By Sheila Phibbs
The Haldimand Press Staff
The Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association (CAHFA) honours and celebrates the outstanding contributions of Canadians to the agriculture and food industry. Among this year’s four inductees is Douglas Hedley, whose roots are right here in Haldimand County.
Hedley is the son of Walker and Grace Hedley and grew up in East Seneca with his sister, Donna, and brother, Graeme. Purebred Shorthorn cattle and purebred Yorkshire pigs were raised on the family farm. Hedley showed cattle and hogs at the local fairs, including Caledonia and Binbrook. He also competed in the Queen’s Guineas event at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for several years. During his youth, he was a member of 4-H and Junior Farmers in Haldimand, participating in several clubs as well as being awarded the New York-Washington DC Tour and Montreal-Quebec City Tour.
Following graduation from Caledonia High School, Hedley attended the Ontario Agriculture College at the University of Guelph where he majored in Agricultural Economics and Business Administration. He later earned a Masters and then PhD in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University.
Hedley had a distinguished public service career with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. From 2001 to 2004 he was the Assistant Deputy Minister, Farm Financial Programs. He played a central role in Agriculture and Agri-food Canada throughout the development of farm income stabilization and risk management programs. He also worked closely with the provinces and industry groups to develop the Agricultural Policy Framework.
Hedley has also worked on the international stage, including farm and experimental farm research, agricultural economic development, and teaching of post-graduate level training in economics. He has served on the executive of the International Association of Agricultural Economist (IAAE) and was the founding editor of Agricultural Economics, The Journal of the IAAE.
After leaving government, Hedley was the Executive Director of the Canadian Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, now known as the Deans Council AFVM, which includes Faculties of Agriculture (eight) and Veterinary Medicine (five) from across Canada.
In recent years, he has continued to work on farm income, trade, and food issues in Canada and the United States, has provided training on governance issues in China and Canada, and explored farm marketing and processing approaches within Canada and North America.
It was the Deans Council that forwarded the nomination for induction to the Hall of Fame, unbeknownst to Hedley.
He says, “I was completely unaware of the nomination until I was informed by phone that the Hall of Fame had accepted the nomination. I am slowly becoming aware that several others supported the nomination.”
In the announcement of this year’s inductees, Trish Jordan, President of the CAHFA said, “The quality and achievements of all the individuals nominated … was as impressive as ever and truly highlights why Canadian agriculture continues to leave its mark across our country and around the globe. This year’s four inductees … are recognized for their leadership, influence, and innovative ideas that have significantly improved Canadian agriculture. We are honoured to welcome them to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.”
Due to COVID-19, the induction ceremony for this year’s Hall of Fame recipients will take place at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in 2021. Reflecting on his life’s work in agriculture, Hedley admits that he’s “not sure” what motivated him to choose that career path but he adds, “Seemed like the right thing to do at the time!” It would seem that his many colleagues and associates from over the years, and the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame, definitely agree.