Who’s Who – Ontario – Tim Klompmaker
By Lilian SchaerFeatures Producers
Tim Klompmaker farms in Norwood, Ont., and chairs Chicken Farmers of Canada. Making a difference fuels his passion for the poultry industry.
From handfeeding chickens on his grandparents’ farm to today chairing the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), poultry have always been a key part of Tim Klompmaker’s life. His grandparents built the family’s first chicken barn in the early 1960s, and his parents took over the family farm in 1972.
It was 1984 when Klompmaker struck out on his own, buying a farm with the support of his parents and starting with his first flock of 14,000 chickens. When two neighbouring farms came on the market in the mid-1980s, he used that opportunity to expand his operation.
Today, he and his wife Annette farm in Norwood, Ont., near Peterborough with their sons, Chris and his wife Angela, Mitchell and his wife Taylor, and Cameron and his wife Emma, running their four independent farms together.
“Farming has been part of my life since day one. That’s one of the great things about supply management – it has given us the confidence in the industry to help our kids get into it as well,” Klompmaker says. “It’s stable and that’s how we were able to expand and able to prepare for our kids being able to enter the industry too.”
Looking for new opportunities
Today, their production is mostly organic, a market they decided to commit to after one of their sons started raising organic broilers. It’s a production system that is different, but not better than conventional production, he believes, and it’s the responsibility of farmers to produce to meet consumer demand, including organic. His family, however, is continually looking for new opportunities as the poultry industry grows.
That includes a strong focus on sustainability, like renewable energy – one son has completed a solar project on his farm – and planting trees to minimize barn noise, odours or dust. Animal husbandry practices are also a top priority, with the Klompmakers taking very hands-on roles in monitoring their flocks and keeping current with the latest technologies.
“Another big focus for us in how we look at things in general is maintaining family farms and supporting the evolution to the next generation,” Klompmaker says, adding that of their six grandchildren, all under four, his oldest granddaughter is already showing interest in going to the barn.
“The plans our kids are starting to layout now is in anticipation of some of their kids being interested in growing chickens too,” he says.
Love of farm politics
Alongside his passion for raising poultry has been a life-long interest in farm politics. Klompmaker remembers attending local Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) meetings with his father at a young age, where he discovered he enjoyed “being in the know about what was actually going on”.
His father became a CFO provincial director around 1990, and shortly afterwards, Klompmaker became a district committee representative, a position he held for 17 years. Today, his son Chris holds the same position. It was that local role that laid the path for making the jump to the provincial board, although it wasn’t something he originally envisioned doing.
“I had no intention of doing it; my kids were very young, and I was extremely busy at home, so the time commitment was the big reason at the time, not from not wanting to do it,” he recalls, adding he eventually got a tap on the shoulder from the provincial director in his region who was stepping down, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Becoming CFC chair
After 13 years as a CFO director, including serving on the CFO executive and representing Ontario nationally as an alternate, there was another tap on the shoulder – this time to fill a vacancy on CFC’s board as the Ontario director. That was six years ago; in 2022, Klompmaker became chair of the national organization.
“It was never my intention; it was one of those things where I kind of evolved into the (chair) role as I became more and more involved at the national level. I was always very intrigued by the trade files, the development and ongoing evolution of national programs and the allocation process,” Klompmaker says.
“When the previous chair said he was stepping down, I felt I could contribute a lot to the board and so I took it as an opportunity.”
As CFC chair, he believes strongly in collaboration and constant communication across the whole value chain to help the industry both tackle challenges and seize opportunities. Currently, avian influenza is the top-of-mind issue, but long-term, Klompmaker says CFC is focused on closely monitoring trade developments and any moves to increase international market access.
Industry future is bright
Despite the challenges, though, he believes the industry has a bright future as the meat protein with lowest carbon footprint in North America, a consumer base that views chicken as a healthy protein, and the evolution of new technologies that can make poultry production even better.
He’s proud of his involvement with the industry working group that helped negotiate a program for supply managed poultry farmers to offset market access concessions made as part of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The Poultry and Egg On-Farm Investment program will help the industry move forward to improve animal health and sustainability, he says, but the piece he’s most proud of is being able to secure a higher cost-share contribution percentage for farmers under age 35.
“This is significant because young farmers are our future and getting them involved in the industry is so important,” he says, believing it’s also key to encourage farmers to step up and take leadership roles in the poultry industry to help maintain the supply management system.
It’s a responsibility he couldn’t have taken on without the support of his family, he adds; the more than 100 days a year he spends on CFC business is a significant commitment, but one he says is easy to do when you feel like you’re contributing and making a difference.
“Every step I’ve made included long talks with my wife and her response has always been she will always support me,” Klompmaker says.
“And when I was considering the CFC chair role, my kids said to me “pretend you don’t even have barns” and now they make me sign the visitor logbook.”
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