Sharing Great Ideas, One Federation to Another
OFA supports 51 county and regional federations for strong leadership and local representation across the province. These 51 county federations make great things happen every year. As part of our ongoing mission to recognize and support County Federations of Agriculture, we have created a webpage to highlight some of the initiatives undertaken this past year to promote agriculture and the federation in our local communities.
The purpose is to share ideas and build on each other’s strengths. If you see an idea featured that could be a good fit for your federation, please connect with your Member Service Representative or the federation who organized the event for tips, resources or planning information to provide a framework to help you make the idea a reality for your federation.
The Algoma district Federation recently organized an all candidates meeting for the Manitoulin, Algoma, Kapuskasing federal riding. It was advertised in the local paper. A notice (pictured at left) was sent to all OFA members in Algoma.
The attendance was great (40-50 people). The candidates really appreciated the opportunity to make their platform, answer questions and participate in our democratic process. The local executive and OFA staff were integral in it’s organization.
Arnprior has hosted successful farm safety days on a variety of topics. The most recent one focused on the requirements for Fall Arrest and Confined Spaces, providing an opportunity for both practical hands-on learning and also explaining reporting requirements for employers.
For 24 years, Bite of Brant has brought together more than one thousand grade five students, parents, and teachers from Brantford and Brant County public, Catholic, private and Six Nations schools for a full day of hands-on learning about agriculture in Ontario. This year’s program was held April 10 and 11 at the Burford Fairgrounds. At this year’s event, students were able to visit stations on corn, soybeans, beef cattle and dairy cattle. Plans are to continue on this project as it has been a great success educating over 1000 grade five students every year.
BCFA – Medical Students Tour. First year medical students that have placements at some local hospitals for a week spend one day with BCFA. Bruce County directors chauffeur the students to a grain elevator, dairy farm, tractor dealership and then spend time at the local fire department where they hear from an agricultural news reporter and a veterinarian. They learn about everything from some common farm accidents and farm hazards to what it’s like living and working in a rural community. BCFA hopes to encourage future doctors to come back and practice in a community in Bruce County or another rural community.
Bill McCutcheon, DFA president is on an endless treadmill of communicating the ag sector potential to municipal councils. This is good for the health of Ag in Dufferin. Each year DFA picks a theme and makes a presentation to each lower tier municipality and often the county council. DFA does not bring an “ask” but rather informs and answers questions or concerns from councilors. Maintaining dialogue may take diligence but often pays off. DFA has been successful in the effort to reduce the Farm tax ratio. Dufferin County has hired an Economic Development Officer with a focus on the agriculture sector.
DFA has also made new friends like the Dufferin Board of Trade. Talk ag, promote ag, and repeat annually. It works.
Dundas Federation of Agriculture – Dundas Federation of Agriculture has taken the lead in organizing a Dundas Agriculture Gala. This gala recognizes all the agriculture commodity organizations in the county while raising money for various charities (food banks, hospice care). 2019 was the fourth year the Dundas Agriculture organizations hosted this gala. The groups generally raise upwards to $10,000 at each Gala which goes towards various charities in the county. At
these Gala’s – Recipients of the Dundas Hall of Fame are also recognized.
EAST NIPISSING / PARRY SOUND
The East Nipissing Parry Sound Federation hosts an annual symposium that highlights issues important to the local agricultural community. Previous topics have focused on farm safety, mental health, and food sovereignty. The Federation also partners with their local dairy producer committee to offer an educational experience at the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival – and give away 1500 bags of Thornloe Cheese Curds!
The Elgin Federation of Agriculture’s Ag Roundtable Commodity Breakfast was a highlight in 2019. Invited were reps from all of the local commodity groups, local politicians of all levels and EFA board members to talk about current local issues impacting agriculture. “The discussion was a great learning opportunity for everyone in attendance,” says EFA president Melissa Schneider. The format of the meeting? Each commodity rep received 4 minutes to talk about their most pressing issues, and then the MP, MPP, and Warden each were given a chance to respond.
CASA Grain Rescue Training. The Essex County Federation, in conjunction with the County of Essex, Emergency Management Department and Agris Co-op hosted a first responders two-day training event at the Stoney Point Co-op. The goal was to train first responders, staff, and fellow farmers in grain rescue. From the 14 people that attended, all said they learned something and would highly recommend it to others and if given the opportunity would attend again. With donations from Corteva (Pioneer), ADM, Farm Credit Canada, Co- Operators Insurance (Robert Buys), Kent Essex Mutual/HUB Insurance and Scotia Bank, the cost to bring the CASA unit to Essex was covered.
Frontenac Federation of Agriculture – Open Farms in Frontenac. This is the third year Frontenac county has organized an open farms event for consumers to view current farming operations. The Theme is “Real food. Real farms.
Real People”. This event sees well over 1000 people touring 10 farms throughout the day. This event was an opportunity for lots of family fun, food trucks, garden and green house tours, animal interaction and education and hands on activities. An opportunity to see real working farms – be prepared to get a little mud on your boots.
