By Crispin Colvin
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Gathering grassroots input is a key activity that strengthens the work of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). Representing farm business members means we must be engaging with members on a regular basis so we can confidently speak as the voice of Ontario agriculture.
OFA solicits member input frequently to better understand what’s on the minds of Ontario farmers, what is challenging their businesses and their communities. We do this by communicating through county and regional federations, with our on-the-ground Member Service Representatives, our Policy Advisory Council (PAC) and board of directors.
OFA has been working closely with the PAC to progress meaningful participation and discussion on issues impacting members and Ontario’s agri-food sector. It’s important this knowledge and advice be collected and passed on to OFA’s board of directors. This grassroots input is critical advice to the board as OFA develops and secures policies and programs that work for and benefit members.
This month we wanted to take the PAC consultation process a bit further by engaging OFA members. We are dealing with some important issues at the upcoming PAC meeting and the PAC members can benefit from some broader input. So, we are surveying all members this week on what they consider important when it comes to the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, federal taxation policies, the expansion of the Greenbelt, and the possible build of a high-speed rail line. This input will be incorporated into the deliberation at the PAC meeting next week and serve to help guide future decision making for our organization.
The active participation of members in policy advice and development is logistically difficult to obtain. The election and active involvement of member peers in the PAC process helps provide grassroots input. Through periodic surveys we can expand member perspectives to ensure our advocacy work is based on as much member input as possible. OFA’s strength is found in the number of voices all speaking the same message. And these messages are developed by listening to our members.
OFA members are encouraged to participate in the confidential, online survey by January 28.