WINCHESTER – A familiar face in the area’s agricultural scene is looking to make a jump to the provincial level.

Longtime agricultural advocate Jackie Pemberton will be vying for the regional director position for Zone 11 with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in an election later this summer. Press Photo – Uhrig

Former Dundas Federation of Agriculture (DFA) president Jackie Pemberton announced last week that she’ll vying for the Zone 11 regional director position with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

“It’s a matter of timing for me,” Pemberton said when she sat down with the Winchester Press Fri., July 7.

When the last zone director election took place in 2014, matters in her personal life kept Pemberton from throwing her hat in the ring.

This time around, she’s fully committed.

Doing so, however, will put her in direct competition with Eleanor Renaud, who has served as zone director since the OFA’s new board structure was implemented in 2009.

The region’s zone covers the counties of Dundas, Frotenac, Grenville and Leeds, and represents 1,500 members. Renaud will be seeking a fourth mandate.

Pemberton insists there is zero animosity between her and the incumbent.

“We need strong women leaders because there’s not a lot of them,” Pemberton said. “This is not a dig at Eleanor… An election is a good thing.”

The challenge, she noted, is voter turnout. Renaud was acclaimed three years ago, and in 2011 just 247 ballots were cast.

“As incumbents are generally at a decided advantage in elections, I look to encourage the OFA membership in Zone 11 to take the time to vote,” Pemberton said. “Change only happens when farmers vote.”

The chance to represent the area at the provincial level seems like a natural transition for Pemberton, who has long called her family’s Pemberton Road farm home.

Beyond that, she was first elected DFA president just after the Walkerton water tragedy, in a time when the Clean Water Act was created, which was followed by the Nutrient Management Act, and finally Source Water Protection.

Pemberton has provided input on a number of provincial funding models, and has represented Dundas during pre-budget consultations and one-on-one meetings with all levels of government.

She was also part of the committee that helped create a permanent home for the DFA at the Nelson LaPrade Centre in Chesterville, among other initiatives.

Pemberton was also the county federation’s representative on the OFA Policy Advisory Council from 2009 to 2014, has worked for South Nation Conservation in various capacities, and helped Winchester’s Parmalat plant become a force in the local clean water initiative.

She’s also the chair of the Dundas Agricultural Community Group, which has hosted two successful galas in support of other area organizations, and in 2013 was the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program’s recipient of the Richard Lichty Memorial Award for exemplifying leadership qualities.

All of this is but a snapshot of Pemberton’s extensive resume.

“Going into this, I would say the biggest challenge is the perception of what the OFA does for farmers,” she said. “I’m sure a good majority see it as a tax base reduction, and are maybe not clear on what [the organization does]… I want to change that.”

How to vote

Election information packages will be mailed out to OFA members later this summer, and the voting process is open between Mon., Aug. 21 and Fri., Sept. 8.

The letter will indicate three voting options – mail, phone, and online. A code will be given, and that will be used along with the voting method chosen.

One vote is allowed per individual farm member, and one vote is allowed per farm business registrant.