News

OFA convention a time to celebrate successes and push forward (2013)

By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Each year, delegates and guests of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) gather for the organization’s annual general meeting and convention. The convention provides an ideal opportunity for OFA to work directly with grassroots members from across Ontario, addressing issues and discussing where the organization will direct its focus in the months to come.

OFA also has the unique opportunity to showcase some key successes from the past year. Among them is the legislature’s adoption of the Local Food Act for Ontario, which speaks to the importance of agriculture to Ontario’s provincial government. Although it is not perfect the act showcases our Ontario food and moves us towards improved food literacy and access. OFA has also been successful in working with the agri-business community through the Open for Business process to achieve wins such as tax classification changes for grain elevators. We have also recently seen progress on items such as the spring bear hunt pilot project.

As Ontario’s largest general farm organization that lobbies government on key issues for Ontario farm families, OFA is pleased with the positive working relationship we have fostered with our elected representatives. This year our grassroots members will hear from Ontario’s Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food, Kathleen Wynne, as she is the opening speaker at convention. We are equally pleased with our positive working relationships with other political leaders who will have speaking roles at convention, including PC Leader Tim Hudak, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, as well as the agriculture critics and Parliamentary Assistant to Premier Wynne.

In our effort to make the economic case for the importance of government investment in agriculture, OFA recently released The Economic Contribution of the Ontario Farm Sector, by JRG Consulting Group. The study, commissioned by OFA, speaks to the economic impact of agriculture and agri-food businesses to Ontario’s overall economy.  The results will go a long way in arming our members with concrete data to present to MPPs and other key decision-makers. We will use the information in the report to push for investments in Ontario’s agri-food sector, including our current lobby initiative to see natural gas pipelines expanded throughout rural Ontario.

Despite the good news stories in our sector, there is still much work to be done. Last week, Leamington, Ontario was rocked by the news that its economic mainstay, Heinz, will close its doors in 2014. That devastating news will translate to an employment deficit of 740 employees, dozens of local farmers and thousands of seasonal workers. There is more to be done to ensure Ontario has a business climate that is attractive for agri-businesses to invest and thrive in Ontario’s economic climate.

OFA’s annual convention also brings annual elections for the organization’s leadership for the coming year. OFA members will hear the ideas and visions from prospective leaders. For members who are unable to attend convention on November 25 and 26, 2013 in Toronto, they can participate through the live weblink on OFA’s website, www.ofa.on.ca.

For more information contact:

Mark Wales
President
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-773-6706

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883



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