Brekveld returns as OFA leader

Murillo, Ont. — For the third straight one-year term, Murillo’s Peggy Brekveld has been elected president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

Brekveld, who had been the vice-president of the province’s largest farm organization from 2014-2020, was given the vote of confidence by the OFA board of directors on Tuesday at the organization’s annual general meeting in London.

“It’s great to have the confidence of my board and to continue to work for food and farming across this province,” said Brekveld, who is the co-owner of Woodstar Farm along with her husband Gert in Murillo.

Brekveld was elected along with vice-presidents Drew Spoelstra and Crispin Colvin as well as executive member Paul Vickers with the latter three members running farm operations in southern Ontario.

Building on or not building on farmland has become a hot topic in the District of Thunder Bay as Municipality of Neebing property owner Joseph Zawada has indicated he would like to construct a medical clinic after Neebing council approved re-zoning his land from agricultural to rural/general commercial in August 2019.

An appeal by Thunder Bay Co-op Farming Supplies of the re-zoning was sent to the Neebing municipal office in September 2019, but an Ontario Land Tribunal spokesperson said last week that they never received the appeal paperwork over the past three-plus years.

Brekveld said her organization is in the business of protecting farmland and that’s what they strived for through her first two years as president.

“We have raised the profile of agriculture in the province and, in particular, farmland and why it’s such a precious resource,” said Brekveld, who is entering her ninth year as OFA’s Northern Ontario director-at-large. “Only five per cent of the province’s land base is arable or farmable and we should protect that.

“When something is precious, you treat it special like a diamond or a gem. We need to do the same thing as we look at land-use planning where we put all the pieces including houses.”

OFA, based out of Guelph, is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. The farming body represents the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation and media relations.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal