By Louis Roesch, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Regional meeting season has officially kicked-off across the province with the Kent Federation of Agriculture hosting the first event last week. These locally hosted Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) meetings offer the opportunity for members in every region across Ontario to get involved and engaged in matters that directly impact farmers, their businesses and their communities.
OFA encourages all members to take advantage of the opportunity to attend the local regional meeting in their area. The primary function of these meetings is to offer an open forum to hold elections for local delegates, Policy Advisory Council (PAC) and alternates for these positions; all of which offer valuable networking, learning and leadership development opportunities. Elected delegates will represent their respective counties and regions at OFA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London on November 21-22, 2022, participating in discussions and workshops on emerging trends in agriculture and voting on resolutions to address key topics heading into 2023. PAC representatives participate in several meetings throughout the year to provide input on timely policy issues and hold voting rights at the AGM. Alternates are elected to fill the role of Delegate or PAC, should a conflict arise. After two years of living in a virtual reality, we are looking forward to once again being able to have delegates, guests and industry stakeholders join us for our in-person annual meeting.
Regional meetings provide members with a better understanding of leadership opportunities and active involvement is available for members, as well as the key topics that OFA is advocating for and how local federations can support these initiatives. Members also engage in conversations and express concerns regarding emerging issues at the regional level, allowing local federations to hear from their membership on top priority trends and potential solutions that should be prioritized to allow farm businesses to thrive. Some of the priority issues being discussed at this year’s meetings include farmland preservation, food security, mental health, labour and evolving issues around fertilizer tariffs and proposed emissions reduction targets.
What starts at the regional scope may signal a wide-reaching issue across other counties in the province. When a common issue is brought forward by several federations, it garners more urgent attention and action. With 51 county and regional federations across the province, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience providing grassroots input on key policy and issues impacting Ontario’s farming and food sector. These federations consist of strong, local leadership that work tirelessly to make a difference in their communities and positively impact the local agriculture industry.
Although meetings have been hosted virtually for the past two years, there is excitement in returning to an in-person format for most federations. Coming together and sharing the comradery that is absent in a virtual space brings back a greater sense of community at these meetings. In-person meetings welcome the normalcy of connecting directly with community members and gathering over good conversation, refreshments, and food. Some federations will continue to offer a hybrid option or completely virtual format to accommodate accessibility of these events.
These events are often an opportunity to showcase a unique location in the local farm membership, sometimes featuring farm tours, local food, and speakers to showcase emerging research and trends for our sector. Our local federations, board representatives and Member Service Representatives are eager to showcase agriculture and meet with our valued members after a long break.
This regional meeting season, I encourage all members to not only attend, but connect with your local federation. These meetings are intended to welcome open discussion and thoughts and opinions that contribute to the greater good of our rural communities. With the opportunity to gather and reconnect, you may find yourself interesting in contributing to new projects or participating in future events in the nearby community and at the provincial level.
Find the date and time of the regional meeting in your area and mark your calendars. Get involved to support your agricultural community and fellow farmers. Come one, come all. For the full schedule, visit ofa.on.ca/regional-meetings.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883 ext. 218