As you approach the end of your three-year term as chair, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
When I look back on the work of the last three years, it is remarkable to me to see how far we’ve come. Yes, I know there are miles to go yet, but to have met with the premier of Ontario and his cabinet members, the minister of agriculture, senators, the agriculture critics and MPs from every corner of the country and every party is incredible. Being a positive advocate for agriculture while also being able to answer questions and help educate or support our government advocates was a vital part of the role.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are very important to me, so partnering with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to provide EDI training that helped create a more inclusive environment for people across Ontario agriculture was a definite highlight. I think, at the end of the day, I am most proud of the collective work I was able to do over the three years. I want to say that I was able to be an effective chair because of the support of an amazing, dedicated and engaged Board and the incredibly hard work of the Grain Farmers of Ontario team. No chair knows all the issues they will face ahead of time, and regardless of which issue was at the forefront at the time, I know we represented our farmers well. Being chair of this organization was a privilege. I thank everyone for their support and confidence in me. •
2024 MARCH CLASSIC
Tuesday, March 19 2024
RBC Place London, Ontario
Advancing our strong roots: The future is built on the foundation we give it, and Ontario grain farming has deep, strong roots that feed this country’s people and support the success of the agriculture industry. Farmers constantly show their resiliency, their flexibility, and their innovation. In times of challenge, they persevere. They learn from the past, and they invest in the future. The farmers of tomorrow, the one percent who feed the world, will continue to build on these strong roots and show their strength and resilience every season. Grain Farmers of Ontario is a leader because of its strong roots in a strong board, strong team, and the spirit to push through in challenging times and put in the hard work for success.
Speakers include Shawn Hackett, Weather trends/outlook and commodities expert; Amanda Lang, Canadian business journalist with BNN Bloomberg; Marshall Sewell, mental health advocate and founder of Mind Your Melon.
Find out more at www.gfo.ca/marchclassic. •
TALK TODAY PROGRAM
Grain Farmers of Ontario has joined with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Syngenta Canada again this year to sponsor the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division’s Talk Today program. Talk Today provides mental health support to players and raises awareness about mental health and suicide throughout the League’s communities.
Mental wellness is a priority area of focus for Grain Farmers of Ontario to help Ontario grain farmers struggling with mental health issues and remove any stigma still associated with talking about mental health or seeking help.
The Talk Today program from the OHL and CMHA helps start much-needed conversations and educate people about mental health issues. February is Talk Today month in the OHL, with game day presentations, educational activities, and social media campaigns held League-wide aimed at reducing the stigma associated with mental health and addiction.
Find out more: ontario.cmha.ca/talk-today-resources/ •
WINTER FARM SHOWS
Grain Farmers of Ontario will be exhibiting at the following farm shows:
- East Central Farm Show in Lindsay March 6-7
- London Farm Show March 6-8
- Ottawa Valley Farm Show March 12-14
Farmer-members are encouraged to stop by our booth to meet with staff and discuss any issues of concern ahead of the 2024 planting season. •
CEREALS CANADA NEW CROP MISSION
In early December, Josh Boersen, director of District 9 (Perth) and Dana Dickerson, manager of market development and sustainability, participated in the Cereals Canada New Crop Mission to Latin America.
They travelled to Bogotá, Colombia and Mexico City, Mexico and shared the 2023 Ontario wheat production and quality results with over 75 customer contacts through seminars, meetings, and company visits. South and Central America continue to be an important and growing market for Ontario wheat, with more than 60 per cent of wheat vessel exports destined for the region. During the meetings, the team received feedback on customer specifications for logistics, wheat quality and milling, and baking performance that Grain Farmers of Ontario will use to inform future market analysis and trade promotion. •
BEST OF CAMA
Grain Farmers of Ontario was honoured to receive two Canadian Agri Marketers Alliance (CAMA) Best of CAMA Certificates of Merit at the annual Best of CAMA awards ceremony held November 2, 2023, at the Fairmont Winnipeg.
The Grain Farmers of Ontario Grains on the Go trailer was honoured in the Best Exhibit category, and the Ontario Grain Farmer article, Rural Pride, written by Rose Danen, was honoured in the Best News or Feature Article category. •
WOMEN’S GRAIN SYMPOSIUM
More than 80 women from across the grain sector gathered at the Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre on November 27-28, 2023, to participate in the annual Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Women’s Grain Symposium.
An agenda that explored topics like building a personal strategic plan, grain marketing, domestic violence in rural Ontario, farm transition strategies, and networking opportunities allowed participants to learn new skills and grow as leaders in the Ontario grain and oilseed industry.
Grain Farmers of Ontario extends our thanks to industry sponsors, including SeCan, Diageo, Corteva Agriscience, Farm Credit Canada, The Andersons, Horizon Seeds Canada, Syngenta, BASF, Greenfield Global, Bayer Crop Science, IGPC Ethanol, and P&H Milling, for their support of the event.
The Women’s Grain Symposium is held annually to offer women farmer-members and grain industry representatives the opportunity to network, collaborate, learn from one another, and encourage more women to get involved in leadership roles within Grain Farmers of Ontario. Thank you to Grain Farmers of Ontario directors Julie Maw, District 3 (Lambton) and Angela Zilke, District 7 (Oxford, Waterloo) and delegates Ann Vermeersch, District 5 (Elgin, Norfolk), Julia Kimber, District 7 (Oxford, Waterloo), and Lauren Benoit, District 8 (Huron), for participating on a panel discussion about their leadership in their respective districts. •
In December 2023, Grain Farmers of Ontario said goodbye to Tom Farfaras, the organization’s chief financial officer. Prior to the creation of Grain Farmers of Ontario, Farfaras served as business manager of the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board. Farfaras was instrumental in the financial merger of the three legacy organizations and managing the wind down of the Ontario Wheat Marketing Program in 2021, which led to the creation of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Legacy Fund. We wish Tom all the best in his future endeavours. •
Do you have questions about DON testing? Grain Farmers of Ontario’s webinar, How to improve consistency of DON testing results, is available to view at www.gfo.ca/GrainTALK. •
By Philip Shaw
Grain markets have swooned into the new year as we are still waiting for our post-harvest rally. The nearby March 2024 corn and soybean contract has been ratcheting lower over the last three months. It reflects the big supply we are seeing based on last year’s U.S. harvest of 15.234 billion bushels of corn and 4.13 billion bushels of soybeans. “Final” numbers were released on January 12, and markets will surely be trading those and South American weather into the end of January.
In Ontario, a mild winter into January helped finish the corn harvest in parts of eastern Ontario. It was a very good harvest in Ontario, and basis levels reflect the large supplies available.
The Canadian dollar continues to flutter near the 75-cent U.S. level, adding stimulus to Ontario grain prices. •