When the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers gather next week in Quebec City, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) wants to ensure Ontario’s Minster Hardeman addresses our key issues with his colleagues. We’ve provided Minister Hardeman with issues to resolve when he meets with his peers at the annual conference.
A new temporary solution to respond to animal protection issues in Ontario was announced last week by the Solicitor General. To fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of Ontario Society for the Prevention of Animals (OSPCA) in April 2019 – and its animal protection investigative and enforcement services – the Ontario government has created a new model as they transition to a new animal protection system.
Last week the Ontario government reassigned some key ministerial positions. The shuffle saw some champions of Ontario agriculture and rural communities reassigned, while newer faces are assuming leadership positions. The cabinet change also saw the creation of five new associate ministers and a new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, expanding the cabinet from 21 to 28 ministers and associate ministers.
Canada finally has a road map for a more sustainable food system with the federal government’s unveiling of its Food Policy for Canada on June 17. This is good news for all Canadians, and the agri-food sector. The national policy’s broad vision sets out to ensure all Canadians have access to enough safe, nutritious and culturally diverse food, and that our food system is resilient and innovative to sustain the environment and support the economy.
Queen’s Park MPPs left Toronto last week, returning to their local constituencies for an extended summer break. That means your local politicians will be in and around the community over the next five months, providing a great opportunity to talk with them about the issues impacting the agri-food sector and the action and support we need when the house sits again in the fall.
Mental wellness on the farm is gaining momentum as the industry draws attention to the impact silent suffering has on the health of our farms, families and rural communities. The federal government recently released a new report, Mental Health – A Priority for our Farmers, based on a six-month study conducted last year on the mental health challenges facing Canadian producers.
The provincial government recently released a discussion paper – Modernizing Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Program – as they consider changes to the Environmental Assessment Act. The government has asked for public input on the proposed vision for the environmental assessment program based on the discussion paper.
Ontario’s farm workforce is changing. More farmers are retiring, selling their farms or transitioning the business to the next generation. Younger farm faces are making more purchasing and management decisions. And while technology and automation are changing the way many farm businesses operate, Ontario remains Canada’s largest agricultural employer and we rely heavily on a skilled labour force that is increasingly shrinking.
Trespassing on farm property is a growing concern for Ontario farmers. From rural trail hikers detouring into a pasture to ATV drivers ruining crops, farmers have dealt with all types of unwanted visitors on the farm who leave varying degrees of damage. The latest threat to farmers, especially livestock farmers and transporters is the increasing risk of activists trespassing, invading, breaking into barns and harassing farmers, their families and employees.
Changes are being made to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the government is welcoming comments on proposed revisions. This legislation impacts Ontario farmers who often deal with the habitats of many endangered, threatened and species of special concern on and around their farms.