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Changes and challenges at OFA AGM

Changes and challenges at OFA AGM

Delegates elected a new president and discussed both new and ongoing issues in ag

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) hosted it’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday, with over 270 delegates tuning in virtually to discuss the accomplishments and hardships of the last year, decide on changes, and chart a path forward.

“There was definitely engagement from the members, and I appreciate all the conversations had,” Peggy Brekveld, newly elected president of the OFA, told “We had excellent representation” from 50 county federations and 18 commodity groups.

The delegation voted to change a bylaw that establishes how certain positions are elected. Brekveld was elected through this updated protocol. 

“The bylaw helps us come into compliance with the corporations act. Before the delegation would vote for the president and vice president at our AGM. And we’ve moved from that to a process that’s very common in the industry,” she explained. “The presidents, vice presidents and executive members are now voted by the board itself.”

When discussing concerns for the agricultural community “I heard loud and clear that the Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) are high on people’s minds (as well as) technicalities regarding transportation rules,” Brekveld said.  

MZOs are orders that allow for changes in land-use without going through the established municipal planning process. The OFA expressed their concern about the increased number of MZOs issued in municipalities where robust planning systems exist in a letter to Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, on Aug. 10.

Another issue discussed at the AGM was “continued interest in more investment in broadband and infrastructure in rural Ontario,” Brekveld said. The nature of the virtual meeting underscored the way that poor rural internet services act as a barrier for certain farmers who want to participate in industry events or access online services.

The last year has been a challenging one, and the ag community is no exception.

“COVID has really taken it’s toll on the industry morale,” Brekveld said. However, there is cause for hope.

“The numbers actually show that Canadians are interested in buying Ontario food. I think that there is renewed interest in local food, and I think that we continue to see an industry that’s actually a key economic driver in this province,” she added.

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