Throughout the month of September, all levels of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) have been actively involved in advocating for the betterment of the agriculture industry and our rural communities. From county and regional federations to the OFA board of directors, our representatives have been engaging federal candidates across the province, ensuring the needs, priorities and opportunities for agriculture remain at the forefront of their political platforms.
As a grassroots organization, OFA believes in the importance of a unified voice. Utilizing and mobilizing our local federations has been vital to our federal advocacy efforts. One-on-one conversations mixed with regional all-candidates meetings have been a powerful tool in communicating key issues and messages, while personalizing them based on local interests and concerns.
Throughout this election, many of our federations have taken the initiative to reach out to candidates in their communities and plan opportunities for member engagement. These meetings provide the chance for farmers, agri-business owners, rural residents and community leaders to meet their candidates, speak up for agriculture, voice local issues and reiterate the needs of the region and province. I believe these meetings are a valuable way to understand each candidates’ perspective and perception of our sector and for our members to engage with future leaders.
I had the opportunity to attend the all-candidates meeting, hosted by the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, and enjoyed the experience. I found it to be an excellent opportunity to connect with the local candidates and understand each political party’s platform and their level of knowledge of agriculture and food in Ontario. These meetings have offered the chance to share our priorities, educate federal candidates, and brainstorm how to work collaboratively to ensure our sector remains strong, profitable and viable.
To further communicate our key messages, OFA’s executive board members have been targeting federal candidates in urban ridings to reiterate priorities of the industry, collaborate on economic growth opportunities and discuss the benefits investments agriculture and rural Ontario can have on the provincial economy.
OFA board members continue to meet virtually with members of all political parties bringing important messages about the need for environmental sustainability, a fair carbon pricing policy, revisions to the current business risk management programs and access to skilled labour. These priorities have been outlined and shared in a detailed package that was distributed to all levels of the organization to ensure we approach the election with a unified voice.
OFA encourages members interested in getting involved to reach out to their local federation of agriculture or Member Service Representative (MSRs) to inquire about all-candidate meetings in their riding. Share agriculture’s message on social media and engage with candidates in your area. Together, we can ensure that federal politicians understand the value and tremendous opportunities the agri-food sector and our rural communities have to offer.