A few years ago, Grenville Federation had an idea to help out the various food banks in Grenville county. Starting out with 9 acres of land donated by the local township, farmers donated their time and resources to plant soybeans which they sold for a tidy profit which was donated to one food bank. Now they have over hundred acres of land (donated) which they plant either corn or soybeans and when harvested donate money to several food banks in the Grenville county area. Most of the time and resources (seed, fertilizer, spray) are either donated or provided at a reduced price. Thousands of much needed dollars have been raised over the years for the food banks.
GCFA – Public Speaking
GCFA invites all local schools to participate in their public speaking competition. Once the schools choose their winners, they go on to participate in the GCFA competition. GCFA hosts 2 semifinals, one for schools in the north and one for schools in the south end of the county. The winners of those events go onto the finals which are located centrally in the county. GCFA has a separate category for Ag related speeches which is named the Don Hill Memorial award, named after a director who was very committed to Ag education.
AgStravaganza runs annually in the week prior to Caledonia Fair by a group of volunteers with the support of various county associations and companies involved in the Ag business sector. The event’s goal is to educate and expose grade 5 students to different aspects of agriculture. In support of the event, HFA created the AgStravaganza Collage Contest. Each class that attended puts together a collage of information (pictures, drawings, text, etc.) that best communicated what they had learned about agriculture at the event. The submissions are judged by a committee from HFA. The winning entries receive a classroom visit by some real life farmers to learn more.
Huron County Federation of Agriculture – Introduction Delegation to Municipal reps. HCFA chose to introduce themselves and OFA to their new and returning Municipal Representatives through an introductory delegation. This delegation highlighted what HCFA and OFA do as individual entities, and where the organizations work collaboratively.
HCFA used this opportunity to share OFA’s “Ag Matters” Guide and Producing Prosperity plan. The presentation was used to promote communication between the Municipalities and HCFA for topics impacting agriculture and gained insightful questions.
Professional Development Day – KFA, along with Chatham- Kent Economic Development and OFA, invited Scotiabank Managers on a tour to various farms and agricultural businesses in Kent County. Stops included a local seed corn company harvesting corn, a brussels sprout operation, a carrot and onion packaging facility, a medical marijuana operation along with a water pumping station (below lake level drainage scheme). The Scotiabank Managers were very impressed with the size of operations within Chatham-Kent and how many people they employed. KFA directors were asked if they could organize another bus tour for other managers in the future.
The Lambton Federation of Agriculture recognizes that mental health is an issue for many and can be a difficult topic to approach. On February 27, with Lambton Farm Safety, the LFA co-sponsored a seminar called Opening the Conversational Doors to Mental Health. The event was facilitated by Lauren Van Eywk of Wellspring Counselling, guest speaker Christy Heimstra of Clovermead Adventure Farm and Danielle Stewart with Workplace Mental Health. A link to the view that Lambton Federation arranged to have taken during this seminar can be found at lambtonfedertation.ca/mental-health-matters.
Lanark Federation invites local municipal councillors and staff on a tour each year that highlights several local producers and ag related businesses. It gives an opportunity for participants to understand agriculture in the county and some of the issues and challenges that farmers and farm businesses are facing. Participant numbers on the tour have grown each year and it also receives excellent local press coverage.
2019 was the first year for Leeds Federation to host the AgriCulture event in Leeds County. Leeds Federation was the major driver in getting it up and running. It was a great experience to showcase the various commodities in the county. 4H members had some of their animals on display, various commodity booths were on hand showcasing their products, and 12 market gardeners had booths at this event. Burnbrae Farms had some laying hens on display which was a big hit for the kids. The Bouncy Castle and smoothie bike (which features a blender that the youngster can pedal vigorously to get a smoothie) were also part of this very popular event which is already underway for a repeat in 2020.
The MFA hosted their 3rd Annual Agriculture Night at Western Fair Raceway on March 29. The event brings together commodity organizations, members and the ag community for a fun night out to watch the horse races and celebrate agriculture. The MFA engaged the general public by placing The Real Dirt on Farming, Local Food Map and draw tickets on the tables in the Raceway. The MFA bought prizes from Agri- businesses in Middlesex County to encourage the public to visit the display area for the chance to win the door prize and have a discussion with farmers.
The Muskoka Federation of Agriculture and the Muskoka Soil and Crop Improvement Organization organized an agricultural event for local and visiting families in early August, featuring farm-themed games, a simulated milk cow and a horse drawn hayride. The event was well attended and re-enforced the message that Muskoka has an active farming community. The 2019 event was the fifth iteration of this initiative.
The Niagara South Federation approached all municipalities in Niagara and asked them to implement the Emily Project, with Pelham and Wainfleet being the only two to take it on. The delegation was met with overwhelming support at Pelham council. Pelham charges $100/sign while Wainfleet is charging $140. The October 17 issue of the local paper Niagara This Week called the 911 signs “Worth Every Penny.” The photo at left ran alongside the article with this caption: “Joyce Sonneveld is the first farmer in Pelham to have a Project Emily sign installed in Pelham.” Also in the picture are OFA MSR Nadine Gill-Aarts and Murray Berin, director of the NSFA.
