OFA takes top member concerns to politicians (2015)

By Debra Pretty-Straathof, Board Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

New energy comes in the spring, and with it, a renewed sense of advocacy from Canada’s largest general farm organization – the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). The OFA has had a busy schedule this spring, meeting with MPs and MPPs, making recommendations on issues affecting our industry and responding to proposed regulations.  

OFA has already hosted a series of events and meetings with politicians, staff and policy advisors this spring, taking our members’ messages from the back roads of Ontario to the halls of Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. We’ve hosted Ontario caucuses for breakfast, and most recently, held an Ontario Farm Day event in Ottawa with Ontario MPs.

Farm Day involved members from across Ontario meeting at Parliament Hill with their MP. OFA leaders also met with our federal representatives in a series of meetings identifying our federal priorities for the upcoming election. Our first message was that the agri-food industry is the largest economic engine in Ontario. And the agri-food industry begins with Ontario farms providing high quality product to consumers and to food processors. The Ontario farm agenda is an important issue in the coming election.

The farmers’ messages to MPs from the three parties were clear. Ontario farmers are very concerned with the state of our business risk management programs. We need to hear party platforms that unequivocally promise to work with farmers to develop practical and bankable programs. Current risk management programs have been cut and are no longer effective in periods of poor market returns.

OFA will also be looking for election platforms with a strong commitment to rebuild Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research capacity. Research funding shows real declines of 24% over the past five years. World class scientists are retiring and need to be replaced. Public research in agriculture has proven to be a great investment and needs to be bolstered following the election to protect our competitiveness and enable innovation.

OFA is also looking to the next federal government to make a serious commitment to infrastructure funding. This includes the roads and bridges that rural Ontario depends on to move equipment, inputs and farm products but also broadband infrastructure to hook up the last mile in rural Ontario. Our businesses and our communities simply have to be connected to survive and thrive. And of course infrastructure must include the pipes we need in rural Ontario to get natural gas to our homes and farms. The energy savings from using gas instead of electricity or propane will drive a huge wave of new investment in rural Ontario and drive our economy forward.

Spring is a time to renewal on the farm and a time to look ahead. OFA has begun to look ahead to the federal election in October and ensuring the needs of Ontario farmers are firmly entrenched in campaign platforms.  

For more information, contact:

Debra Pretty-Straathof
Board Member
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture


Leasa Janssen says on April 3, 2015 at 10:51 AM

Where does the power issue come in? From what I hear that is the biggest issue facing farmers today. We pay double what our urban counterparts do who use a comparable amount of power. Since we pay such a high delivery rate and over all bills, we also pay more toward the debt retirement (which is actually a tax) on our bills than does any other business. Why should farmers and rural citizen pay more? We know power lines also run from the country to the cities and power infrastructure is very expensive to maintain in the cities. The Liberal government has borrowed billions of dollars from Hydro One of which they are the only shareholder. They borrowed this money to pay for their gov. initiatives which makes it a tax. The way they set up this billing, was designed to make rural people pay the lion's share and not upset voters in cities because that's where all their seats are. Farmers are suffering and having a very hard time. Power bills are out of control. Most power costs have doubled. And, fuel is also up and about to get hit with a Wynne carbon tax. Whenever a government needs to fleece the people, they yell 'global warming', 'climate change' and rural people know they are about to be bent over. That's all it's about and we shouldn't buy into it. You can't tell me that it's better for the world to have what once used to be lush food crops in fields covered in black toxic plastic that kills the earth. Please don't dismiss these thoughts. It's time to start backing the farmer and not the politicians. Leasa

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