What makes Ontario’s agri-food industry strong is the abundance of strong, confident and spirited farmers we have leading our organizations and businesses, striving towards building a bright future for the next generation. As an organization governed by grassroots, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) values the power of leadership. We understand the importance of utilizing the voice of our membership. The OFA aims to develop leaders within our 51 county and regional federations, encouraging a new wave to pursue a role at the provincial level.
The OFA is committed to driving further success in our industry and rural communities by providing our grassroots with the opportunity to use their voice and evoke positive change for our sector. Each year, the OFA works to identify and recruit new leaders during the nomination period for the open Zone Director positions across the province. With a rolling governance structure for director elections, five zones are up for election annually during the month of June. The position is for a three-year term on the Board of Directors, representing members in a designated zone.
This year, nominations are open in Zones 4 (Elgin-Oxford), 7 (Huron-Perth), 9 (Dufferin-Waterloo-Wellington), 13 (Peel-Simcoe-York) and 14 (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell-Stormont). Nominations, which opened on June 1, will be accepted until June 25. All nominees must be active OFA members who reside in the zone.
Through ongoing advocacy work with government policymakers and industry partners, our Board of Directors are committed to enhancing the agri-food industry, rural and northern communities, and the business of farming for all farmers in Ontario. Although it may seem intimidating, sitting on thew OFA’s Board as a Zone Director can be a very fulfilling experience for those interested in taking an active role in advocacy and using their voice to influence policy and legislation that will benefit the entire agriculture industry.
The OFA’s board is comprised of 18 dedicated, passionate and hardworking leaders elected by our membership to represent the diverse interests of our 38,000 farm business members. Each director brings their own unique voice and farm background to the table, offering a distinct perspective on issues impacting their local communities. When I joined the board in 2019, I was pleasantly surprised by the open-minded and progressive individuals sitting around me at the table. Our sector is extremely diverse and there is a benefit to being able to look at issues from all viewpoints.
The responsibility of a provincial director is to attend 11 board meetings throughout the year, including a board tour in the summer (COVID-19 notwithstanding) and the Annual General Meeting in November. It offers the opportunity to engage federal, provincial and municipal policymakers and staff by participating in meetings, roundtable discussions and lobby day events on issues facing the agri-food sector and rural communities. Directors are given the chance to connect with grassroots members and industry stakeholders on key priorities and opportunities to grow our dynamic sector. This active role allows for collaboration with enthusiastic and passionate board members and staff to ensure the farming and food sector continues to thrive across the province.
What initially attracted me to the role of Zone Director was my desire to learn and give back to my community. Through my leadership role in the OFA, I was given the opportunity to serve agriculture in a different way by giving it a voice and striving to improve the sector for the next generation.
Joining the OFA as a Director is not only an exciting opportunity to work alongside knowledgeable, experienced, and motivated members of the board and staff, but it’s also the chance to represent your local farming community and positively impact the livelihoods of 49,600 Ontario farms. It’s a commitment that has the potential to benefit you and the agri-food industry.
We all have a duty to make things better and try to improve the industry that gives us our livelihood and provides the province with food, fibre and fuel. If someone in your community embodies what it means to be a strong leader and has the desire to make a difference for the industry and their community, take the first step in filling out a Zone Director nomination form.
For more information about the nomination and election process, please visit www.ofa.on.ca.
Paul Vickers is a director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.