Dufferin Federation of Agriculture

What your MP needs to know to help agriculture continue growing forward (2012)

By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

The federal and provincial governments are finalizing the details for Growing Forward 2 – the five-year policy plan for Canadian agriculture. The federal and provincial agriculture ministers are expected to sign off on the new agreement this fall. The agreement’s contents will determine the future for agricultural programs for the next five years, including the programs currently know as the agri- suite of programs - AgriStability, AgriInvest, AgriRecovery and AgriInsurance

The advent of a new policy framework is an opportunity for Canadian farmers to communicate with our elected officials about the aspects of Growing Forward 1 that worked well. The non risk management programs proved to be very popular with Ontario farmers. We repeatedly saw the Environmental Farm Plan program over-subscribed – an issue we want to address this time around. It is also an opportunity to address the gaps for a stronger, more cohesive approach to agricultural programming moving forward. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) joins with our counterparts across the country calling on Canadian farmers to meet with their Member of Parliament to tell them what farmers really need in the next round of agricultural programming.

Under past frameworks, business risk management programs have been demand driven. Program design and participation have determined the amount of federal funding farmers from any one province receive. This resulted in even minor program design changes becoming a potential federal/provincial funding issue. OFA believes flexibility would address this problem. In recent meetings with Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, OFA representatives communicated three main messages.

First, farmers require bankable farm income programs that provide real ways to manage market risks. That means federal business risk management funding should be added back to the suite of programs, allowing farmers some shelter against highly volatile market conditions.

Second, we need flexible funding agreements, allocated to the provinces using a formula based on gross farm market receipts, such as the equation previously called the Fredericton Formula. Flexibility would allow provinces to use their provincial funding and the federal allocated funding towards the national suite of business risk management programs, or other business risk management priorities.

Finally, OFA seeks adequately funded cost-shared programs for environmental and other stewardship initiatives. Such funding would give farmers the tools and resources they need to continue to preserve farmland for future generations.

Before the ministers sign off on Growing Forward 2, let’s help them understand what will really keep farmers viable in the next five years, and beyond. Because Ontario farmers know best what will keep us growing forward.

For more information contact:

Mark Wales
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture