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By Paul Maurice, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

January marks the renewal season of membership in the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and there are a number of ways that farmers, farm businesses and agricultural organizations can hold a membership in the OFA.

Most well-known is the Farm Business Registration membership. In Ontario, farms that have earned a gross income of at least $7,000 in the past year are required to register their business through Agricorp in order to qualify for certain programs and benefits.

Registered farm businesses are eligible for the farm property class tax rate for farmland and farm vehicle license plates, as well as being able to apply for special government programs for agriculture.

These include, for example, the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program for losses to crops or livestock caused by wildlife, and government cost-share programs for initiatives boosting soil health and water quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions or protecting species at risk.

Similar to how the federal government relies on data gathered through the Canadian Census to help with decision-making, the provincial government uses statistics and information generated through FBR to support agricultural program and policy development.

With registration, farmers select a membership in one of Ontario’s three accredited farm organizations – and every year, they decide which organization they wish to belong to and support with their membership fee.

Other forms of membership in the OFA include Individual Farm Membership, which represents individuals who are or have been directly involved in farming but who do not otherwise quality for Farm Business Registration.

OFA is also pleased to include 29 agricultural and commodity organizations among our valued members. OFA is a strong believer in the power of partnerships and working together to achieve common goals.

I’m a director on OFA’s provincial board, where I have represented farmers in Peel, Simcoe and York since 2021. My wife and I were dairy farmers in the small bilingual community of Lafontaine just west of Penetanguishene for 50 years, and today, we raise broiler chickens and grow crops together with our son, Alex, who is the fifth generation of our family on our farm.

I’ve been a member of the OFA for decades, and I believe strongly in the value of farmers having a strong organization who can represent our sector and our issues with a united voice.

Our advocacy work yields important outcomes for farm businesses and rural communities on topics as wide-ranging as taxation, farmland preservation, farmer wellness, rural infrastructure and supply chain resilience, to name just a few.

As a provincial organization, our advocacy focuses primarily on the provincial government, but we are also active federally as members of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. As well, we dedicate resources to working with municipalities as a significant amount of legislation affecting farmers actually stems from local government.

That’s why, for example, we make sure we participate in key events like the annual conferences of Economic Developers Council of Ontario, the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, the Ontario Good Roads Association, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and others.

To put it simply, to me advocacy means being able to help people who affect our lives and our farming businesses understand who we are and what we do – and what impact their decisions have on those of us who produce food, fuel, fibre and flowers.

This means working closely with our membership and local Federations and collaboratively with government, other farm organizations and industry partners to find and put the proper tools in place so that as farmers, we can keep our businesses profitable and efficient.

And I like to think that OFA, who represents approximately 88% of Ontario’s farmers, is best positioned to be that leading, trusted voice for our sector.

We appreciate the support of our members and their trust in us to represent their interests and turn their concerns into action that helps ensure Farms and Food Forever.

For more information, contact:

Rachelle Kerr
Communications Coordinator
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wellington Federation of Agriculture

Harriston ON N0G 1Z0 519-323-7294
Thank you to OFA's Proud to Lead and Farm Credit Canada for their financial support towards our website design.