Perspectives differ on farm organizations

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Wales is looking forward to changes that make farmers that pay the FBR as supporters and remove the reference as members. If that is true then the government is setting a legislative precedent. People that give money to any organization, will be deemed a quasi member. I support the Heart and Stroke Foundation, local hospital foundation, local children services foundation, cancer foundation, Aborginal Healing foundation, Value village, Red Cross, Better Day Alliance, Richard Ivey foundation, Terry Fox foundation, Kids for Kamps, Breakfast Club for kids, Breakfast for Learning, Clarity Foundation, Mental Health foundation, Ontario Neurotrauma foundation, every group that sells fund raiser tickets, and list goes on. Now I will have membership to every organization I support and those organizations will be able speak on my behalf. Newletters have to be sent to every supporter because every organization will explode in their membership. I cant wait to have a say at their annual meetings!!! Supporters will now have the same legislative rights as members. No need to sign registration forms, just support the organization. Isnt it nice to see that farmers are at the forefront of societial change?

You have an obligation to be accountable to your members but not to supporters .
You do not have to be an OFA member to be a director either . All you need to do is be a supporter . You don't even have to farm .
What are they going to do with their member benefits ? Will/do supporters get Better Farming for free ?

You're right. But can the OFA speak on behalf of supporters? The OFA likes to make people think they speak for agriculture but that is false. The OFA only has the right to speak for members that are registered farm businesses. They speak for businesses. When the OFA sell raffle tickets, they will accumulate alot of supporters. The government is now saying that the OFA can speak for supporters. I hope the government recognizes that component to all sectors. I will gladly donate to the teacher unions so I have a say in their affairs.

Next question is how can you set a fee for a supporter ?
Memberships usually come with a set fee but supporters are able to give what ever they want . Could really open up a can of worms .
If you give a donation to the Liberal, PC's or NDP no matter how much or how little you give your are a supporter .

Further how will this work with voting rights at the AGM ?
Now you can only run for a position on the executive if you are already a director . Will this open things up so any one can run for the executive positions ? Will every supporter be allowed to vote ? Changes with the Not For Profit act will change things also .
If you read this weeks Ontario Farmer letters there might be some new thinking that will make a big difference .

The whole confusion came about because some lawyer decided that when farmers fill out the Farm Business Registration form each year and send 195$ plus HST to agricorp to be sent to the General Farm Organization of the farmers choice that didn't constitute being a member even though they had the option to request a refund. This goes against what most members of the OFA and I suggest most farmers think is a deal. If you pay your money and don't ask for it back that means you want to belong to the organization you paid to as a full member per the organizations constitution in regard to FBR members. In the past if you requested a refund you couldn't be an OFA director or county board member. Now with the "new rules" you must have sent in the second form to be a "member" before you can be a county or provincial director or even vote at a county or regional OFA meeting, and it is checked very close (at least in Bruce and Grey counties)

Under the 2014 rules, supporters can't be directors, don't get member benefits, (this caused a lot of confusion when some people tried to get the OFA discounts on a Dodge truck, and resulted in many calls to do the second step now so they get their discount) and you won't get Better farming, or in Bruce county you won't get the Rural Voice either, once we finish updating the mailing list for people that are no longer members.

John Gillespie
Past President Bruce County Federation of Agriculture

I disagree. Farmers are forced to remit to a GFO. If its really about registering a farm business then a outside group should be asking for the registration fee. If farmers want to be members of a GFO, that is a separate issue and should be treated separately. The real problem is the GFO are getting farm registration money and THINK its a membership fee. ITS NOT!

But I agree completely with the rest of your post. I would like it left the way it is, the way it has been for years. Raube Beuerman

Under what is now being put forth , what used to be called members will now be called supporters . So you are now saying that supporters can not be county or provincial directors . Where will the board of directors be coming from ?

First and foremost you "MUST" register your farm in order to get your property tax rebate and most any other gov programs . That registration is with one of the three farm GFO's . The legislation entitlement is that you must register with a GFO and the GFO's get to keep the money if you do not request a refund . Agricorp charges the GFO's a fee for processing . That fee might be $16.00 . You might say the GFO's have a form of supply management entitlement legislation .

