Clean, safe drinking water is one of the most essential resources on a farm and in a home. Here in Ontario, we’re fortunate to have an ample supply of fresh, safe and sustainable groundwater. Ontario’s groundwater is monitored through the Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network, that shares the responsibility with conservation authorities, municipalities and cities to regularly test and monitor the quality and safety of our provincial drinking water. Regular water quality testing of private wells is the responsibility of the property or well owner.
A new year, and a new decade, is a great opportunity to reflect on where we have been and look ahead to the opportunities and challenges for Ontario’s agri-food industry.
As we approach the year-end, it’s a good to recap of how the past 12 months have had an impact on Ontario’s agri-food sector, our farms and our families. No one can argue that it hasn’t been a tough year in the agri-food industry with market disruptions, trade issues, weather and labour disputes.
Ontario’s agri-food industry is a powerhouse for the province and we’ve got room to grow – that’s the message the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) took to the halls and offices of Queen’s Park on December 9, 2019.
A recent survey of Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) members showed that 91% of respondents are having conversations about the future of their family farms. But none of them have a written transition plan to safeguard their farm and family. The results are startling, but align with the 2016 Census of Agriculture that indicated less than 10% of Canadian farms felt they had a written plan for their farm.
For more than a year, Ontario’s beef industry has been in a state of uncertainty and duress. Depressed market prices, trade and market access barriers, a shortage of processing capacity and most recently, the prolonged licence suspension for Ryding-Regency Meat Packers, a significant player in beef processing for Eastern Canada.
When CN Rail workers went on strike on November 19, they put the Canadian agriculture sector in jeopardy. CN is Canada’s biggest rail network and the strike of more than 3,000 workers is already impacting the agricultural sector. Canadian farmers are in the middle of one of the toughest harvest seasons and with early winter weather already hitting much of the country, farmers are now contending with issues related to the availability of propane for grain farms and livestock and poultry operations.
Natural gas is the cleanest, most affordable and efficient fossil fuel available in Ontario to heat our homes and use in commercial and industrial processes. Renewable natural gas offers an even better option for a more environmentally sustainable source of energy for the province, and agricultural byproducts can help fuel this cleaner energy.
Greater access to natural gas has significant implications for Ontario farmers, and is an infrastructure priority for our province. We know it’s a more affordable option. It will dramatically boost business opportunities by significantly lowering energy costs for farms and rural communities. In fact, it’s estimated that the energy savings for Ontario’s farm sector alone would be up to $200 million every year.
Strong leadership forms the foundation of any government, organization and business. We’ve seen our fair share of leaders vying for recognition and positions lately with the federal election, and it’s a good reminder of the qualities that make successful leadership.