WHO WE ARE AND OUR INDUSTRY
Alpaca Ontario was founded in October 2001 by a group of founding members. The objects of the corporation included:
- To maintain and improve the standards of the alpaca industry in Ontario as a whole and to promote public awareness of the alpaca and related fibre industry.
- To encourage the breeding and showing of alpacas (and particularly the sponsorship of an annual exhibition and alpaca show).
- To educate the members of the Corporation and the public on the care and breeding of alpaca and production of alpaca fibre.
- To encourage and foster the highest quality alpaca husbandry and breeding practices in Ontario generally, including the adoption of alpaca husbandry standards.
- To co-operate and liaise with organizations throughout North America and elsewhere having similar interests to those of the Corporation.
An important part of the strategic planning process was to conduct research to better understand who our membership is, what type of farming they do, and what they feel will contribute most to their success in the future.
Alpaca Ontario membership has declined 30% from 2014 to 2017, with the most dramatic decline (26%) happening from 2015 to 2017. Similarly the Canadian Llama and Alpaca Association has experienced a decline in Ontario membership from2015 onward, however, their membership began to increase again by 39% from 2016 to 2017. Despite this, Alpaca Ontario membership numbers have outstripped the CLAA Ontario membership numbers each year. The Census of Agriculture tells us that Alpaca Ontario is attracting only 10% of commercial alpaca/llama farms as members, demonstrating significant potential for membership growth.
Central Ontario: Over the past 4 years this region has been an area of growth of membership for AO, but is now experiencing decline, both according to AO membership stats and Census of Agriculture data. This could be linked to rising real estate prices. Prince Edward County is an area of growth. This could be linked to the growing resettlement trend that includes urbanites moving to the area and starting hobby farms and farm shops.
Eastern Ontario: This region has experienced significant decline in membership in AO and a significant decrease in producers according to the Census of Agriculture. We see no increase in membership in any county. We need to ask the question – do members in Eastern Ontario benefit from membership as there is little retention and significant distance to AO events.
Western Ontario: This region has always been a stronghold for AO membership. 26% of AO’s membership originated in Western Ontario in 2014. In 2017 this region is 20% of total membership. In 2016 it represented 34% of farms in Ontario. Membership has dropped 43% in this region from 2014 to 2017. The issue of retention needs to be addressed.
Southern Ontario: This is the only stable region for AO membership in Ontario. At 27% of total AO membership, this region is AO’s largest member base. The strength of this region should be fostered. The Census of Agriculture tells us that this area is in slight decline and a higher percentage of farms are represented by AO membership than in other regions of Ontario. So potential for growth may be more limited, but stewardship of members is critical.
Northern Ontario: This is the only region that has shown consistent growth in membership from both AO membership data and Census of Agriculture data. Membership here has almost doubled over 3 years, though the overall herd has not grown significantly. An effort should be made to steward this growth.
Out of Province Membership: These memberships have dropped significantly (more than 50%) from 2014 to 2017. In 2014 out of province memberships represented 17% of AO memberships. In 2017 they sit at 11% of total memberships.
Huacayas continue to be the predominant species raised by members with 70-87% of members reporting this as their only species on farm. Over the years only 1 farm has reported raising suri only. And between 7 and 12% report raising both huacaya and suri on their farm with this number jumping 12% from 2016 to 2017.
Members reported a total number of alpacas in excess of 2000 alpacas, including out of province membership. But the OMAFRA Census of Agriculture data tells us that the commercial herd size (llamas and alpacas) grew significantly (45%) from 2006 to 2011, but declined 10% from 2011 to 2016. Though there are some areas of herd growth in Central Ontario, the region’s livestock numbers have declined overall. With the exception of Frontenac County, Eastern Ontario’s herd is in decline, though it does represent over 1/3 of Ontario’s herd. Western Ontario’s herd is steadily growing and represents 31% of Ontario’s herd. Southern Ontario has mixed growth and decline in the region, but Niagara County represents Ontario’s largest herd numbers and significant growth. Northern Ontario represents only 7% of Ontario’s herd but has experienced steady growth.
Geographic Location: A further survey of our members in 2018 revealed that we have a strong presence in Eastern Ontario (34% of respondents), followed by South/Central Ontario (28%), Northern Ontario (21%) and Western Ontario (17%). Members can also be found in Quebec and other provinces.
Farm Size: Most (40%) of our members have 10-30 alpacas, followed by 23% who have 50-100 alpacas. The remainder of farms range from under 10 alpacas to over 100.
