Ronald James Bonnett

Year of birth: 1952

Inducted in 2024

Origin: Algoma District

Nominated by: Algoma Federation of Agriculture

Specialty: General, Organizations

Ron Bonnett became involved in local agriculture issues shortly after moving to his farm in Bruce Mines in 1975. He was a founding board member of the Ontario Agricultural Management Institute and the founding president of the Algoma Federation of Agriculture. This began his involvement with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).  He ultimately became OFA’s president for four years while working to improve its governance by downsizing the board from 100 members to 18. During his tenure at OFA, the Walkerton water crisis developed, and Ron helped to coordinate the commodity groups to present science-based solutions including the expansion of the Environmental Farm Plan and Nutrient Management Plans. As president, he was also active in the BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis when he worked closely with the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (now Beef Farmers of Ontario) and OMAFRA to explain the checks and balances in place and ensure collaboration between industry and government. As its president, he also presided over a major restructuring of Beef Improvement Ontario, reshaping it into a self-sustaining entity and worked with the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition and the Ministry of the Environment in the development of the Nutrient Management Act, the Source Water Protection Act and the Clean Water Act. These Acts ensure that protecting water from contamination at its source is the first step of a multi barrier approach to ensure safe drinking water.

Ron was president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture from 2010-2019 where he represented issues of importance to farmers in the Senate and House of Commons. He also took a central role in addressing the needs of grain growers for sufficient and efficient rail transportation to transport their grain to buyers.

He was also the founding president and the North American representative for the World Farmers’ Organisation which required working with the United Nations, Crop Life International, and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research.

Ron’s leadership style in every agricultural organization he worked with was to seek common issues so that governments and industry groups could collectively work towards consensus. The theme that runs consistently through Ron’s leadership roles is one of collaboration, cooperation, and partnership to build relationships that ensure producers are effectively represented at all negotiating tables.

Ron Bonnett is the epitome of a motivated person who finds solutions to big issues which can be supported by the majority of stakeholders. He is most deserving as an inductee into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.