Agricultural Advisory Committee Resources
Tools are available for Agricultural Advisory Committees (AACs). In addition to an inventory of best practices, there is detailed information about how to start a successful committee. Staff are available to help, whether you are starting a committee for the first time or ensuring that an existing one is functioning as well as possible.
Starting a Successful Agricultural Advisory Committee
- Make contact with Ministry of Agriculture staff to discuss AAC formation;
- Speak to other jurisdictions with AACs about their experience;
- Identify agricultural groups in the area;
- Assign specific staff to provide on-going support and ensure the AAC functions smoothly. Many communities assign a planner and secretarial support. These staff members can help distribute information to AAC members, book meeting rooms, and record and forward minutes and decisions to the council or board;
- Develop a clear 'terms of reference', while providing a degree of flexibility so that it can meet local needs.
- View our Model Terms of Reference
- To gain the best advice on agricultural issues, at least two-thirds of the AAC members should be farmers. Appointments should represent a cross-section of commodity types that are important within the community. Where relevant, include a representative from the agricultural processing or distribution sector;
- Contact agricultural groups for advice on possible appointments and discuss the relationship that the committee will have with each group. Ideally, a broad-based agricultural group will nominate agricultural advisory committee members from its membership. If not, local agricultural groups could nominate most members and elected officials could appoint a few members;
- Discuss possible appointments with Ministry of Agriculture staff;
- Ensure that a strong, committed chairperson is available. Consider designating a member of the agricultural community as the chairperson to encourage fruitful discussion and effective decision-making;
- To establish a solid link between the AAC and the Council or Regional Board, appoint a Council or Board member to be responsible for staying updated on the AAC’s activities and reporting back to the Council or Board;
- Consider appointing a university representative involved with agricultural courses or research;
- If the agricultural area includes other major land uses such as rural residential, forestry or recreation, consider including people that represent these interests, but ensure that farmers remain the majority of the membership;
- Where there are inter-related issues and a local government has several committees, consider having joint meetings or “cross-over” committee members. For example, there is often a strong relationship between agriculture and economic development. Members could be appointed to sit on both the agricultural advisory committee and economic development committees or commissions. Other examples include environment, planning advisory, parks and recreation, transportation, or healthy community committees;
- Non-voting members could include municipal or regional district planning staff and secretarial staff, Ministry of Agriculture staff and Agricultural Land Commission staff and council or board members;
- Set term limits for appointments and indicate the number of times an individual can be renewed. Jurisdictions with few farmers may want to choose longer term limits;
- Specifically, in order to keep things fresh and build leadership capacity, consider limiting the term of office for the chairperson.
Once the Committee is Formed
- Put the best interests of agriculture forward and be a credible source of agriculture-related information for the Council or Board;
- Have patience, as it often takes time for new committees to “find their feet” and for the Council or Board to feel comfortable with its new committee. Don’t get discouraged!
- Plan meeting times with daily and seasonal farming schedules in mind. It may make sense to have less frequent meetings during planting and harvest, or evening meetings;
- Establish and follow conflict of interest guidelines so that members understand when they should leave the discussion. Where applicable, the Community Charter conflict of interest guidelines should be followed;
- Make sure the local government staff liaison contacts members regularly, especially when meetings are infrequent (e.g. through monthly email updates);
- Encourage the AAC to tackle day-to-day issues as well as broader initiatives. Note: If the AAC is an official Advisory Planning Committee under section 898 of the Local Government Act, the AAC's activities need to be outlined in a bylaw. Any additional activities need to be directed by the Council or Board;
- Maintain a clear, effective relationship between the AAC and Council or Regional Board and provide frequent updates on AAC activities. When possible, connect with Council or Regional Board members informally through lunches and other social engagements;
- For other key committees or commissions, appoint an AAC member to act as liaison;
- Connect with the farm community beyond AAC members.
Additional Ways to Link to the Farm Community
- Appoint farm representatives to advisory planning commissions and other committees
- Seek the advice of farmers’ institutes and commodity groups
- Maintain contact with staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Land Commission
- Appoint a Council or Board member as the farm/ranch liaison
- Designate a specific staff person to focus on agricultural issues
- Coordinate farm tours and on-farm workshops for local government staff, politicians and/or the public