Hugh Simpson wants to use his experience to educate the general public
By Diego Flammini
An Ontario beekeeper is preparing to enter a new role within the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Hugh Simpson, who serves as the president of the Grey County Federation of Agriculture, became the OFA’s newest director-at-large during the organization’s annual general meeting in Hamilton, Ont. His term will last three years.
Farms.com connected with Simpson to get a sense of his priorities as he settles into his new position.
Listening to several opinions about the ag industry is at top of mind, he said.
“My background in business and farm advocacy teaches me that the best thing you can do at first is hear from as many diverse stakeholders as possible,” he told Farms.com. “I hope to remain patient, listen to conversations and formulate the best way for me to help advance farming.”
Simpson is also committed to educating the non-farm community about the industry.
Consumers are a part of the ag industry, so demonstrating that fact to them is important, he said.
“I want to move the conversation to a place where the general public can better identify with the farm brand,” he said. “People attach themselves to particular kinds of products. I think I can bring some new ideas to the table about how modern farming can (present) itself so that the general public can understand and appreciate. Maybe, (they’ll) even get to a point where they defend Ontario’s farm brand.”
Simpson is dedicated to attracting new farmers to the industry.
The average age of a farmer in Ontario is 55, the 2016 Census of Agriculture says.
Ensuring a pipeline of young producers exists who are waiting to grow food will help keep the industry strong, Simpson said.
“Older farmers have definitely embraced the use of technology, but young farmers are the future of this industry,” he said. “In 20 years, the face of farming is going to look different. Farmers like me who are over 55 come from a time where most of our news came from a newspaper or the TV, we had no concept of what social media was.
“I’d like to find a way to embrace those farmers who will be making the decisions in the next 15 to 20 years. To do that, we need to appreciate the younger farmer as a significant audience and as consumers of this lifestyle and business culture.”
At the OFA’s annual general meeting, Keith Currie was acclaimed as organization president. Mark Reusser and Peggy Brekveld won re-elections as OFA vice-presidents.
Hugh Simpson photo