Farm organizations scramble to regain status
By James Pascual
There are no provincially accredited English-language farm organizations in Ontario.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) have been stripped of their accreditation by an OMAFRA tribunal.
They’ve lost their accreditation based on technicalities and are now busy re-working bylaws and pushing paper to jump through the hoops and get back in the province’s good graces.
Every three years since 1992, OMAFRA looks at the way the farm organizations operate and this year the tribunal has interpreted the rules differently.
The tribunal found numerous issues, of which the biggest is common to all three
organizations. The rules suggest that farmers are making a payment to the farm
organizations when they should be paying a membership fee. NFU Ontario co-ordinator
Ann Slater, of St. Mary’s, said all three organizations are working to comply
with the rules. "It’s complicated and confusing and very technical." Meanwhile,
"it’s business as usual. We’re not accredited but we are still working for our
As one example, it was unclear that members were voting for their own Ontario board members, instead of being appointed by the national NFU. So, the bylaw was changed to make that clear, Slater said.
Meanwhile, OMAFRA will hold back funds from organization members, who pay $190 per year, until a farm organization has shown it meets the criteria.
OFA vice-president Debra Pretty-Strathoff said she was surprised by the ruling, but "we’re not bent out of shape about it."
She said the OFA has met with OMAFRA and "these issues we find quite easy to address and hope there are simple solutions."
She encouraged farmers to register each year with Agricorp or they will lose their farm class tax status.