by Paul Vickers, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)
A new year is upon us and for Ontario’s farmers, that means it’s time to renew their Farm Business Registration (FBR) for another year. It’s required by provincial law for any farm business in Ontario with gross income of at least $7,000 and brings with it a variety of benefits for farmers.
These include access to the farm property class tax rate for agricultural land, being eligible for government funding or cost-share programs, and a membership in one of Ontario’s three accredited farm organizations.
FBR renewal is available online and we encourage all farmers to consider taking advantage of this option. Not only is it faster and more efficient, but it reduces administrative costs which means more of your membership fees can be put towards doing good things for farmers and rural Ontario instead.
For the OFA, a key part of the FBR renewal process is farmers’ selection of their general farm organization of choice for 2023 and their decision on where to allocate their membership dollars.
I farm with my family in Grey County near Meaford and I’ve been a member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) for about 35 years. For me, membership in the OFA gives me the assurance that there is an organization that is taking the time to thoughtfully look out for the best interests of farmers.
It’s challenging for each individual farmer to have the time to understand the many issues that impact agriculture and to grasp the intricacies and implications of government policies and regulations on agriculture and rural communities.
The OFA has the resources and a dedicated and knowledgeable team of staff that allows our organization to do the necessary background work needed to take informed positions on key issues. It’s something I didn’t fully appreciate the value of myself until I became a provincial OFA director in 2019 and become more widely immersed in the activities of the organization.
Personally, I also value the role that OFA plays in helping urban Ontarians understand the challenges and needs of farmers and rural communities, whether that’s the importance of farmland preservation or the benefits of distributing economic growth and development across all regions of the province.
The OFA is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, and we are committed to being an industry leader for our 38,000 farm business members and working to secure the growth, sustainability and profitability of our agri-food sector and rural communities in the province.
We do that through influence, advocacy and collaboration: building relationships, strengthening existing partnerships and solidifying new connections with industry partners, stakeholders, government representatives, and members of the general public.
Of particular priority is bringing the issues and policies affecting the agri-food sector and rural Ontario to the attention of industry stakeholders and the appropriate levels of government.
This includes the importance of protecting farmland through responsible land use development, prioritizing our food security and domestic food production, addressing the challenges of mental health and wellness in agriculture, and highlighting the ongoing need for rural infrastructure investments and a strong and skilled labour force.
We are particularly proud of the reach of our Home Grown campaign, which has attracted the support of over 56,000 Ontarians for local food production and farmland preservation, and of the launch of the Farmer Wellness Initiative (FWI), a free mental health counselling service for Ontario farmers and their families, regardless of farm organization membership that is funded by the provincial and federal governments.
Our county and regional federations are also active in their communities to raise the profile of agriculture, from road safety awareness for slow-moving vehicles and emergency response to agricultural education, local food promotion and food bank support.
We appreciate the loyalty of our members and the trust they place in our organization every year to be their voice, represent their interests and turn their concerns into action. Thank you for your support as we continue to work hard to ensure Farms and Food Forever.
To renew your Farm Business Registration online, visit www.agricorp.com/fbr.