OFA’s 2019 Annual General Meeting provided members with a full slate of activities and business over the two-day event. This year’s theme, Farming 2020: Adapt & Grow, led the way for discussions, speakers, presentations and workshop topics. The theme focus on the flexibility and adaptability agriculture embraces every day as the economic powerhouse for the province.
The annual meeting officially got underway on Sunday night with an opening reception and exhibitor showcase as an opportunity for attendees to catch up, speak with exhibitors and engage with OFA election candidates. The business portion of the meeting was held Monday, November 18 and Tuesday, November 19 at the Hamilton Convention Centre.
Delegates engaged in grassroots policy and politic discussions, progressive workshop sessions, award presentations, voted on OFA leadership position and heard from guest speakers. The Hon. Rob Black, Senator provided opening remarks at this year’s event, while David Phillips, senior climatologist, Environment and Climate Change Canada was featured as the keynote speaker. David Phillips spoke on the impact weather patterns and the environment has on Canada’s agricultural industry and the need for mitigation and adaptation. He stressed how we need to go with the times and do things differently than what our grandparents did. The weather will continue to be more extreme and more variable as time goes on. Additional guest speakers throughout the event included John Stackhouse, senior vice-president at RBC Royal Bank, Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Hon. Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Horwath, Leader, Official Opposition and John Vanthof, Deputy Leader, Official Opposition and Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Keith Currie was re-elected by the delegates to serve as the leader of the organization for a fourth one-year term. Currie, OFA’s 31st president, is a Collingwood-area hay and sweet corn farmer.
Peggy Brekveld and Mark Reusser were re-elected as OFA’s two vice presidents. Brekveld, a northern Ontario dairy farmer, returns for her sixth one-year term, while Reusser, a Waterloo County turkey farmer, will be serving in the role for a fourth term. Drew Spoelstra was re-elected by the board as the fourth executive member.
Delegates elected Teresa Van Raay (Dashwood, ON) as Director at Large for a three-year term on the OFA Board of Directors. Paul Vickers (Griersville, ON), representing Zone 2 – Grey and Bruce counties will also be joining the OFA board. Two long-time directors, including a past president, have retired from OFA’s board this year in Pat Jilesen and Don McCabe.
OFA recognized two retiring staff members who served as Member Service Representatives (MSR) for the organization. Henry Swierenga represented members in Niagara, Halton and Hamilton-Hamilton for almost 30 years, while Neil Tarlton was one of OFA’s northern Ontario representatives working on behalf of members for 23 years.
OFA announced the winners of the 2019 student bursary award – Robert Matson of Caledon, Nolan McLarty of West Lorne and Natalie Templeton of Kemptville. Each recipient was awarded $2,000 towards their continuing agricultural education. Also announced at the annual meeting were the winners of OFA’s Honda Member Draw, awarding three lucky members with a Honda ATV (first prize) and power equipment (second and third prizes) – Cathy Wilson from Peel Region, Rita Vander Kant of Middlesex County and Daryl Rush from Durham Region.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2019 Annual General Meeting. Thanks to all of our members, guests, sponsors, exhibitors and speakers for making it another successful annual meeting. We look forward to a new year of growth and opportunity for Ontario’s agri-food sector.
For more details, click here for the news release.