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OFA receives accreditation status

December 6, 2012, Guelph, ON – The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) received confirmation today that it is once again an accredited farm organization. The OFA, along with the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and the National Farmers Union of Ontario, were initially denied accreditation by the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal in May 2012, after completing the application process that is due every three years.  

“We are delighted that OFA meets the requirements for accreditation, and we can focus our resources where they should be: on enabling prosperous and sustainable farms,” says Mark Wales, President of OFA. “This was a valuable learning experience for OFA, and how we think about membership.”

Ontario’s general farm organizations encountered problems with accreditation because the Tribunal determined there was a lack of an explicit agreement for “membership” in the OFA. And, as the accreditation criteria referred to membership practices that dated back to 2011, General Farm Organizations (GFO) were unable to become accredited under the existing 13 regulatory criteria. In November 2012, Agriculture Minster Ted McMeekin recognized the dilemma and took measures to enable Ontario’s GFOs to become accredited.

With this new accreditation, becoming an OFA member in 2013 will now require a two-step process. The first step is the same as previous years – requiring farmers to register their farm business during the farm business registration process early in 2013. As always, the form will ask farmers to select an accredited GFO to join, and to write a cheque for $195 in the selected organization’s name. This registers the farm business as a “supporter” of the OFA, but not as a “member.”

New for 2013, farmers who select OFA on their farm business registration form will receive a membership package with an explicit membership agreement. This membership agreement is the second step that enables farmers to register as a member of OFA. Members will be required to sign the form to become a member, at no additional cost. Farmers must complete this second step to be an OFA member, receive a membership card and enjoy all benefits associated with OFA membership.

“We are aware that this new way of doing things will require a significant communication effort, but we’re optimistic about the process with Ontario farmers,” Wales says. “From helping guide policy to assistance from our Member Service Representatives to the many exclusive offers available through our Member Benefit program, we are confident Ontario farmers will enjoy tremendous value in their membership with OFA.”

OFA will launch a membership drive in early January 2013 outlining details around the new process for becoming a member.