In 1943, there were 3834 members in 56 local clubs and 27 county associations. Within the first 5 years of the formation of the Provincial Association, membership soared to nearly 10,000. In 1974, there were 7045 members in 125 local Clubs and 47 County Associations. Through the 1980s and 1990s a number of factors (including the absolute loss of public funding and staff support) led to a steady decline in membership. The unfaltering dedication of some key members and alumni helped stabilize and reshape the organization. The last few years have indicated growth once again with several clubs that had folded or come close to it, being revitalized.
Originally, no provincial age limits were set but were generally considered to be 16 and 29. Problems arose with the athletic competitions which made it necessary to establish a maximum age of 29 for certain events.
All members of JF clubs are required to have a provincial membership in order to allow full access to all JFAO opportunities and maintain the standards of the program, as well as provide insurance and member discounts.
The annual provincial membership fee was first established at 10 cents. This changed to 25 cents in 1950 and rose to $3 in 1974. The constitution no longer states a set fee as this is frequently subject to change. In 2005 membership fees climbed for the first time in several years to $25 for new members and $30 for returning members during Membership Month, which is January. Returning members who register late were charged $40, but new members could register for $25 at any point during the year.
Until 1956, membership fees were due at the time of the Annual Meeting. During that year, several guidelines were introduced which are still followed today. Membership cards were issued; a membership deadline of May 1st was established (now January 31st); and the maximum age of 29 was put in place.
In 2017, there are approximately 350 members in 22 active clubs and continuing to grow again.
Additional information on JFAO’s past may be found in Biesenthal, Linda, “A Rural Legacy. The History of the Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario,” 1981