Within Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province is divided into 15 districts, each of which is assigned a minimum of eight delegates. Additional delegates are allocated based on the extent to which each district’s total estimated combined acreage of barley, corn, oats, soybeans, and wheat exceeds 6.7 per cent of their total provincial acreage. The acreage is estimated based on adjusting production figured for average yields relative to each of the three crops. District alignment and delegate allocations will be reviewed not less than every five years thereafter, based on the most recent production data. Districts will be required to represent a minimum of five percent of production as defined above, except for northern Ontario, which will be assured a minimum of one district, and eastern Ontario, which will be assured a minimum of two districts, to respect the extent of the geography involved, regardless of the quantity of production. Use the interactive map below to find your director or delegate.
Click on the district in your area and the district number, name, and director will appear:
Brendan Byrne is the director for District 1 (Essex). He was elected as director in 2015 after serving as a delegate for five years and the local chairman for three. He’s also a past local chair for the Essex Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Byrne was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Directors in 2018.
Byrne is involved with Grain Farmers of Ontario because he believes it’s important for the younger generation to keep the family farm alive. Through the organization he sees the opportunity to be a part of the broader business issues affecting farmers at the local and provincial level.
Byrne is an active member of the Communications Committee for which he leans on his background as a part-owner of a film and video production company. He believes proper messaging is important, especially when you are educating non-farmers about the reality of today’s agricultural industry.
Farming and family are the main aspects of Byrne’s life in Essex County. He operates a 1,500 acre cash crop farm with his Dad and Uncle. They’ve passed along a farming tradition that he is now starting to see take root in his own children Alyssa and Brendan.
When not busy on the farm, Byrne and his wife, Mindy, can be found getting the children to their various sporting events. During hockey and baseball seasons, Byrne can be found on the sidelines as the coach of their teams. He’s an active reader, is involved in film and video production, and enjoys social networking with other farmers as a means to further his knowledge of the industry and new crop management techniques. He can be found on Twitter @heybrendan.
District 2 - Mark Huston
Mark Huston is the director for District 2 (Kent) and vice chair of the Board of Directors. He has held both of these positions since the formation of Grain Farmers of Ontario in 2010.
Huston farms 1,300 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat with his father, Larry, and his uncle, Terry, north of Thamesville. The Hustons have an interest in new technologies that can improve their farming operation and have been using precision agriculture technology (yield maps and yield data) to help manage their farm since 1999. In addition to their cash crops, the Hustons have about 1,100 finishing pigs.
Huston is a member of the Finance and Audit Committee and the March Classic Committee. He also serves as a representative of our organization to the American Soybean Association and the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council. He is the chair of Soy Canada and the youth-at-large representative on the Agricultural Adaptation Council.
Huston has a strong interest in international markets and the potential that exists there for Ontario’s soybean crop. He feels it is important to find new uses and new markets for soybeans and for this information to be shared with farmers so they have a broader understanding of their role within the domestic and global value-chain.
Huston is the seventh generation to work the family farm. He and his wife, Alicia, hope their sons, Henry and Andrew, will carry on the tradition. In his spare time, Huston plays rugby and keeps his musical talent in tune by playing guitar. He can be found on Twitter @HustonFarms.
District 3 - Emery Huszka
Emery Huszka is the director for District 3 (Lambton). He joined the Board of Directors in 2019 after serving as a delegate for five years and as district chair for three years. Huszka wanted to take on the role of director because he believes grain farmers are facing a number of significant political and trade-related issues that our organization needs to address.
Huszka farms in Lambton and Chatham-Kent, but his home is in Lambton. The family farm was started by his grandparents who were refugees from Hungary in the 1950s. Throughout the years, the farm has grown tobacco, grazed cattle, and grown a variety of crops. Huszka now focuses on growing corn and soybeans.
Huszka is a firm believer in using cover crops and no-till to increase soil health and prevent erosion. He is also concerned about Great Lakes water quality issues, and during his three-year term as president of the National Farmers Union in Ontario he focused on promoting the best management practices farmers use to protect waterways.
Huszka has a BA in political science from Western University, an industrial management certificate from Fanshawe College, and has taken several courses related to manufacturing and human resource management. After university, Huszka spent several years working on Parliament Hill before returning home. He spent 15 years as an industrial foreman in the automotive industry. For the past seven years, he has been a Maizex seed dealer.
The farm families in Lambton have always impressed Huszka with their high level of participation with Grain Farmers of Ontario and he encourages every family to attend information sessions and be in contact with the district delegates to help direct the efforts of our organization as we work together to create a more prosperous agriculture sector for everyone.
