Area’s incumbent OFA director, Eleanor Renaud, awaits results as farmers vote

Seen in above photo: Current OFA Director of Zone 11, Eleanor Renaud, campaigning to hold onto her position. Courtesy photo

Member poll closes today

Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News

LEEDS COUNTY — Time is almost up for member farmers to vote for their local Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) director in Zone 11, where incumbent Eleanor Renaud of Leeds County hopes to hold off challenger Jackie Kelly-Pemberton of Dundas.

As of 4:30 p.m. today phone calls, mail, and online will no longer be accepted, soon to settle the race in the zone covering Dundas, Frontenac, Grenville & Leeds.

Renaud has held the directorship of the region since it was constituted as a zone nine years ago. She explains that the job is never done and that she thoroughly enjoys it.

Although the current zone director would like to hold onto her position, she thinks highly her opponent, the former Dundas Federation of Agriculture president. “Jackie’s doing a great job,” she says.

As far as who she thinks will win the election, she replied, “It’ll be what it’ll be. Do they want someone new or someone with experience?”

According the Renaud, the big issues that the director will need to deal with immediately are “carbon taxes, minimum wage, and corporate tax changes.” On that last subject, she offers that Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau “doesn’t quite understand and thinks it’s not going to affect the middle class.”

Farming over 1,000 acres, she says she knows first-hand the struggles of farmers in the area, also noting  it’s not just farmers affected by the corporate tax change but small businesses as well. They’re hurting the “mom and pop too. It’s going to hurt them all.”

She also alluded to the excessive rainfall this area has received this spring and summer. “Will there be disaster relief funds for farmers this fall? Crop Insurance? We need to fight for that! It’s here! It’s a lot of Eastern Ontario. As an OFA director you need to speak up for what’s going on in your area.”

As an example of previous OFA lobbying success, she pointed to a past disparity in rural hydro costs versus the price paid in urban areas. “It takes years; it’s not a quick process. We finally got them to reduce the rural Hydro rates, but it has taken a long time!”

“So much has changed, yet so much has stayed the same,” she continued.

She has fought contested elections before, explaining she “usually has to run” for the director’s position and expects it. “It’s a healthy way to get members involved. Members should care about what is going on.”

Renaud conceded to being both nervous and excited to find out the results.

This weekend she says she has lots to do “to keep my mind distracted.” She has a booth at the Stratford Garlic Festival and will be working at the Outdoor Farmshow.

Renaud imagines that the final count probably won’t be made public until the end of next week. Her fingers are crossed until then.

Above, the candidate’s promotional video from the OFA website.

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