Ontario Sheep Farmers is signing on an independent board advisor to serve as a sounding board, mediator and to help the organization deal with sector-wide issues.
Dr. Deb Stark, a former deputy minister of OMAFRA who was also the province’s first chief veterinarian, has signed onto the position.
Marc Carere, chair of the board of Ontario Sheep, said that the creative approach follows the goal of the Ontario Sheep board of directors to do things differently than they have been before.
“We recognized that there’s a lot of issues that keep coming to our industry,” he said, including animal welfare concerns.
“Someone with the calibre of Dr. Stark speaking on our behalf will help,” he said.
Stark’s role will be as needed, which could mean a few times per year, or not at all. She won’t be regularly attending board meetings, but will help when necessary, he said.
Carere says he knows of no other farm organization that has such an advisor to the board of directors.
He says the move is also to help improve governance for the organization that represents about 3000 sheep farmers in Ontario.
“If the board’s not getting something resolved, she’ll help us.”
Carere said the board started by looking at the idea of an ombudsperson, but he said that person would then be stuck between those with concerns and the board. It would be a more adversarial relationship than that of an advisor.
The Ontario Sheep release announcing the appointment of Stark says that the new advisor position will expand the Ontario Sheep Farmers’ “capacity for competent, measured, deliberations.”
Stark retired as a public servant in late 2016 and now sits on several boards of directors, including for the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute and the University of Guelph.