Connecting with cabinet is first order of business (2014)

By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Premier Kathleen Wynne has named her new cabinet, and in her words is, “ready to get back to work.” There are familiar faces, new additions and revamped ministries. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) looks forward to getting back to business, advocating for issues that impact the business of farming in Ontario and our ability to continue “Growing Ontario”.

Ontario agriculture is big and complex, and continues to offer huge growth potential for the entire province. Our sector cuts a wide swath across multiple government ministries. And we’ve put together clear priorities to connect with cabinet and their staff to reintroduce and reinforce what’s important for Ontario’s dynamic agri-food sector.  

We welcome the return of an integrated ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, led by Jeff Leal. Premier Wynne’s stint as Minister of Agriculture and Food helped boost the profile of the agri-food sector, and we’ll continue to push the potential with Minister Leal. We look forward to working closely with him to help champion our issues with other ministries, particularly Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

The Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure ministry, led by Brad Duguid, is very important to the agri-food sector’s plans to continue growing Ontario’s economy. Expanding natural gas and rural infrastructure are high priorities for OFA with Minister Duguid, to improve overall competitiveness for Ontario agriculture.

Food literacy will be on our agenda when we talk with the new Minister of Health, Dr. Eric Hoskins and returning Education Minister Liz Sandals. The OFA believes educating consumers about healthy food choices – many of which are local – and food preparation are important ingredients in a healthier population.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ted McMeekin, is no stranger to agriculture as a former Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. His ministry overseas land use in areas covered under the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges and Niagara Escarpment Plans, and the OFA will work with Minister McMeekin to ensure farming and food businesses are enabled and sustainable in these areas. This ministry also holds some influence in reviewing farmland property taxation to ensure fair taxation for farmland and adequate funding for municipalities.

Farming runs on research, and Reza Moridi is the new minister for the revamped Research and Innovation portfolio. We look forward to working with Minister Moridi to ensure sound agricultural research programs are in place to enable Ontario farmers to deal with changing climates, changing consumer preferences and the need for continued gains in productivity.

We’ll also be connecting with Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca to be sure modern transportation doesn’t usurp good farmland, and Bill Mauro in the Ministry of Natural Resources on wildlife damage and species at risk.

The new majority government brings new opportunities to advocate for changes that will enable farmers to continue Growing Ontario. Our agri-food sector is big. And the OFA’s advocacy work stretches across and between many ministries. There is lots of work ahead, and we’re energized and anxious to get back at it. 

For more information, contact:

Mark Wales
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture


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