Celebrating 25 Years at the Annual General Meeting

For the past 25 years the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) has been an industry-led organization focussed on funding programs that stimulate growth and opportunity for Ontario's agriculture and agri-food industry. 

On December 3, 2020, the AAC membership, board and staff met virtually for our annual general meeting (AGM) to celebrate 25 years. At the event, AAC welcomed greetings and updates from the Honorable Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Dr. John Kelly, Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Mathieu Rochefort, Director of Commercialization Programs Division, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). 

The AAC was incorporated in December 1995, with 47 founding member groups and a mandate of distributing federal adaptation funds through the CanAdapt program. The AAC is still going strong 25 years later with 65 member organization and the continued delivery of funding programs. Those current programs include phase two of the OMAFRA funded Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative for the Ontario greenhouse sector; AAFC’s Emergency Processing Fund for food processors in Manitoba, Nunavut and Ontario; and, AAC’s partnership with Ontario Genomics and Genome Canada, funding genomics research projects through the Ontario Regional Priorities Partnership Program. 

Over the past 25 years AAC has delivered more than 30 different funding programs on behalf of the federal and provincial governments and through industry partnerships, committing more than $302 million in support to almost 3,900 projects.   

While AAC has been busy with program delivery this past year, it has also been a successful year operating under it’s new business model. At the 2019 AGM, the AAC membership approved this model, which included the creation of a second not-for-profit organization, now known as Canlead Solutions. Since January 2020, Canlead has been working with a variety of clients across the Canadian agriculture and food industry, providing a range of services from day-to-day executive director duties, financial management and board support services, management of science clusters, and one-time projects which include governance and organizational reviews. While AAC and Canlead share the same team of experienced administration professionals, both organizations have separate visions and missions and are operating with separate boards. AAC is excited to see how Canlead and the relationship between the two organizations will evolve independently over the upcoming year.

At the AGM, the AAC membership elected the following individuals to serve on the 2020-2021 AAC board of directors. And at the inaugural board meeting, following the AGM, the new board elected the 2020-2021 executive committee, as noted below. 

  • Chair: Chris Hiemstra, Other Industries/Commodity Groups 
  • Vice Chair: Ed Scharringa, General Farm Interest 
  • Treasurer: Dennis Fischer, Livestock 
  • Secretary: Sara Wood, Youth-at-Large 
  • Doug Alexander, Agri-business/Retail/Food Processor 
  • Peggy Brekveld, General Farm Interest 
  • Keith Black, Grains/Seeds/Oilseeds/Specialty Crops 
  • Ray Duc, Horticulture  
  • Joe Hill, Livestock 
  • Cor Kaptyn, Supply Management  
  • Ruth Knight, Other Organizations  
  • Jamie Payton, Grains/Seeds/Oilseeds/Specialty Crops  
  • Mark Wales, Horticulture  
  • Henry Wydeven, Supply Management

Two retiring directors, Kelly Duffy and Pam Jackson, were thanked for their dedicated years of services to the AAC and valuable input around the board table.

“For 25 years, AAC has been focused on helping the Ontario agriculture and agri-food industry adapt to changes and address opportunities across the sector,” said AAC Chair, Chris Hiemstra. “Building on the great input we heard from our members in 2019, AAC continues to explore how to best leverage our unique position as a trusted and knowledgeable partner to both government and the broader agri-food sector.”