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The CFFO Commentary: Tackling Agricultural Challenges Aided Through Leadership Training

By John Clement

October 1, 2010

I appreciate good leadership. Good leaders have a way of focusing people on critical issues and helping them to work together on finding solutions. Sometimes that involves pioneering a new way of doing things and forcing people to react, while at other times it involves pushing others from behind to bring forward important ideas. There are as many styles of leadership as there are leaders.

Leadership is particularly important in agriculture. A cursory look at farming shows a multitude of commodity and interest groups containing a multitude of opinions about how to move their industries forward. The challenges are multiple and need to bridge subjects as diverse as marketing strategies, communications, relationships with processors and government, and public affairs. Without leadership on these issues, the multitude of voices within agriculture can quickly become a cacophony that quickly descends into inaction and ineffectiveness.

With that perspective in mind, I’m particularly keen on some of the leadership initiatives being offered by the Rural Ontario Institute. Officially launched on April 1 of this year, the ROI “has a mandate to provide rural leadership development and focus on multi-stakeholder engagement for the purposes of engaging rural stakeholders and developing and delivering community engagement strategies; securing and communicating ground intelligence on rural issues; and informing decision makers on rural issues.” It was created through an amalgamation of The Centre for Rural Leadership and The Ontario Rural Council.

The ROI has jumped from the starting gate with three core programs. They include the highly effective Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program, Steps to Leadership and Personal Development Workshops and Seminars. Although all of these programs are important, the AALP program is the centerpiece and features a 48-day program delivered over the course of 19 months. It combines instruction, distance education, international travel and dialogue with business, government, industry and community leaders. Studies show an impressive 11 to 1 payback for agriculture for leadership programs like AALP.

My bet is that the ROI has a few more tricks up its sleeve and will offer even more targeted leadership training opportunities in the future. Those looking for leadership training should check out their website at www.ruralontarioinstitute.ca for announcements and opportunities. And with Class 13 of the AALP program close to graduating, it’s not too early to consider whether you, or someone you might recommend, might be interested in participating in this unique training program.

As I mentioned earlier, Ontario agriculture needs good leaders to meet the challenges of the day. Groups like the ROI make the task of training leaders much more manageable.

John Clement is the General Manager of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, Ontario and is archived on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,353 family farmers across Ontario.

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