Although often described as a quiet man who deliberately shunned the spotlight, Erle Kitchen was indeed the author of many of the policies developed under the aegis of Canada’s dairy organizations. Furthermore, he had the happy faculty of being able to convert successive ministers of agriculture to his way of thinking, and thereby exerted considerable influence in the establishment of government policies.
First and foremost a farmer and Holstein breeder, Mr. Kitchen’s executive ability became recognized after he was elected to represent the dairymen of his area (Oxford County) on the board of the Toronto Milk Producers’ Association in 1938. Six years later, while serving as vice-president of the Ontario Milk Producers’ League, he was commissioned to organize the Ontario Concentrated Milk Producers’ Association and subsequently served as its first secretary-treasurer. About the same time (1935,) he assumed the secretary-managership of the Ontario Agricultural Conference, the predecessor of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Among the many positions he filled with distinction was that of secretary-treasurer of the Dairy Farmers of Canada. In that capacity, he was largely responsible for developing and putting into operation the publicity and advertising program of the organization.
During the war years, he served as a member of the Selective Service Advisory Board, and in the years following (1946-1950,) as vice-chairman of the Agricultural Prices Support Board. In recognition of his many contributions to agriculture, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1946.