The group’s origins date back to Ontario’s 2014 PED outbreak
A new organization has been formed in Ontario to represent land-based contractors providing equipment services to local farmers.
Leaders of the Ontario Professional Agri-Contractors Association (OPACA) launched the idea of creating OPACA 2014 after Ontario’s manure challenges with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED).
At the time, the federal government announced funding through Growing Forward 2 to support farmers, but not contractors, in modifying equipment to help prevent the spread of PED.
But since contractors complete a large portion of manure hauling, it was time to create a united organization, according to Sonke Claussen, OPACA president and custom farm contractor.
“Probably 50 per cent of manure hauling is done by contractors,” Claussen told Farms.com today. “(Contractors) have a spot here in Ontario but we weren’t being recognized.”
Though the group formed out of PED and manure issues, OPACA will represent all farm equipment contractors.
And having a united voice can help contractors in a number of ways, Claussen said.
“It just makes sense to try to get everybody who provides land-based farm services in one association,” he said. “We want to help (members) with legislators and the community, and help introduce contractors to potential clients.”
OPACA held its inaugural meeting in Woodstock, Ont., on Sept. 13. Attendees learned about the organization, its goals and future plans.
And early indications suggest the agricultural community sees OPACA as a positive organization for the industry, Claussen said.
“We’ve signed contractors up (for membership), we’ve had conversations with potential sponsors and overall the feedback has been good,” he said. “Contractors see the benefits of the organization and have told us they want representation and knowledge exchanges between peers.”
OPACA’s board of directors is working on the organization’s constitution. The group hopes to hold its first annual general meeting in March or April 2018.