The biggest reason that OFA members pay their fee is because they want their farm tax rebate . I believe it was 80% who put this down as their reason on an OFA survey . The other 20% likely did not know their taxes were tied to their membership , do not know there is a difference or just figure they get it because a farmer signs their farm tax rebate form .

The Farm Tax Rebate should not be tied to being a member of any organization that because of legislation kneels down to the gov because of funding .

One of the big problems is that most farmers make the assumption that every farm pays the same amount of taxes . Truth is some who are in or close to larger urban centres pay a whole lot more . Some might pay in the area of $10,000.00 or more just for the 25% farm rate on 100 acres . Some might also be in the Green Belt where they have been designated Green and not White which is developement land . That is a huge difference than some one in Bruce or Grey county who might pay $1000.00 a year in taxes for 100 acres . Big freaking difference in cost of getting your road plowed , garbage picked up and blue box collection .

You're very first line is incorrect. Farm taxes are not rebated.

The 'tax rebate' as you call it is not tied to a GFO membership.

I couldn't read the rest of your comments because there were far too many incorrect statements in the first couple of paragraphs. If the OFA want to make headway on the municipal tax issue, then they should educated their members and their supports. The OFA should also be asking why they have so many supporters that just dont want to sign the membership form.

My first line is NOT incorrect . Any farm enterprise must register if the want the programs . You can disput the first sentence . Maybe I should ask forgiveness for being more of an older thinking farmer who remembers the programs as what they first were . Ask any older farmer and the answer will most times be the Farm Tax Rebate . Ask most young people and all they know is that they pay the amount billed . Many have no idea that the dollars not billed are part of the broader program . If they are not billed for it most don't know or care .

Changing the wording of member to supporter and not asking people to 1) sign a member form or 2) pay a sperate membership fee IS tying the fee paid to the program eligability . To make it after the fact that you can ask for a refund is a joke at best . You can be a supporter of a political party by making a donation . You only become a member by making a minimum payment for a membership . Members have the right to vote . Supporters do not .

As for why many do not care to sign memebership forms , likely is because they really only want the FPCTRP . One big downfall or problem is people need to WANT to become members . When it is tied to legislation that you must submit a fee , it takes the want right out of it .

Being a member might make one reasonably think they are being represented. It might make them think they have a voice. The bigger question is “what are they (GFO)doing well”? As opposed to complaints, memberships voice should give direction but several initiatives of late have been spawn by outside corporate and government partisan wishes. Several of these initiatives have been adopted without resolution from membership or even discussion from the ground up. I guess this is called supportive resolution and direction. If SPCA or conservation were to give a support donation to be a supportive member would their opinions be heard? How then can legitimate farm concerns be weighted to be heard with validity?

Next question is who wants to be associated with this type of resolution?

Back to what is being done well? That list has morphed of late to include clothing dodge trucks and cell phones. Seriously if I budget 200.00 plus tax annually to my farm representation there is a Canadian business group .... yup I am in business and I would still have enough left over to be a “member” at Costco to get cheap phones and clothing.

Dilution by saturation leaves you with little quality to work with ...careful what you morph to, or wish for.

The following is a story link that is soon to unite the attention of all farmers in Huron county and the province. The question is what will OFA do about it?


" Then he suggests the county will need to either change the tax ratio for farmers, or work with farmers in going to the Queen’s Park to ask the province to pay it’s fair share."

It will be interesting to see what OFA does about this.

So the question becomes, if the farmers and Huron county lobby the province and the province won't rebate the full 75% on farmland as they have always promised, then what? It appears some at Huron County council are suggesting farm land owners will have to pay more than 25%. Couple this with graduated farmland reassessment policy and farmers all across the province will have to pay a lot more in property taxes. Meanwhile, OFA is suggesting the guideline 25% maximum could be lower to adjust for the increase in farmland assessment.

How would that lobby be structured ? The best way to deal with this is through an audit of OMAFRA . The 75% portion that is not paid by farmers is part of the Ag budget within the province is it not ? Would an audit of OMAFRA show where the money is used or lost in the black hole called the provincial budget ? When was the last audit of OMAFRA done ?

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