By Angela Cammaert, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
I’ve always been a big believer in the idea that the more people work together, the more we can achieve.
As a fifth-generation farmer raised in rural Ontario, I grew up with the belief that it’s always important to give back to the community you’re involved with, whether through service clubs, volunteerism, donating your skills and abilities to worthy causes, or stepping up to participate in leadership roles.
That spirit of involvement and collaboration also drives my husband Dave and I in our farm business near the southwestern Ontario town of West Lorne, where we grow crops, raise cattle and sell beef from our farm directly to consumers.
I spent time as a municipal councillor in West Elgin before becoming involved as a director with the Elgin Federation of Agriculture, where I soon became the organization’s Vice President and Chair of Land Use planning, as well as a mentor to young female farmers.
Late last fall, I took on my newest community involvement leadership role when I was elected as a Director-at-Large for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
I was inspired to put my name forward for the position by the example of OFA’s recently retired president Peggy Brekveld, who so ably led the organization through the very tough pandemic years.
Stepping forward to lead is never easy, particularly often for women, but she was a strong yet compassionate advocate for agriculture and dedicated to the ideas of collaboration and of building bridges between rural and urban communities.
I also decided to run for an OFA director position because I feel strongly about the future of agriculture. As a farmer who sells food directly to consumers, I spend a lot of time answering the public’s questions in person and online about how food is produced and where it comes from – and I’m deeply familiar with the critical roles that farming plays in so many ways right across our society.
It’s also important that agriculture’s voice is heard on major issues like land use planning and farmland preservation, for example, so we can ensure that our ability to produce food, fuel, fibre and flowers here in Ontario isn’t lost forever.
A key part of that also lies with investment in critical infrastructure for rural Ontario. This means well-maintained roads and bridges, but it’s also about access to affordable energy like natural gas as well as social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, healthcare and community services.
Better access to high-speed internet and fewer gaps in cellular coverage are also essential. Farmers are continually encouraged to modernize their systems and adopt new technologies, but in many parts of rural Ontario, the much-needed infrastructure to support that innovation simply isn’t there or can’t support the demand. It can be hard to use precision agriculture tools when the cell coverage needed to GPS fields isn’t available, or Internet service isn’t good enough to support technology needed to remotely monitor livestock.
These are issues that the OFA has long worked on, and progress is definitely being made, but I welcome the opportunity, in my new role, to continue to advocate for positive change for farmers right across the province.
I’m also looking forward to continuing the great work that OFA has done at building partnerships with other farm organizations in support of joint advocacy.
When we bring people and organizations of different skills and backgrounds together to work towards common goals, we can make a lot of good things happen.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883 ext. 218