The Hon. Ralph Ferguson
Ferguson, an early advocate of marketing boards and supply management
The Hon. Ralph H. Ferguson was born Sept. 13. 1929 in Mosa Township and moved to a farm in Enniskillen Township as a
boy. As a young man he moved to Brooke Township where he continues to reside today. He was a charter member of the Lambton County Pork Producers and was the founding president of both the Lambton County Junior Farmers and the Lambton County Egg Producers.
For many years, he was also an active committee member on the boards of the Lambton Wheat Producers, White Bean and Soybean Producers’ Associations and was Lambton County’s delegate to the Ontario Egg Board.
A long-time advocate of supply
management and orderly marketing, in the late 1950s Ferguson lobbied for the creation of the Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board, and in the 1960s, the formation of the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board, believing that both would have a positive
impact on Lambton’s agricultural community. In the 1970s he was appointed a charter member of the Farm Products Marketing Council.
He was also a long-time member and past president of the Brooke-Alvinston Agricultural Society.
a visionary and often ahead of his time, in the 1970s Ferguson was instrumental in establishing a pilot ethanol research facility in Brooke Township and lobbied the Federal Government to waive the excise tax on fuel alcohol, both measures that helped pave
the way for today’s burgeoning ethanol industry.
An avid conservationist with a special interest in woodlot management, Ferguson was the 2004 recipient of the Conservation Farm Award from the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, recognizing
his early efforts at wildlife conservation and woodlot sustainability.
A true innovator, he was an early adapter to liquid fertilizer for field and sweet corn and modified his corn planter for liquid application which enabled him to plant Green Giant
sweet corn in the Lambton/Middlesex County area.
During his tenure as MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and federal Minister of Agriculture and Food, he wrote many policy papers on agriculture that eventually formed the basis of government agricultural
However, he is probably best known for his “Compare the Share” document, a study published in 1990 that essentially compared the prices received at the farm gate, at the processors level, and at retail, illustrating the comparatively
low share of margin that accrued to farmers.
The work was later updated by St. Peter’s College in Muenster, Sask. and is still referred to today. During his time as Minister of Agriculture and Food, Ferguson welcomed many high-level Canadian
and International officials to his home County of Lambton.
After retiring from politics he returned to his Brooke-Alvinston farm where he has remained active in many community projects, chief among them, was a study of cancer rates in rural Lambton
As Jack Johnson, a North Middlesex farmer and long-time friend of Ferguson noted. “Ralph will always be remembered for his support of organized marketing, fair trade, his tireless interest in people, and his desire to leave behind a better
world than he received.”