Peter loves a challenge. Whether in the barn or while he was representing the dairy industry he was always prepared to face whatever came his way.
Peter was born in northern Holland during the Great Depression. His parents owned a dairy farm. His school years were during the German occupation of Holland. In 1952 Peter and his parents immigrated to Canada and purchased a mixed farm in Kent County near Ridgetown. They shipped cream. In 1960, his parents, brother Jake and Peter purchased a dairy farm in Dunnville. It was not all work and no play for Peter. In 1961 he married the love of his life, Nellie. It all began when Peter’s brother married Nellie’s cousin. Peter was the best man and Nellie was the maid of honor. Peter and Nellie began dating after the wedding and that is how their story began. They have 4 children – Fred, Marsha, Cheryl and Peter. They also have 13 grandchildren.
In 1979, Peter’s parents retired. Peter and Nellie moved on to purchase their own dairy farm in Beamsville. They became members of the Canadian Reformed Church in Smithville. Somehow through it all, Peter became involved with local organizations. He joined the Haldimand Soil and Crop but his true interest and passion was the dairy industry. In 1970 he joined the Haldimand Dairy Producers. And that was the beginning of a 29 year love affair that included meetings, travel, rallies, lobbying and confrontation. After milking cows in the morning, Peter could be seen racing to a meeting after showering with his tie and shoes untied. In 1975, Peter became a director on the Ontario Dairy Producers. He held the position of Vice Chair from 1991-99. These were challenging times and Peter saw the need to do more for industry.
In 1980 he joined Dairy Farmers of Canada as the representative for Ontario. He became Vice Chair in 1988 and from 1993-95 he held the position of Chair. This was a serious position, during challenging times. While with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Peter travelled province wide, lobbying, going to meetings and building a respected reputation. Things changed when he joined the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Peter attended meetings and conferences around the world. Sometimes Nellie was able to join him when he was travelling. Peter and Nellie attended many family farm organization conferences across the world promoting the importance of the family farm. Peter attended the International Dairy Federation conferences which provided an opportunity to network, exchange research information and lobby on behalf of Canadian dairy producers. Peter was heavily involved in the world trade negotiations in Vienna. There was a lot to gain, and even more to lose if the dairy industry was not well represented. Luckily Peter was up for the challenges in the political ring. Peter represented Canadian dairy farmers on the Canadian Agriculture Research Council and the Canadian Milk Supply Management committee.
In 1992 he was invited to serve on an advisory committee for the writing of the 40 year history of the Canadian Dairy Commission. You may ask who took care of the family when Peter was not home to help and how does one own and operate a dairy farm when they are flying all over the world attending meetings and conferences. The whole family was very supportive in Peter’s decision to become actively involved in the industry. Nellie lovingly took care of the family and in 1982, Fred graduated from Ridgetown College and came home to farm full time with his parents. Fred and his wife now own and operate the farm. Peter now retired, still goes to the Farm every day to help Fred as Fred used to help him.