The Rainy River District, situated in the most southwesterly portion of Northwestern Ontario is where three ecoregions meet – the prairies to the west, the boreal forest to the north and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence forest to the south. The agricultural area of the District runs about 100 km between Lake of the Woods to the west and Rainy Lake to the East and about 35 km between the Rainy River to the south and the Precambrian shield to the north.
There were 326 census farms in the district in 2002, the vast majority being beef, mostly cow/calf, producers. There are about a dozen dairy farms and a few others raising elk, bison, hogs, honey and market garden produce. In the 2008 census we now have around 230 farms. Most farm families have at least one member earning off-farm income.
The Rainy River Federation of Agriculture (RRFA), "Farmers working for Farmers", was established in 1976. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, our parent organization, was successful in convincing the Ontario government that it was unfair that farmers were required to pay property taxes on their "means of production" and the Ontario government instituted a property tax rebate on farmland.
In 1976 the OMAF office in Emo had an Ag Rep and a full time staff of three or four people actively working with farmers to deliver education, financial and extension programs.
In 2009, the Ag Office in Emo is one of the few in the province that still has an Ag Rep. Still, most programs and specialized advise are delivered electronically from other areas of the province.
Local Municipalities now bear the cost of the property tax break for agriculture, through a 75% reduction of property taxes on farmland owned or rented by members of one of the three provincially recognized general farm organizations. The Federation of Agriculture, by far the largest general farm organization in the Rainy River District, has about 175 members.
The RRFA serves as the umbrella organization and the monthly meetings very much concern what is happening within the District with commodity and other groups, for example: Cattlemens, Soil and Crop, the Abattoir, etc. The Federation often is called upon to sponsor an intern or to help deliver a program that is being offered by OMAFRA or other organizations.
The RRFA has two general meeting per year; the Spring Gathering held in April or May and the annual meeting held in October or November. The Federation also runs the Farm Progress Building at the annual Rainy River District Agriculture Society fall fair in Emo.
We actively promote local food production and proudly support all initiatives that will improve the quality of life and livelihood for our members and all others who live in the Rainy River District.