OFA Attracts Young Farmers

Jan 31, 2014

Young Farmers Tour John Deere Canada’s Headquarters

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

Ontario Federation of Agriculture hosted a Young Farmers Summit intended to encourage more young farmers to get involved with its farm lobby organization. Attendees were treated to a behind the scenes tour of John Deere Canada’s national head office and parts distribution depot in Grimsby, Ont.

Ontario’s largest farm lobby group, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, or OFA, is thinking about the future – a future that includes young and beginner farmers. The farm organization says is expanding its outreach initiatives to target a younger demographic of farmers.

On Wednesday, OFA held its inaugural Young Farmers Summit which served as an opportunity for young farmers to learn about technology, network and meet OFA staff. The event included an exclusive tour of John Deere’s depot in Grimsby, Ont., and featured a presentation from Jeff Adams, a Canadian Paralympian and six-time world champion in wheelchair sports.

The following video was shown at the summit, which offers some insight regarding farming into the future from John Deere’s perspective.

The event was a success for OFA. After months of planning, OFA was able to bring out 52 young farmers from across the province. Attendees traveled as far as Kent, Peterborough, Simcoe, Huron and Grey counties. Between young farmers, OFA board members, and sponsors the attendance was about 64, not including John Deere employees.  

“We were really happy with the Summit,” said Janine Lunn, OFA’s member services representative for Elgin and Oxford. “It’s so gratifying to see it all come together and with such a good turnout,” she said.

The day focused on the latest farming technology that John Deere has to offer, building connections with fellow young farmers and getting motivated about the future of agriculture. All of these elements were achieved by touring the parts depot and learning about precision agriculture tools, listening to Jeff Adams speak about his personal experiences with sports and persevering in life, and hearing from young OFA directors talk about agriculture policy initiatives and opportunities to get involved.

Jeff Adams Motivates a Crowd of Young Farmers

Jeff Adams encouraged the young farmers in the audience to keep consistent in everything that they do in life, maintain excellence and always finish what they start. “You are currently surrounded by excellence,” he said.

Adams shared his struggles to overcome barriers with his disability after radiation therapy for cancer led to a spinal injury at the age of nine, leaving him paralyzed. “Listen for sounds of supporters. None of us get to the finish line alone…be that sound for others,” he said. Adams has since retired from competition and makes wheelchairs.

This video provides a snapshot into Jeff Adams` life.

The summit was sponsored by John Deere, Farm Credit Canada, Scotia Bank and several local county federations who assisted with travel expenses for some participants. “Huge thanks to John Deere for providing a first-class experience to our group,” said Lunn.

OFA plans to continue and offer young farmer themed events throughout the year. The organization is planning two ‘tailgate socials’ for the Western Fair Farm Show, and the Ottawa Valley Farm Show. Lunn says OFA also plans to bring a summit-style event to the Ottawa region, at Kemptville College. “Mentorship is an emerging theme so new approaches to traditional OFA events will be key,” explains Lunn.

“We hope the takeaway message is that we value our young farmer members, and we encourage them to get involved in the federation,” said Lunn. “If young farmers are looking to have input on agricultural policy… OFA is the place to do that,” she said.

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