Ontario Grain Farmer April/May 2024

15 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER APRIL/MAY 2024 The path to leadership JEFF HARRISON ELECTED AS GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO CHAIR Mary Feldskov Industry News SINCE GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO’S INCEPTION in 2010, the organization’s new chair, Jeff Harrison, has been involved as a leader in many capacities. Over the years, his leadership path has taken him from being a delegate of a fledging organization to leading the Board of Directors of Ontario’s largest commodity organization. Harrison, who graduated in 1995 with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture degree from the University of Guelph, was involved with the Ontario Soybean Growers (OSG) as a delegate in the early days of his farming career. In fact, he says, he was a strong proponent of merging the three legacy organizations (Ontario Corn Producers’ Association (OCPA), Ontario Wheat Growers, and OSG), and he took on a delegate role in the newly formed District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings). Rising through the ranks, he chaired the District for three years before being elected director in 2016. “Joe Hickson (former District 12 director) and Dale Mountjoy (OCPA president at the time of amalgamation) were two farmers from my District who inspired me,” says Harrison. “I saw how much they sacrificed to make things better for Ontario farmers.” When Hickson signalled he was ready to step down as director, Harrison, with Hickson’s encouragement, stood for election for the position. Among his many commitments on the Board, Harrison has since sat on the Finance and Audit, Research, Communications, Grain Issues, Government Relations, Market Development and BRM/Safety Nets committees. He has served on the executive committee since 2018 and as vice chair since 2021. Additionally, in 2023, Harrison was appointed vice-chair of the Grain Financial Protection Board, and is a director of the American Soybean Association — a role that gives him a unique perspective lobbying on Capitol Hill in the U.S. Harrison believes that leadership takes practice — and has taken advantage of a number of the leadership training opportunities in Ontario agriculture. He is an Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program Class 19 graduate, a past participant in the American Soybean Association Corteva AgriScience Young Leaders program, and is a graduate of the Syngenta/Ivey School of Leadership. MOVING THE INDUSTRY FORWARD As chair, Harrison is looking forward to working with the Board, delegates, farmermembers, and staff to advance the goals of the grain and oilseed industry. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve as the incoming chair of the Board of Directors for Grain Farmers of Ontario,” says Harrison. “I am dedicated to advancing our organization’s long legacy of steadfast advocacy in agriculture. My priority is to champion the diverse interests of our farmer-members, ensuring they have the support needed to thrive as successful family enterprises in Ontario.” “I am thrilled to welcome Jeff as our new chair of the board,” says Crosby Devitt, Grain Farmers of Ontario’s CEO. “With his wealth of experience, strategic insight, and passion for the grain farming industry, I am confident he will steer our organization toward new heights of success.” BACK HOME ON THE FARM Harrison has been farming in the Quinte Region since the early 90s with his wife, Janie, and their four children — Michael, Rachel, Brian, and Charlie. They grow corn, soybeans, and wheat. Harrison can be found on X/Twitter at @feedn4kids.• L-R BRENDAN BYRNE, MP JOHN BARLOW, JEFF HARRISON, AND CROSBY DEVITT AT THE 2023 MARCH CLASSIC.