Agricultural Hall of Fame

Ralph H. D. Ferguson

2013 Inductee

Ralph H.D. Ferguson
Ralph H.D. Ferguson

Biography

Ralph Ferguson, an agricultural activist, was born in Mosa Township. He was MP for the federal riding of Lambton-Middlesex from 1980-1984 and again from 1988 until his retirement in 1993. 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 policy.

He was appointed parliamentary secretary to two different ministries, appointed Minister of Agriculture and in opposition served as Agriculture Critic and Assistant Critic for International Trade. During his time as Minister of Agriculture and Food, Ferguson welcomed many high-level Canadian and International officials to his home in Lambton.

Ralph is probably most noted for his ”Compare the Share” report which documented the farm gate price, the wholesale price and the retail price of each of the commodity groups. This study  illustrated the comparatively low share of margin that accrued to farmers.

After retiring from politics he returned to his Brooke-Alvinston farm where he has remained active in many community projects, including a study of cancer rates in rural Lambton County.

Ralph Ferguson could always be counted on for his sound and practical advice. He was 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. He believed 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.

Always 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.

In 1977 Ferguson was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal his  for work in agriculture and community development. An avid conservationist with a special interest in woodlot management, he 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.

Community Contributions

  • Founding President of Brooke Township Junior Farmers
  • Active Lambton 4-H parent
  • Founding committeeman of Lambton Pork Producers Association
  • Committeeman on Lambton Wheat, White Bean & Soybean Producers Association
  • Lambton delegate to Ontario Egg Board
  • Lobbied for creation of Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board & Egg Producers Marketing Board
  • President of Brooke-Alvinston Agricultural Society
  • Board of Directors for McNeil Feed & Grain Limited
  • Member of the Watford High School Board of Education
  • Rotary member in Alvinston
  • Member of St Andrews Society
  • Alvinston Robbie Burns evening committee