Farm shows bring people together

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by Teresa Van Raay, Director, OFA

September means fall harvest on the farm. And while that’s a busy time of year, the Ontario agriculture industry also makes time for two of the biggest agricultural shows on its calendar: Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS) and the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM).

COFS is an annual three-day outdoor show held at Discovery Farm Woodstock, taking place this year from September 12 to 14. For almost 30 years, the event has showcased the newest and most innovative products and technologies in agriculture to Ontario’s farm community.

From crop plots and cattle handling demonstrations to the latest in robotic technology and automated farming, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show is a chance for farmers to see, hear, touch, and ask questions about farming tools, practices and innovations.

The IPM takes place a week later and is hosted in a different Ontario community each year. This year, Bowling Green, near Orangeville, is home to the five-day event which will take place September 19-23. Just like its name implies, the IPM features plowing competitions, but it offers much more than that, including many opportunities to learn about food and farming.

For the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), both events are a great opportunity to host visitors at our booth, Federation House, and we look forward to having you stop by for a visit and a cup of coffee or cider.

OFA board members and staff, including Member Service Representatives, will be at Federation House, ready and willing to speak with members about their farms, issues, concerns and more.

I farm with my family in Huron County near Dashwood, and I’ve always loved attending agriculture industry events like COFS or the IPM. I’ve always enjoyed making connections with people, and there’s something unique about the atmosphere at a farm show that encourages new ideas and helps people get excited about agriculture.

Now that I’m a director on the OFA Board, I enjoy being part of our booth at Federation House and getting to meet members and fellow farmers face to face. The relaxed show environment encourages conversations which aren’t always just about the farm. Yes, we’re directors representing the OFA, but we are also part of a community which cares for each other and wants to celebrate who we are, where we live and what we do.

The International Plowing Match often also attracts politicians from all levels of government, and it’s a great experience to introduce someone to our industry who doesn’t know much about agriculture and give them some first-hand glimpses into the life and business that is farming.

My own personal connection to the IPM goes back to 1999 when the event was hosted in my home county of Huron. I was a volunteer at that event and enjoyed it so much that I signed up again when the match came back to Huron County in 2017. The IPM is a volunteer-run event, and being part of that is a great opportunity to meet people, and to enjoy the unique sense of community spirit that’s present when people come together for a common cause.

The OFA is a member-driven organization, and we rely on the input and feedback from our members to help identify issues that matter to Ontario farmers and guide our advocacy efforts. Whether at COFS, the IPM or any of the other smaller events that OFA will be attending this fall, we encourage you to make time to catch up with us and let us know what’s on your mind – we’re looking forward to seeing you.

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