Ontario Federation of Agriculture Embraces Young, Beginner Farmers
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Ontario’s largest farm lobby organization hopes to get more young and beginner farmers involved in its organization.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, or OFA, which represents more than 37,000 farm families in the province, plans to continue hosting events geared towards young and beginner farmers between the ages of 20 and 40.
“We need more young voices around the table to create activities and policies relevant to all generations,” said Janine Lunn, OFA’s member services representative for Elgin and Oxford. “We are targeting young farmers to connect with them,” she said.
In the past, OFA has worked in partnership with the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario to host the Ontario Young Farmers Forum, which is held in conjunction every year with OFA’s annual convention. Most recently, OFA had great success hosting a tailgate social at the Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock, Ont.
“Last fall we held a very successful tailgate social at the Outdoor Farm Show, and that model is being explored in other parts of the province, including at the Western Fair Farm Show in London this year,” explains Lunn.
To mix things up a little, OFA is hosting its first Young Farmers Summit and private tour of John Deere Canada’s national head office and distribution depot in Grimsby, Ont. The one-day summit is scheduled for Wednesday, January 29, 2013.
The idea to offer a young farmer summit emerged from ongoing discussions with OFA staff and members. Lunn says OFA already has good representation on its county federation boards from established farmers, but would like to see more young people getting involved. She says the farm group wants young farmers to know that they have a voice within OFA.
Lunn says about 60 people have registered to attend the summit. The largest numbers of registrants are from the Niagara region, which live close to the John Deere facility. There are also young farmers coming from Hastings, Bruce, Grey and Chatham-Kent counties.
Promotional material for the event highlighted three words – technology, connections and motivation. All three of these topics will be touched on at the summit.
Lunn says the John Deere office and warehouse complex is an ideal location because it’s where leading edge technology and farm equipment meet. “We know that farmers are keen to stay on the edge of trends like precision agriculture and gaining efficiency, so it is a great fit,” she said.
In addition to the exclusive tour of John Deere’s headquarters, participants will hear a presentation from Canadian Paralympian and six-time world champion Jeff Adam. The event will also provide ample opportunity for young farmers to network and meet OFA staff.
Sponsors of the event include Scotia Bank, Farm Credit Canada and a number of local federations who’ve contributed financially towards the summit.
Summit participants are encouraged to use the Twitter hashtag #jdevent, and others are welcome to follow live tweeting throughout the event on Wednesday.