ONE OF THE DRIVERS behind the formation of Grain Farmers of Ontario in 2010 (when the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association, Ontario Soybean Growers, and Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board joined forces), was to better capitalize on the agriculture industry’s greatest asset: its people.
Over the past 13 years, Grain Farmers of Ontario has benefited immensely from the talent, expertise, and dedication of its Board Members, delegates, farmer-members, and staff who have made tremendous contributions to the growth and development of the organization. I am always amazed at how much Grain Farmers of Ontario has been able to accomplish — and the resulting benefit of a stronger, sustainable, and more robust grain and oilseed sector.
In June, several members of the Board and staff headed to Ottawa to host an annual reception for MPs, Senators, and Parliament Hill staff. This event is hosted in partnership with our colleagues from the Atlantic Grains Council, Les Producteurs de grains du Québec, and Spirits Canada. It is an opportunity to network with policymakers and government officials about the grain and oilseed industry in Canada and talk to them about our vision, goals, and priorities. These kinds of events — which help build goodwill and get our messages out to those who need to hear them — are only possible because of the people who make it happen. Board members leave their farms during the busiest times of the year, and staff put in many extra hours before, during, and after the event to ensure it is a success. And this is just one example of the many projects undertaken throughout the year that this dedicated group of individuals execute with skill, efficiency, and dedication on behalf of the industry.
Grain Farmers of Ontario recognizes, however, that there is more we can do to bring more diverse voices to the table. Across the value chain — from research and academia to agri-business, industry partners, and at the farm gate — there is untapped potential to encourage the participation of people from underrepresented communities, including women, people of colour, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, and from other marginalized communities. In this issue of the Ontario Grain Farmer magazine, we are highlighting many of the women in agriculture, including Grain Farmers of Ontario’s women leaders, up-and-coming graduate students and their research, and agronomists, researchers, and farmers who are all making an impact on our industry. I am proud to be part of an organization that has recognized the need to be more inclusive and is making strides to effect change.
At the end of July, we closed applications for the second year of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Legacy Scholarship. I am looking forward to learning more about the bright, inspirational, and accomplished winners of the scholarship program, which will be awarded to students in traditional agricultural programs and students studying in diverse fields such as business, engineering, and sciences.
By investing in people — from all walks of life — and building a more inclusive, welcoming, and engaged environment for them to grow, thrive, and excel, I see a bright future for the grain and oilseed sector. I can not wait to see what that future brings. •