News

Use constituency week to make your case for ag sector growth (2013)

By Debra Pretty-Straathof, Vice-President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)

November 11-15 is constituency week for Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). For Ontario farmers, it’s an opportunity to meet with their MPPs to talk about three key issues that would make a significant difference in ensuring prosperous and sustainable farms in Ontario.

First, OFA has spearheaded a lobby campaign seeking natural gas infrastructure for rural Ontario. Natural gas is half the cost of electricity and approximately one-third the cost of propane, but natural gas is accessible to less than one-fifth of Ontario farms. Expanding natural gas pipelines in rural Ontario would help reduce the operating costs of heated barns, grain dryers, greenhouses and other facilities. Access to natural gas in rural Ontario will also reduce demand on the province’s already burdened electrical supply. In advance of the spring 2014 budget, the OFA is lobbying the provincial government to commit to expanding natural gas infrastructure in Ontario, and to create a long-term plan to provide natural gas access to rural Ontario farms, businesses and constituents. OFA members can also support this initiative by sending a letter to key decision-makers by visiting actnow.ofa.on.ca.

The second issue on OFA’s current legislative agenda includes amendments to property assessment and taxation. Ontario farmers need more predictability in the assessment and tax system so we can meet Premier Wynne’s call to double Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food growth rate. OFA is lobbying the provincial government to add a late application process (and corresponding late application fee) to the Farm Property Class Tax Rate Program to allow farm properties taxed at the residential tax rate to be properly placed in the farm tax class. We also look to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to advise farmers how assessment classifications might change if farmers choose to add new business ventures to their farm.

Third on OFA’s legislative agenda this session is the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act (Bill 6), which has just been added to the Open For Business Agri-Food consultation discussions. OFA believes the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act is a classic case of over-legislation and the introduction of this new legislation could easily be addressed with existing statutes. The hallmark of regulatory modernization initiatives throughout the world is to avoid duplicating or conflicting regulations. While well intentioned, OFA believes the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act is unnecessary given the existing regulations within the Ontario Water Resources Act, Clean Water Act, Planning Act and Nutrient Management Act. We look forward to meaningful dialogue between farmers and representatives from the many ministries with a hand in this act, and we are pleased to see discussions move forward under the Open For Business banner.

OFA encourages members to get involved by meeting with MPPs in the coming days. Ontario agriculture is dynamic. Growth and innovation continue to drive our industry and push the boundaries of traditional agriculture.Today, Ontario farmers produce more than 200 different commodities, and farming alone contributes more than $11 billion to our provincial economy – driving jobs in food processing and across our agri-food system. We look forward to sharing our good news stories – and our ideas for how we can work with government to improve agriculture’s story, even more.

For more information contact:

Debra Pretty-Straathof
Vice-President
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
613-371-8840

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



Comments

Ron Jordan says on November 8, 2013 at 6:36 PM

The three main point for lobbying and on the legislative agenda are excellent: i) natural gas has been long overdue to the rural farmers ....it will significantly cut down the cost of operating a farm in Ontario plus reduce the use of electricity , propane , oil , etc. ii) farmers must have special treatment with regards to any new property assessment and taxation....it only makes sense that if food products are to be increased and sold at reasonable value to Ontario residents farmers should have special tax breaks, iii) water conservation , wise use of water and reusing water after cleaning are very important issues for Ontario farmers as it is everything to the success of crops and production of Ag products and livestock. Please keep up the good work at the OFA Executive level. I will talk to my local MPP and let them know how important these issues are to the survival of farming in Ontario!


Olga Crocker says on November 10, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Why am I getting information in November 2013 that tells me what I should have done prior to April 30, 2013?


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