By Don McCabe, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
What a year it’s been for Ontario agriculture. Weather, market prices, new regulations and new governments have presented challenges for Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) members. And we’ve been working with members, championing their interests and needs to government.
Thanks to the work of our board of directors, staff, county federations, and members, the interests of Ontario farmers have been represented and presented to local municipalities, Queen’s Park, Ottawa, and the global farming and science community. Some issues have been addressed quickly, while others are ongoing and will take time to see results.
One of the most positive outcomes this year is the inclusion of farming and farmland preservation in the recent 10-year review of four Ontario provincial land use plans. The advisory board recommendations clearly state the importance of protecting agricultural land and acknowledge farming’s contribution in our province. Land use has always been a top priority for OFA, as directed by our members and their feedback. We look forward to working with the government as they implement these recommendations next year and beyond.
The Ontario government led an aggressive public policy schedule this year. Key issues included pollinator health, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act, Invasive Species Act, changes to crop insurance, phosphorous targets, and cap and trade policies to name a few. OFA was at the table, discussing the impacts these policy changes will have on Ontario farm businesses.
The work continues on most of these issues. For example, OFA needs to stay engaged as regulations are designed to implement the Invasive Species Act. Continued progress in the design of a cap and trade program will evolve over the coming year and clarity to phosphorous targets is required. OFA continues to meet with policy makers to have the Ontario farm voices heard and acknowledged.
Queen’s Park has been a prominent venue for OFA this past year. From lobby efforts, MPP meetings, standing committee appearances, and opportunities to listen to the debate and proceedings of the legislative assembly, the OFA wants to thank the efforts of all MPP’s and their staff for the hard work and openness to listen to OFA’s positions.
This year saw a change in federal government. OFA works closely with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture to ensure our federal priorities of improved agricultural research, risk management and infrastructure funding are represented. With the mandate letters available from the new federal government, a vision is offered on the direction of this majority government. Agriculture can and will play a prominent role in Canada’s future with needed investments of shared policy direction and program funds.
We’ll continue our focus on government relations in 2016 with events like OFA Field Day that brings MPPs to the farm, and Queen’s Park events where we meet MPPs regularly in their offices. As we enter our 80th anniversary of championing the needs of Ontario farmers, OFA is proud to continue to represent the interests of Ontario agriculture. But before we start another year, it’s time to relax a little to spend time with family and friends over the holidays. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year from OFA.
For more information, contact:
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Ontario Federation of Agriculture