Vice-president elected president at OFA

Members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture have harvested a new president from their executive roster.

Mark Wales, a vegetable producer at Aylmer, Ont., about 35 km southeast of London, was chosen Monday in Toronto as the OFA’s new president, replacing Bette Jean Crews.

The OFA, billed as Canada’s largest voluntary farm organization, hadn’t yet officially released the results Monday. The outcome was confirmed Monday afternoon by OFA director-at-large Joe Dickenson on his Twitter feed, as well as by local media.

Wales narrowly won the president’s job by a single vote over his fellow OFA vice-president, Don McCabe, a corn, soy and wheat grower at Inwood. A third candidate, Huron County dairyman and OFA director Wayne Black, was defeated on the first ballot.

Wales, who has a B.Sc. in agriculture from the University of Guelph, has grown vegetables including peppers, tomatoes, beans and herbs at Aylmer since 1986. His presentation as a Nuffield Scholar was on "Alternative Crops to Replace Tobacco in Ontario."

He came to the OFA as a director with the Elgin County Federation of Agriculture, and has also served as president of the Garlic Growers’ Association, and chair of the safety net committee for the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.

Posting separately on Twitter Monday afternoon, Wales briefly thanked those who announced the results publicly, adding, "Now the work begins."

The OFA, operating since 1936, represents and lobbies for about 38,000 farmers across the province.

The federation’s annual convention concludes Tuesday in Toronto with the election of its vice-presidents. Three OFA directors, Keith Currie, Debra Pretty-Straathof and Larry Davis, are running for the two posts.

In Monday’s other OFA vote, Dickenson was re-elected as director-at-large over candidates Louis Roesch and Kim Sytsma.

Related story:

OFA president won’t run again, Sept. 28, 2011

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