Ottawa Federation encourages Ag Education in the Ottawa area in a variety of ways. One of the unique options they have supported has been the organization, sponsorship and promotion of an incubator program in area schools. Several incubators are placed in local schools to give primary aged children an opportunity to learn about chickens, hatching and egg production.
The OCFA took advantage of funding through the Involve program to help plan and organize a bus tour for municipal politicians from across the county. The three stops of the tour included a brand new dairy barn facility, Oxford Agropro and Parion Animal Nutrition, a local feed and retail store servicing the Hickson area. It was a great opportunity for the municipal councilors to see how interconnected the farming industry in their area is and learn about ways municipal policies impact Ag businesses. Issues like natural gas access, half load season and the need for more industrial land in the village of Hickson to bring in additional Ag businesses were discussed.
Ag 2.0 Bus Tour -The PCFA co-hosted a bus tour of Perth County Farms with MPP Randy Pettapiece this summer. The 4 stops highlighted innovation and the business challenges faced on the farm. The first stop was Stonetown Cheese- The Weber Family Dairy showing on farm value added products.
The Chaffe Family Beef Farm dealt with the importance of reliable internet for purchasing, selling, and nutrition.
Beaumont Farms featured a locally produced BBQ Lunch with field equipment examples of the technology being used for growing grains. The Follings Family Sheep Farm demonstrated changes in livestock housing and requirements for building.
Renfrew Federation initiated a Harvest Gala for producers and ag businesses. This event is held in the fall to celebrate agriculture in Renfrew County, it also serves as a fundraiser for a chosen local charity (4-H and Hospice Renfrew have received funds in the past). At the inaugural event, Renfrew Federation also supported the creation of a short movie that highlighted agriculture in Renfrew County, both past and present. This movie is in local libraries and is also available to schools and community groups.
Russell Federation invited local and neighboring MPPs and their assistants to go and visit a local expanding dairy farm. They had lunch at one of our biggest cheese producers, St.- Albert Cheese Factory, as well as a guided tour of the cheese making process. The event was a good success. They discussed the key issues like the cost of electricity, natural gas availability, infrastructure, etc. They used the Involve Fund money for the event and the federation is discussing having another event similar to this one in the future.
Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture Farms Feed Families Program. 808 grade 3 students and 33 teachers from Simcoe County each come for a half day to hear presentation from Dairy, Beef, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Chickens, Crops, Potatoes and Equipment commodities. After visiting each commodity station, students and teachers gathered to watch a cow being milked and a sheep shearing demonstration. Each student received a goody bag with information from commodities and a seed kit to plant their own seeds. The whole program is made possible by the 50 volunteers (incl. SCFA committee of ten) who give of their time along with the 21 sponsors and the 9 commodity representatives.
Stormont Federation of Agriculture invited councilors from our North and South Stormont Councils to a breakfast which lasted about 2 hours. There was some very good dialogue. It is an excellent opportunity to enlighten the non-agricultural councilors. A repeat event is hoped to continue the conversation between the local Federation of Agriculture and our local Municipal Representatives.
The Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture has four billboards that highlight farm areas and the need for caution on the road. These billboards are rented annually and the costs are covered by the TFA, other local commodity groups and local industry sponsors in a collaborative effort to improve visibility for slow moving vehicles. They are located on either direction of both major highways that intersect the Earlton area, ensuring that any vehicle passing through the area sees the signs.
Broadcast the farm message far and wide with radio. WFA director, Jeff Stager discovered community radio through his non-farm interests. With the support of WFA Jeff launched The Agriculture Show. Today with over 250 episodes under his belt, Jeff’s weekly broadcast covers the entire Region of Waterloo listening area and far beyond through Facebook and podcasts > https://radiowaterloo.ca/category/shows/the- agriculture-show/ . There is even a 4H club now for broadcasting. Community radio is always looking for content so filling the airwaves with agriculture may be cheaper than you think.
In Wellington County for nearly 25 years Pizza Perfect brings Grade 3-4 students from several school boards for a day at the Grand Valley Raceway barn. The students get to see how the ingredients of their pizza are grown and processed. 20+ stations set up in the horse stalls let students hear directly from farmers how crops are grown and livestock raised. WFA staffs the Grain Grinding station every year. Many hands make light work and volunteers who represent Wellington’s farm and rural community ensure that the event is fully booked with nearly 1,000 students attending every year.
WEST NIPISSING SUDBURY EAST
The West Nipissing-Sudbury East Federation of Agriculture purchased a TUFF portable cattel squeeze for use by local farmers, in a collaboration with Springer Animal Hospital and Creative Meats. This squeeze will facilitate tagging of livestock on-farm, will enable a veterinarian to administer medication or treatment and could also be used for emergencies such as livestock truck rollovers or wildfires. This legacy investment was made possible through SNAPP funding and is now available for rent.
The FarmSafety First For Kids Workshop is held in the spring every other year at one of our local fairs or farm equipment dealerships. Kids age 6 to 18 grouped by age spend the morning rotating through 7 different farm safety related stations followed by a pizza lunch. Stations include farm equipment, livestock, small engine, electricity, fire, first aid, and war amps.