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


Susan says on June 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM

RMP - needs to be overhauled! It's similar to the old "Market Revenue" program except farmers didn't have to pay premiums AND it was not clawed back from our NISA revenue. Now we pay premiums and unlike crop insurance, which is also premium driven, any RMP revenue received is clawed back from any potential provincial AgriStability payout. When I asked Agricorp about the purpose of RMP, I was told it was "considered an advance on the provincial AgriStability"...that's some pretty hefty interest rates. Agricorp also confirmed that yes, it is quite likely that we could end up on the negative end after the RMP premiums are factored in. GOOD PROGRAM! My Quetion is "Why is RMP tied to AgriStability at all? RMP is supposed to protect farmer from fluctuations in price in comparison to cost of production...but is not specific to individual farms. One farm could hit the market at the right time for contract pricing and get top dollar for their crop, while his neighbour is not so lucky, yet they both get the same compensation. Also large farms benefit from volume discounts which reduces their cost of production. Soooo in the end the guy who doesn't do so well with his pricing and has higher COP may end up with an AgriStability payout and lose his RMP (that he paid premiums for) and the big farm that did much better gets to keep his RMP because he didn't trigger an AgriStability payout. There is definitely something wrong with this picture! I am beginning to think the government is not really there to help us, but only to put on a show of sorts by hiring mathematicians to create the most complex calculations for a whole "suite" of programs in the hope that all us farmers are too stupid to figure out we're being taken advantage of (to put it politely).

Lorna Sutherland says on May 2, 2013 at 10:18 AM

The title of your article indicated an interest in the health of our produced food, but when I glance through the article it seems to be about the financial end of farming! That is important to be sure, for our survival. BUT the population wants to hear about things like GMO crops, antibiotics and hormones in the meat animals... very important!! See how important by noting the huge numbers of people with food sensitivities, autism and immune system deficiencies or overloads, and even obesity! They probably points to lack of nutrients (micro?) in our foods. I'd like the government to encourage buying Canadian-produced foods so that we know - and can feel secure that the foods we buy at the supermarket are produced under the existing Canadian laws -and also tighten up those laws... even if it means we pay more for our food! The farmers need protection !

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