Agriculture needs access to affordable energy (2014)

By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Modern farms run on energy. It’s one of the most expensive input costs for Ontario farmers. That’s why it’s a key election issue for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) in the lead up to the June 12 provincial election. We’re focusing on four key issues with candidates over the next few weeks, and the need for competitively priced energy is second in our series of election commentaries.

Rising energy costs hurt the overall competitiveness and profitability for Ontario farms and rural businesses. We’re asking provincial candidates to commit to expanding natural gas infrastructure to deliver natural gas into more rural areas, and ensure affordable and competitive rates for electricity. Access to affordable energy will fuel further growth and opportunities in our rural economy.

When it comes to natural gas, we’re proposing a multi-year project to expand the natural gas pipeline network across rural Ontario to help farmers reduce operating costs like heating barns and greenhouses, running grain dryers and heating hot water tanks.

Access to natural gas is a serious game changer for farmers, businesses and rural Ontario residents. At half the cost of electricity and one third the cost of propane, more widespread access to low-cost natural gas is the single best investment Ontario can make in its rural economy, and provide added incentives to attract new food processing, manufacturing and service firms to rural Ontario.

We simply can’t grow our economy without more widespread access to natural gas. It is estimated that a fully expanded natural gas system across rural Ontario would free up more than $1 billion per year of new disposable income for rural Ontarians to invest in and build our rural economy.

Farmers and rural businesses also have a heavy reliance on electricity, and we must have more affordable, competitive rates. Ontario now has among the highest electricity rates across all other North American jurisdictions. It’s just not sustainable for farming. And it’s not sustainable for the Ontario processing industry that purchases most of our products. We are calling on the government to find ways to deliver affordable electricity rates for farms and industry to keep us all competitive.

It doesn’t really matter where you live or work, we all rely on energy. For Ontario farmers, we know energy is a cost of business but it shouldn’t cost us our business. We need our politicians to know that competitively priced energy is a must have for rural Ontario.

For more information about competitively priced energy for rural Ontario, and all OFA election issues, visit our provincial election site at

For more information, contact:

Mark Wales
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture


Ron Jordan says on May 23, 2014 at 7:57 PM

Mark Wales has succinctly indicated so well the needs of the rural farmer and the community it forms. Electricity and Natural Gas are the two most important areas for our politicians to address as to how it is a prime necessity for the agriculture and farming industry of Ontario. We must have access to Natural Gas and cheaper Electricity if we are going to continue producing agriculture products for the masses in the cities at reasonable costs.

Dustin French says on May 23, 2014 at 10:49 PM

By increasing our dependency on natural gas we are implying that it is worth the hazards that come with natural gas and the methods we use to extract the gas. Fracking. Video of a residents contaminated flammable water caused by fracking. That is not any new news. There are many incidences, and what has been implied would not only contributing to the contamination of water, but approve such actions/methods. Emitting less C02 than coal however, Methane is also the primary gas in natural gas, which is an especially powerful greenhouse gas. Not only is it leaked into the air due to the modern natural gas systems. The comparison of the effects of Methane to C02 in our atmosphere has are claimed, from scientists, to be "...roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas." It is actually quite shocking that the OFA is suggesting running pipelines through Ontario onto farmlands of all places. Pipelines are faulty and are known to leak, causing major contamination problems. With the way societies ideologies are becoming more environmentally conscious, why not propose we open up the conversation of selling are abundant amount of electricity(that we are paying quebec to have), or/and propose to the government that biofuels are the future? Biofuels such as miscanthus, or switch grass? The future of corn ethanol was evidently going to expire due considering it takes away from other markets(human consumption, animal feed stock, ect) and, the fact is, it is not that viable as an ethanol source in comparison to other plants. "If" we ventured into biofuel gas plants, that run off of plants such as switch grass or miscanthus, we would be introducing a brand new market for farmers, new and old, to partake in. A market that would ultimately decrease the emissions we have, when it comes to creating electricity, and the vast potential of reducing the cost of electricity.

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