TORONTO – The various segments of the agriculture sector annually take time to look back at the year that was, project the future, and recognize excellence within their industry. Dairy is no exception. During a celebration at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel held earlier this year, Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s (DFO) Board recognized producer commitment to the production of high-quality milk and industry leadership at its DFO Recognition Dinner. The event also celebrated Board Chair, Murray Sherk, for his 12 years on DFO’s Board, as he steps into retirement.

It was also appropriate at an event such as this to recognize outgoing Chair Murray Sherk. “For 12 years I have been incredibly proud to be part of the dairy industry as a Board member at DFO and represent Ontario dairy producers, who demonstrate the passion and commitment it takes to be best-in-class,” said Sherk. “Our Quality Award Winners and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient are true examples of what it means to be a leader in our industry.”

Mark Hamel, board member for Region 11 will replace Sherk as Board Chair. Roger Boersen, board member for Region 10 was elected as vice-chair; and Don Gordon, board member for Region 5, was elected as second vice-chair. Pete Overdevest joins the board, and begins his term as board member for Region 8, replacing Sherk in that capacity.

Arlene Minott was re-appointed as corporate secretary and Rey Moisan was re-appointed as treasurer to the board.

During the event, five Ontario dairy producers with the best quality scores were recognized for their outstanding commitment to quality. The five producers, who were located in different parts of the province were:

  • Zethill Farms Ltd. (Bruce), Russell and Joyce Zettler and Joel and Alisha Zettler
  • Sunnyfield Holsteins (Durham), Brent, Susanne and Cal Snoddon
  • Campbell Farms (Brant), Donald and Laurie Campbell
  • Slits Dairy Farms Ltd. No.2 (Perth), Pedro and Jolanda Slits and Maik and Bianca Schapendonk
  • Oasis Acres Ltd. (Middlesex), Albert and Suzanna Westerhof

The awarding of a lifetime achievement award typically speaks to high performance over a prolonged period. This year the annual DFO Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Donald (Don) Johnston, who runs Cherry Crest Holsteins in Martintown, Ontario. Don is an active volunteer in his community and has served three terms on DFO’s Glengarry Dairy Producer Committee. He is recognized for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to the betterment of Ontario’s dairy industry and has made outstanding contributions to the dairy community.

It wouldn’t be an AGM unless some time was spent looking at numbers and as DFO released its 2023 Annual Report, it demonstrated a continued focus on supporting a dynamic, profitable and growing dairy sector.

“DFO provides leadership in the production and marketing of high-quality Canadian milk,” said Cheryl Smith, Chief Executive Officer, DFO. “It is a pleasure to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of these exceptional leaders. We are all committed to supporting a strong Canadian dairy system for a thriving dairy industry.”