Agriculture development advisor is the new Ag Rep

Julie Poirier Mensinga

MANITOULIN – What’s in a name? Well, if you are looking for the new Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food representative replacing the now-retired Ag Rep Brian Bell, it will be a long and fruitless search—the position is now called “Agriculture Development Advisor” (ADA). But Julie Poirier Mensinga, the current acting ADA for both Algoma, Manitoulin and Sudbury West districts assures us that the support for local producers is still very much in place.

In her capacity as an ADA Ms. Poirier Mensinga works with farmers, farm organizations, municipalities and First Nations to provide research and information support.

Ms. Poirier Mensinga’s own primary background is in agricultural business management and that is the role for which she was originally hired by the ministry, but not only has she garnered considerable experience in all things agriculture, particularly in the North over the course of her career, she also has a wealth and breadth of experience available in her colleagues at OMAFRA.

“If I don’t know the answer to a question from a farmer or farm organization, I will do my best to find the answer,” she said. “As advisors, we all have our strengths.”

The acting Manitoulin ADA has a BA in Agriculture and Business from the University of Guelph and worked for the Ontario Farmers’ Association as a service representative and garnered considerable experience working as a coordinator with the Ontario Soil and Crop Association.

In her capacity as an ADA, Ms. Poirier Mensinga looks at programs that can assist farmers and she works closely with other government agencies, such as the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and non-governmental organizations to assist farmers.

In her capacity as an ADA, she keeps an eye out for opportunities for producers to adopt additional crops.

“Just driving around Manitoulin recently I noticed that there are a lot of untapped possibilities,” she said. “Every region in the North has its own challenges and strengths—and different infrastructures too.” She cited the example of having a local grain elevator. “That really makes a big difference to support for cash crop solutions.”

Ms. Poirier Mensinga also acts as the livestock evaluator in unorganized townships, assessing damages to livestock from wildlife predation. Most municipalities have their own livestock evaluator, but that role falls to her in the case of those regions without their own municipal government.

While Ms. Poirier Mensinga is based out of Verner, she notes that she is easy to contact. “I am a phone call away,” she said. “I can come out and visit when necessary.” She does try to group visits together however, as was the case when she sat down with The Expositor in our Little Current office last week.

Anyone heading to the annual International Plowing Match taking place in Verner September 17-21 can pop by the OMAFRA booth to make an acquaintance with her and her colleagues during the fair.

Ms. Poirier Mensinga has a monthly newsletter that she makes available to interested parties and she can be contacted at julie.poiriermensinga@ontario.ca or by phone at 705-594-2312. The OMAFRA website is at www.ontario.ca/omafra.