Dave McEachren is the director for District 4 (Middlesex). He was elected as director in 2016 after serving as a delegate for three years. McEachren was part of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Grains in Action program in 2012, and, as a representative of Grain Farmers of Ontario, was selected for the 2014-15 American Soybean Association / DuPont Young Leader Program.
McEachren is currently a director on the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario, and has served as president of the Canadian Junior Hereford Association, president of the Glencoe Agricultural Society, and sat on the board of Agricorp.
Pleased to represent his county on the Grain Farmers of Ontario Board, McEachren is looking forward to focusing on resolving major industry issues, while not forgoing other important factors like marketing our products to the rest of the world. McEachren is chair of the Research and Innovation Committee and a member of the Resolutions Committee. On the local front, he looks forward to continuing the good work the board has been doing at communicating our messages within the challenging local food market. McEachren is the fourth generation of farmers in his family. Together with his father, John, and uncle, Earl, they operate a 2,300 acre grain farm in Southwest Middlesex, producing corn, soybeans, and wheat. They dry, store, and market all of the grain from the farm. A focus on soil health and cover crops makes up a large part of the operation. McEachren has also been a DuPont Pioneer sales representative for 10 years.
When not busy on the farm, McEachren enjoys spending time with his two children, Mason and Samantha , and is known to collect pieces of John Deere memorabilia, from time to time. This hobby has opened the door to various speaking engagements in Canada and the U.S., as McEachren has become well-known for his knowledge of Deere & Co. facts.
Scott Persall is the director for Grain Farmers of Ontario’s District 5 (Elgin and Norfolk). He is the third generation to work the family farm near Waterford known as Roanoke Farm. Along with his father, Doug, and his wife, Sara, he grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 400 acres. They also have 13,000 laying hens.
Persall was a delegate for the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association and was elected as a director for that organization just before the merger that formed Grain Farmers of Ontario. He served as a delegate for Grain Farmers of Ontario for two years before being elected as a director in 2013. Persall has represented the organization on the Grain and Oilseed Biosecurity Advisory Committee and with Excel Grains, the Canadian on-farm food safety program for grains.
As a director, Persall now serves on the Government Relations Committee and the Finance Committee. He has chosen to be active in the organization because he is interested in educating consumers about where their food comes from and he wants to help fellow producers by working with industry and government to make a stronger and more sustainable grains and oilseeds industry.
Persall is also involved in his community; he works at the committee level with the Norfolk County Agriculture Society and looks after the lighting and sound at his church. When not busy on the farm during the summer, he enjoys racing sailboats. In the winter, he is a coach for his children’s hockey teams. Persall and his wife have three children Ethan, Justin and Lauren.
District 6 - Jeff Barlow
Jeff Barlow is the director for District 6 (Haldimand, Brant, Hamilton, Niagara). He was elected as director in 2016 after serving as a delegate since 2012.
Barlow got involved with Grain Farmers of Ontario because he believes the agriculture industry needs a voice, and just staying on the farm and hoping that our voice is being heard just isn’t good enough. He believes in the vision of Grain Farmers of Ontario and the direction of the organization is well aligned with his own.
“Farming is becoming more than just about growing crops. Our industry needs to move forward united, and with common goals. I am passionate about technology and the future of farming and hope that we maintain the social license to use these technologies,” he says.
Barlow’s farm started in 1843 near Binbrook. He is the 6th generation to farm the land, and works alongside his father, growing corn, soybeans, and wheat, with a focus on white hilum soybeans for the export market. His wife Dianne works off-farm as an elementary school vice principal, and together they have three boys all eager to help out on the farm whenever they can.
Barlow enjoys aerial photography and using drones to capture field images. If he’s not at the farm, you can find him with his family going camping, snowmobiling, and fishing. You can find him on Twitter as @barlowfarms1843.
District 7 - Kevin Armstrong
Kevin Armstrong is the director for District 7 (Waterloo, Oxford). He is the third generation on his family farm in Woodstock where he and his parents grow 750 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans.
Armstrong has been a director since 2012 and currently serves as a member of the Wheat Marketing Committee and Government Relations Committee.
Technological innovations in the agricultural industry are an interest for Armstrong, who is always looking for tools that will help increase on-farm efficiencies and production.
Armstrong, and his wife, Aggie, have one daughter, Eleanor. They enjoy the seasonality of cash cropping that allows them to follow their second calling – travelling.
