiary of OFA. The development of Co-operators was due in large part to OFA’s reaction to growing member concerns regarding a need for insurance protection for farmers. OFA identified (through member concerns) a significant need to establish an insurance company that could meet the unique insurance needs of farmers, starting with automobile coverage.
1968 – OFA reorganized its structure to allow for individual farmers to become members of OFA. The OFA board of directors was comprised of individual service members (ISM), annually elected from their region and member organizations (county federations). Member organizations were county federations, commodity boards, provincial co0operatives and provincial educational groups.
- The first ISM membership was sold on September 12, 1969 for an annual fee of $20.00. By November 1969 at the annual meeting, OFA had collected 758 members
1970 – Direct member service is emphasized. The Ontario Farm Machinery Agency was established as a subsidiary of OFA to provide a wide variety of farm implements and parts at a substantial discount for OFA members.
1992 – Canadian Farm Family Demonstration on Parliament Hill – On Friday, February 21, 1992 every Ontario OFA farm family should add their voice to the chorus of farmers travelling to Parliament Hill to show the Prime Minister that the future of Canadian farm families must not be traded away. It’s time to get the word out to every farm family in Ontario. Join your farming friends and neighbours on the bus Friday, Feb. 21 at noon on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. OFA is farmers fighting or farmers!
- Almost 40,000 farmers and their families showed up at the Ottawa rally. It was heralded as the largest rally every held-on Parliament Hill.
1992 – Ontario farm organizations placed significant importance on this environmental agenda. A meeting, chaired by OFA President Roger George, was attended by 49 people representing 28 A working group was struck consisting of OFA, CFFO, AGCare and the Ontario Farm Animal Council with a mandate to develop a farm environmental agenda. As a result, the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan was established in 1992.
1993 – The first Environmental Farm Plans were completed in Ontario in 1993.
* Since 1991, more than 45,000 Ontario farm families have completed an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), resulting in millions of dollars in environmental improvements on their farms.
1993 – Farm Registration and Funding for Farm Organizations Act to provide secure and stable funding mechanism for general farm organizations was passed. The legislation was implemented in 1994.
1998 – In January 1998, over 4 million people lost power, many for up to 3 weeks, due to significant freezing rain covering Eastern Ontario as well as parts of Quebec and New Brunswick. The ice storm hit Eastern Ontario farmers especially hard.
OFA staff was instrumental in organizing the movement of generators from other parts of the province to farmers in Eastern Ontario.
2007 – After a series of meetings with members and County Federations across Ontario, including internal debates and meetings, a special meeting was held to ratify the recommendations passed at the 2006 OFA Annual General Meeting and Convention to restructure the board of directors. The board size was reduced from 100 to 18. The Policy Advisory Council (PAC), comprised of commodity groups and members from each region was set up to discuss and debate major farm issues, and provide policy advice to the board.
2010 – The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has worked closely with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and the entire food chain, to create the National Food Strategy® (NFS) — a vision for the future of food in Canada. The strategy includes nine objectives that will have a significant impact in securing a sustainable future for food in Canada.
Although the National Food Strategy® continues to be a work in progress, its vision and content has been the foundation for the development of OFA’s work towards Ontario’s Local Food Act. The vision of the National Food Strategy® is providing direction for its policies.
OFA’s display at the 2010 International Plowing Match & Rural Expo of a miniature farm and city, dubbed Foodville, made a visual connection between farmers, food and consumers. It created an opportunity to start the discussion with consumers about the need of a National Food Strategy.
2012 – OFA played an integral role in the development of HayEast 2012.
HayEast 2012 was a program with an Ontario contingent that was co-chaired by Mennonite Disaster Service and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and involved many other agricultural organizations across the country. The volunteer-run organization saw farmers, truckers, donors, individual companies and governments donate time, money and hay to HayEast 2012 following a drought that devastated field crops and pasture on many farms across Ontario and areas of Quebec during summer 2012. The HayEast 2012 mission was to help farmers sustain livestock through the winter following extreme drought conditions throughout Ontario during the summer of 2012. Western Canadian farmers donated hay to Ontario farmers in need. HayEast 2012 was a program mirroring the Hay West program from 2002 that saw Ontario farmers send hay to farmers in Western Canada.
2016 – OFA celebrates its 80th anniversary as a general farm organization representing the interests of Ontario’s farm families.