Farm Members: Our member farms have a range of experience, with 40%having over 10 years experience, another 40%have 5-10 years experience, and our smallest co-hort (20%) are newcomers at under 5 years of farming. 40%of our members have been AO members for 5-10 years. Another 23% have been members over 10 years, with a similar number under 5 years.
Members’ Business Structure: Most of our members (87%) are operating as Farm Businesses with Farm Business Registration Numbers. Again, most of our members consider themselves to be Farm Businesses (67%) or Hobby Farms (17%). Another 13%are working toward being a Farm, and 13% are industry supporters.
Member Farm Activities: Members participate in diverse farm activities:
|ACTIVITY||% OF MEMBERS|
A thriving, sustainable and profitable alpaca industry in Ontario and throughout Canada with global recognition for Ontario alpaca genetics & fibre.
Alpaca Ontario represents the collective interests of members; promoting awareness of the alpaca industry, developing the fibre value chain, offering education for its members, promoting highest quality alpaca husbandry & breeding practices and networking amongst members.
- Alpaca Ontario has a strong, functional Board of Directors.
- Alpaca Ontario is financially sustainable.
- Alpaca farming in Ontario is profitable.
- Alpaca Ontario is seen as a thought and communication leader in the alpaca industry.
- Professionalism, visibility, credibility
- Responsive to membership
- Representative, inclusive, welcoming
- Work collaboratively and cooperatively.
- We represent all alpaca producers, from hobbyists to commercial producers.
ALPACA ONTARIO STAKEHOLDERS:
Who do we work with and serve to achieve our Vision and meet our Mission?
- Processors: Mills
- Fibre Arts Community: Spinners, Weavers, Knitters, Crocheters, Needle Felters, Fibre Artists, Designers
- Consumers: those who buy and wear the products
- Retailers/Brokers: of alpacas, stud services, fibre, value-added products
- Media: CQ, etc
- Feed Companies
- Equipment Suppliers
- Transportation Providers
- Laboratories: FibreTesting, BVD & other medical testing
- Show: Vendors, Judges, Venues
- Marketing: agri-tourism providers, events, communication specialists, social media community
- Software Companies / Websites: Assist Expo, Alpaca Ease, Open Herd
- Associations: Alpaca Canada, AOA, OFA, CFFO, NFU, FibreShed, Wool Growers, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
- Government: Municipal Ec Dev, Ag Advisory Committees, OMAFRA, Ag Canada
- Academic Institutions:
- Agriculture: University of Guelph, Olds College, McGill, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, Dalhousie, University of Manitoba, University of Lethbridge, Universite Laval
- Veterinarian: Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph), Atlantic Veterinary College (UPEI), Universite de Montreal, Western College of Veterinarian Medicine (University of Saskatchewan), University of Calgary
- Fibre Arts / Design: Haliburton School of Art & Design, Ryerson School of Fashion, Olds College, Sheridan College, George Brown College, Lasalle College InternationalENVIRONMENTAL SCAN:
|Quality of Canadian herd||Self protectionism|
|Vet on our Board of Directors||No Board Manual or orientation of Members|
|Education program||Financial position|
|Youth on Board of Directors||Declining membership|
|Annual Show with profit||Poor website functionality|
|Website presence||Volunteer burnout|
|Members are largely businesses, not hobbyists||No clear job descriptions or adherence to them|
|Broad representation on board||Competition vs cooperation|
|Fibre Initiative Committee (art, education)||Lack of structured regional representation|
|Certified classers, instructors, shearers, mills with fibre expertise|
|Sustainability of alpaca farming||AO & AC not recognized on world stage|
|Expand national clip||Restrictive U.S. Border for alpacas|
|Forging relationship with other fibre industries||Misunderstanding of sustainable husbandry practices|
|Member education||Lack of reliable internet & other infrastructure|
|Branding||Lack of large animal vets|
|Meat||Lack of shearers|
|Alpacas are on trend||Lack of milling infrastructure|
|Strengthen the value proposition of AO (on par with US organizations)||Lack of commercial industry|
|Create awareness of importance of fibre classing & good harvesting (shearing) practices||Lack of Code of Practice|
|Facilitate members becoming leaders in the development of quality alpaca products|
These are issues that, if not addressed, could compromise the future of Alpaca Ontario.
- Website improvements & functionality
- Awareness of Alpaca Ontario
- Awareness & promotion of alpaca industry in Ontario
- Value Chain development and awareness
- Business development / education
- Financial planning
- Policy development
- Respectful conduct
- Show standards / rules
- Large animal veterinarians with camelid experience
- Fibre classers and sorters
SEE ATTACHED ACTION PLAN
Approved by Board of Directors: DATE