By Clint Cameron, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
I’ve been involved in the agriculture community in various ways throughout my entire life, and this past fall, I stepped into a new role as a director on the provincial board of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
It’s an exciting challenge and I’m keen to put my skills and experiences to work for Ontario’s farming sector. My background is a little different than that of most of my fellow board members, but that’s precisely where I believe I can help make a difference and bring some new perspectives to the OFA’s advocacy efforts and collaborative partnership building.
Let me tell you how I got there.
I was raised on a farm near Cardinal, a small Eastern Ontario community on the shores of the St Lawrence between Brockville and Cornwall. I grew up haying and working as a relief milker on the many dairy farms in our area, as well as riding, showing and judging Quarter Horses on the U.S and Eastern Canadian show circuit until I was in my 20s.
After graduating from the University of Ottawa with a degree in criminology and administration, I worked at Newell, maker of popular brands like Rubbermaid and Coleman, for a few years before joining Ottawa-based Nortel as part of their global program management team, where I had responsibilities for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Rim. It was during this time I also completed a postgraduate program in finance at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.
My next career move brought me back to my roots with a senior position at Casco – now Ingredion – a corn, starch, sugar and animal feed processor in my hometown of Cardinal, where I was responsible for procurement, operations and inbound logistics.
In 2016, I left the corporate world and returned full-time to my family’s farming roots, which includes growing corn, soybeans and hay on about 500 acres, and supporting my mom, Bonnie Cameron, with her spotted and dappled Boer goat breeding business. I also bought a local custom agricultural services business, where we specialize in custom farm work and land clearing activities.
Around that same time, I became a local director on the board of the Grenville Federation of Agriculture. I’ve been a supporter of OFA and its work my whole life – you could say that Farms and Food Forever is engrained in my family – so it seemed like a natural thing to do to become more involved in the industry.
Last year, I was approached by my predecessor about letting my name stand for a spot on the provincial OFA board representing farmers in the counties of Dundas, Frontenac, Grenville and Leeds.
It was an opportunity for me to step out of the tractor cab and be involved in the agri-food sector in a new way.
The strength of an organization lies in the diversity of perspectives among its leadership. Our board members raise livestock, grow crops, run on-farm stores for consumers or agricultural supply businesses, are involved with municipal politics and local fall fairs, or have specialized expertise in fields like agronomy, for example.
We each also bring our personal networks to the board table, whether that’s relationships with politicians, or involvement in other organizations. Last year, for example, I also became a member of the management committee at the Port of Johnstown, one of Eastern Ontario’s premier ports for truck, sea and rail shipping and receiving of grains, salt, aggregate and cargo.
As we were all quickly reminded of last fall during the St. Lawrence Seaway strike, our agri-food sector and indeed our entire provincial economy depends heavily on well resourced and well-functioning infrastructure, which includes our ports and marine transport.
Farmers make up on a small percentage of our population, yet the work that we do is essential in keeping our society functioning smoothly, from producing food and fuel to creating jobs and maintaining the economic and social fabric of communities away from Ontario’s major urban centres.
To me, that means we also have a responsibility to preserve – and grow – agriculture to the best of our abilities. That’s the goal of the OFA, and as one of 18 voices around our board table, I am proud to represent the farmers in my area and support our collective advocacy, collaboration and partnership efforts.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883 ext. 218