GUELPH, ON [November 6, 2020] – On Wednesday, prior to yesterday’s official budget announcement, the Ontario government announced the allocation of nearly $1 billion to expand and improve rural broadband and cellular access.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has continuously advocated on behalf of our members to secure broadband expansion across rural Ontario. In today’s environment, access to fast, reliable broadband Internet is vital to the success of Ontario’s farm businesses and rural communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized a gap in coverage and future need for broadband expansion as it has left businesses pivoting to virtual marketplaces and youth learning in virtual classrooms.
“OFA is extremely pleased to see the government respond with a significant investment towards expanding broadband and cellular access to rural communities,” said Keith Currie, OFA President. “We’ve advocated strongly for better broadband access and this announcement will be greatly welcomed by the farming community as it will enable farmers to successfully run their businesses without infrastructure limitations.”
OFA recognizes and appreciates the commitment from Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario government to invest in infrastructure that will support economic growth for the agri-food sector and ensure we have strong and vibrant communities. Ontario’s agriculture and food industry is dynamic, resilient and has the potential to produce greater prosperity for the entire province. Farmers run modern businesses that require innovative technology, high-speed internet access and reliable cellular coverage. This investment solidifies the government’s confidence in our sector and will help create new opportunities for growing existing businesses, attracting new companies and boosting regional economic development.
The provincial government also announced an investment of $25.5 million over three years towards the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. This initiative will help reduce disruptions in business operations and risks of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, while supporting the sector’s capacity to continue to supply safe, high-quality and nutritious local food. The investment will support efforts to innovate and invest in new technologies, leading to increased efficiencies and productivity and helping to support resilience and long-term sustainability and growth in the agri-food sector. Innovation resulting from this investment will further support efforts to modernize workplaces to enhance worker health and safety.
The government is also showing its support towards initiatives that will sustain Ontario’s agri-food supply chain and help to ensure it is in a position to respond proactively to challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as weather future market fluctuations.
Additionally, a pandemic motivated $5 million funding allocation to agriculture and horticulture societies was unveiled to ensure their survival during these difficult times.
“Agriculture and horticulture societies are the backbone of our rural communities,” stated Currie. “They promote Ontario agriculture, food literacy, volunteerism, showcase the importance of rural life and bring consumers and producers together. Providing support to ensure they survive not only this pandemic, but for generations to come is a great initiative.”
OFA looks forward to learning more about the details of these investment announcements and working together with the Ontario government to benefit the agri-food sector and rural communities across the province.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer. For more information, visit ofa.on.ca.
For more information, contact:
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Ontario Federation of Agriculture