District 8 - Keith Black
Keith Black was elected director for District 8 (Huron) in 2014. Keith farms 400 acres near Belgrave growing corn, soybeans and wheat, and does custom planting and combining. He also pastures cattle each summer, finishing them over the winter. His farm has been in his family for over a century.
Black served several years as a Delegate for the Ontario Soybean Growers and was a Director at the time of amalgamation. He was a Grain Farmers of Ontario Delegate prior to his election as Director.
His involvement in local agriculture is evident as he has been a member of the Drinking Water Source Protection Committee since inception and is a Past President of the Huron County Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Keith also served on the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association Executive, serving as President in 2006.
As a Director for Grain Farmers of Ontario, Black is a member of the Market Development Committee which advises the Board on strategic planning and initiatives for marketing and utilizing grains and oilseeds for profitable growth. Black wanted to be part of this committee because he has always been interested in alternative energy, exploring new uses and markets for crops, and learning about new opportunities.
Black says one of his best attributes is that he is a good listener and he wants to hear from farmers in his District about issues that concern them.
Black and his wife, Barb, have two married daughters – Vicky and Brent farm near Goderich, Ontario and Heather and J. C. live and work in Alberta. When not busy with farm work or serving on committees, Black enjoys family time, hunting, and fishing. The Blacks also enjoys travelling – Australia and New Zealand are on their bucket list, as are regular trips west to visit their daughter.
District 9 - Josh Boersen
Josh Boersen is the director for District 9 (Perth). He took on the role of director in 2019 after serving as a delegate in 2018. Boersen has an interest in government policy and has taken an active role with Grain Farmers of Ontario to help alleviate the challenges grain farmers are facing and help to promote the good work of the grain industry.
Boersen is the third generation working on the family farm, Bradi Farm, located just north of Stratford. He and his father grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and small edible beans, raise broiler chickens, as well as some custom work for neighbouring farmers. Boersen is now also a director of the local Perth Soil and Crop Improvement Association. He believes better soil produces better crops and leads to better overall nutrient management. He and his father are striving to improve the soil health in their fields to ensure the longevity of their farm.
Boersen trained as a mechanical engineering technologist at Fanshawe College and briefly worked off-farm after graduating. He uses this background to build and modify equipment they can use on their farm as well as projects for other farmers.
Boersen and his wife, Erin, have two children, Jack and Abigail. When not busy farming, he enjoys building with advanced LEGO sets.
He can be found on Twitter @JoshBoersen.
District 10 - Henry Van Ankum
Henry Van Ankum is the director for Grain Farmers of Ontario District 10 (Grey, Bruce, Wellington). He served as director since the amalgamation of the legacy organizations in 2010 and served as chair of the Board of Directors from 2012 to 2015 (fulfilling the maximum three-year term).
Van Ankum farms 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat near Alma. He started farming in 1989 upon graduation from the University of Guelph with an associate diploma in agriculture.
Van Ankum chairs Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Research Committee and serves on the Wheat Marketing Committee. He feels Grain Farmers of Ontario plays an important role by offering a producer-controlled bid in the marketplace for wheat and providing farmers with marketing options such as the Wheat Pool program.
He serves as a representative for the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance, the Grain Financial Protection Board, and the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee. Van Ankum is also a board member of Cereals Canada and vice-chair of the board at the Canadian International Grains Institute.
Van Ankum has also been actively involved in numerous grain farming issues including the risk management program, plant breeder’s rights, and pollinator protection. He has regularly met with provincial and federal politicians to discuss how government policy is affecting farmers.
When not on the farm or in the Grain Farmers of Ontario boardroom, Van Ankum enjoys spending time with his family and watching sports. He and his wife, Susan, have four children, Holly, Jamie, Zach, and Alex.
District 11 - Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott is the director for District 11 (Dufferin, Simcoe, Halton, Peel, York). He has held this position since 2012, previously serving as a delegate for Grain Farmers of Ontario and its legacy organizations.
Elliott farms with his son, James, in Phelpston, milking 40 cows and planting 900 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and, on occasion, specialty beans.
Elliott is passionate about representing the interests of farmers in his district. He also looks forward to bringing the face of Grain Farmers of Ontario to local organizations and events in his area, sharing our activities and accomplishments. Elliott is active in his local community as a member of the Simcoe County milk committee, the local fair board, and the Simcoe District Co-operative. Elliott has also been involved in the Source Water Protection Committee representing agricultural interests and proposing a water protection model for others across the province.
A graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College in 1967, Elliott is the second generation on the family farm. He and his wife, Susan, enjoy the lifestyle farming provides them.
District 12 - Jeff Harrison
Jeff Harrison is the director for District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings). He farms in the rural area of the City of Quinte West which is an amalgamated municipality in between the counties of Northumberland and Hastings.
Harrison has been a delegate since the inception of Grain Farmers of Ontario, and has served as the district chairman for the past three years. He has served on the research and innovation committee for two years and the government relations committee for one.
Harrison graduated from the University of Guelph in 1995 with an Hons. Bachelor of commerce degree in agricultural business. He is passionate about agriculture and the best interests of farmers.
Harrison and his family farm 850 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat. He enjoys providing for the needs of local farmers through his custom farming and on-farm seed dealership.
When not busy on the farm, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife Janie and their four children, Michael, Rachel, Brian, and Charlie. Jeff is very proud of his farm family and gets great joy out of watching his children grow up on the farm while instilling in them his same passion for agriculture.
Lloyd Crowe is the director for District 13 (Prince Edward, Lennox, Addington, Frontenac, Lanark, Leeds, Grenville, Renfrew, Ottawa). He was elected to this position in January 2015 after serving as a delegate and district chair for five years. He is excited to lead a great group of active, young delegates and meet the challenge of representing farmers across such a large and diverse geographic region.
Crowe is the chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Wheat Marketing Committee and Wheat trading Group and serves on the Communications Committee. He also represents the organization to the Canadian Seed Growers Association and the Grain Industry Advisory Committee. Crowe previously served as president of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
Faith and family are the cornerstones of farm-life for Crowe who feels he has received many blessings. He is the 10th generation to work the family farm in Picton (Reynolds Farms Inc.) which he co-owns with his Uncle. Together they grow corn, soybeans, and wheat on several farms in Prince Edward County. They also harvest peas and lima beans for an Ingersol frozen food plant, after planting is done and into the fall.
Crowe and his wife, Dorothy, have four children and 20 grandchildren. Crowe is an active member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church community in Bloomfield and teaches a Bible study. Even though he prefers the home-life, he occasionally indulges Dorothy’s passion for travel.
District 14 - Markus Haerle
Markus Haerle, director District 14 (Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry), and in 2018 he became Chair of the Board of Directors. He has sat on the Board of Directors since 2010, and he served as Vice Chair from 2015-2018. Haerle has been involved in several committees including Wheat Marketing, Wheat Trading and Government Relations.
Haerle sees our organization as the voice of farmers; he feels Grain Farmers of Ontario is there every day to do the work that farmers don’t necessarily have the time to do themselves. Lobbying is one focus that Haerle feels very strongly about. He believes that if the government supports farmers it helps the industry as a whole. Another focus is public outreach – District 14 delegates built and run a fair and event trailer to help educate the public about grain farming and agriculture in general. Haerle believes his success as a director can be attributed to the support he receives from his district delegates and the farmer-members they represent.
Haerle and his wife, Roxane farm more than 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat near St. Isidore. They also have 20,000 laying hens and Haerle is a councillor for the Egg Farmers of Ontario. When not in the field, Haerle can be found in the farm shop as he enjoys welding and creating or altering his own farm implements and machinery.
The Haerles have four children – Sabrina, Kassandra, Mathew, and Christopher Robin. They are pleased to see the farming tradition being carried on by Mathew and Christopher who now work the farm with them.
District 15 - Chuck Amyot
Chuck Amyot was elected as the director for District 15 (Northern Ontario) in January 2017. His cash crop operation in New Liskeard includes a rotation of cereals, beans, oilseeds, and pulses. Amyot says his keen interest in agronomy and financial markets make the challenges of higher yields and crop marketing the most interesting aspect of the farm business.
Amyot attended Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Grains in Action program in 2014 which prompted him to get involved with our organization. He views his involvement with Grain Farmers of Ontario as a way to deal with the important issues related to agriculture both locally and provincially. Northern Ontarians face different challenges than their southern counterparts, such as transportation, weather, marketing, and environment. With millions of acres of potential undeveloped prime agriculture land, Amyot is committed to ensure that the North is very much a part of discussions and not forgotten.
Amyot serves on the Grain Farmers of Ontario Grain Issues Committee, Research and Innovation Committee, and Finance and Audit Committee.
Amyot is also involved with multiple local agriculture organizations, including the Temiskaming Crop Coalition and the West Nipissing East Sudbury Agricultural Support Projects.
Amyot grew up on a small farm in eastern Ontario. He moved to the North in 2011 with his wife, Vicky. When he gets away from the farm, Amyot enjoys spending time with friends and family around a bonfire, sampling Ontario craft brews, and heading out into the Northern Ontario bush to hunt and fish.