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By Mark Reusser, Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Failure to plan was cited by Canada’s Auditor General as the reason the federal government has not delivered broadband access to rural and remote areas of the country. Included in the report to Parliament in late November, the Auditor General said the lack of a national strategy has hampered the implementation of the Liberal government’s Connection to Innovate program. The federal broadband program had previously allocated $500 million over five years, beginning in 2016, to extend broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across Canada.

The Auditor General’s report also stated that a government analysis in 2013 found that running high-speed internet to 99 per cent of Canadians would cost between $1.1 and $1.7 billion. Without proper planning and budget allocation it’s unlikely the federal government will deliver on its promise to connect the country.

By Peggy Brekveld, Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Farmers are dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of our land. It’s our business to maintain healthy soils that will ensure food production today and for future generations. Soil is one of our most valuable and irreplaceable resources. That’s why the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is committed to researching, implementing and promoting farming practices that protect our soil and environment.

OFA recently renewed an important partnership with agricultural organizations that will see the continuation of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program. Together with Fertilizer Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Agri Business Association, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, OFA signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. The agreement, along with a combined total investment of nearly $400,000 will ensure the 4R program will continue providing solutions for Ontario farmers currently facing the pressures of reducing environmental impacts while maximizing yields and economic benefits.

Ottawa – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) was very pleased to hear the Fall fiscal update delivered by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau on November 21st.

Many of the recommendations that CFA made in the 2019 Pre-budget submission to help Canadian farmers were addressed, as well as recommendations by the agri-food economic strategy table.

By Pat Jilesen, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Doug Griffiths turned heads at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s (OFA) recent annual general meeting with his presentation on “13 Ways to Kill Your Community.” Based on a best-selling book he co-authored, Griffiths addressed the crowd of voting delegates, agriculture industry representatives and politicians from across the province, outlining the most common mistakes most communities make that hinder their success.

A former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Griffiths has traveled across North America to visit communities, interview residents and councilors, and consulted with many communities to inspire positive changes.

GUELPH, ON – Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) members from across the province met this week to discuss the agri-food sector’s potential for growth, vote for leadership of the organization and address related challenges facing the industry.

More than 350 agricultural representatives met in Hamilton at the OFA annual general meeting (AGM) November 19-20. Keith Currie, OFA’s 31st president, was acclaimed for his third one-year term. Voting delegates re-elected Peggy Brekveld and Mark Reusser to the vice president positions. Drew Spoelstra was elected by the board as the fourth executive member. Joining the OFA board this year is Hugh Simpson, elected at the AGM as Director-at-Large and Melissa Schneider, representing Zone 4 – Elgin and Oxford counties. Two long-time directors retired from OFA’s board this year, Mark Wales and Peter Lambrick. OFA’s Board of Directors is made up of 18 positions representing regions across Ontario.

GUELPH, ON – Lauren Benoit, Tamara Hamilton and Megan Wright all received a special education bursary from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) yesterday at the organization’s annual meeting. The three Ontario university students will each receive $2,000 towards their continuing agricultural education. Bursary funds were raised through a silent auction at OFA’s annual general meeting. This is the third year OFA has awarded the bursary to OFA family members, choosing these three from 37 entries.

“These bursaries are an investment in future farm leaders and advocates,” says OFA President Keith Currie. “As our industry gets more complex and works to get closer to the consumer, we need advocates more than ever before. These three students are already making a difference in our industry and we are happy to be able to provide some financial support.”

By Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

As Ontario’s fall harvest continues, corn quality and the threat of moulds and mycotoxins have become a serious concern across the province. Elevated levels of vomitoxin (DON) in this year’s corn crop has growers concerned about finding a market for their grain, and in some cases, figuring out how to safely dispose of crops that cannot be marketed.

Mycotoxins and DON can cause serious health threats to livestock when ingested at concentrated levels. DON can also pose a serious health threat to farmers working with the infected grain if the mould is inhaled. Early field reports across the province are indicating higher than expected levels of DON and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) reminds all farmers to work safely during the busy harvest season, especially when dealing with DON-infected corn.

By Brent Royce, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

The recent introduction of Bill 47 – Making Ontario Open for Business Act in the Ontario legislature provides some regulatory relief for farmers, employers and small business owners. Bill 47 proposes to amend three legislative acts impacting employment in the province – the Employment Standards Act, Labour Relations Act and Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act. These acts all influence employment regulations for Ontario businesses, including farms.

If passed, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) believes Bill 47 signals the return of balance to Ontario workplaces. OFA is hopeful this new legislation will start the process of amending other regulations that are restricting the growth and ability to create new jobs for many of our province’s farms and small and medium sized businesses. Bill 148 and the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is also facing changes with some of the more controversial sections, like minimum wage increases, being repealed or revised by the government.

OTTAWA – Canadian Federation of Agriculture President Ron Bonnett made the following statement in reaction to the formal ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

“The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is very pleased to see the CPTPP receive royal assent so quickly, as ratification allows Canadian farmers to have a ‘first-movers advantage’ in entering these new markets and capturing export opportunities.

By Crispin Colvin, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Ontario went to the polls for the second time this year with the municipal elections on October 22. While municipal politics may not be as high on some people’s radar as what happens at Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill, agriculture and our rural communities depend on sound municipal government for many aspects of our day-to-day farm businesses and lives in rural Ontario.

Politics can be a thankless calling. OFA salutes all the candidates who put their name on a ballot with a desire to serve in public office and we congratulate all those who were successful. Municipal leadership is a vital cornerstone of successful and sustainable communities across Ontario.

OTTAWA – Draft regulations announced yesterday concerning fuel costs and GHG emissions have addressed some of farmers’ concerns, but gaps remain, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is keen to work with governments to develop new programs that will support the agriculture sector going forward.

“Canadian farmers know first-hand the effects of climate change. They see it in the shifting growing and rainfall patterns, and the movement of pests affecting our crops, among other changes. Farmers must be at the table when policies and programs are being developed, and the draft GHG and fuel regulations are no exception,” said Ron Bonnett, CFA President. “New pricing systems should be complemented by investments in our production systems.”

By Debra Pretty-Straathof, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Safety must be a top priority on and off the farm – especially now as farmers head out on the roads with equipment during harvest. It’s getting tougher to travel on roadways. Roads, bridges and traffic circles aren’t built to accommodate machinery and a lot more motorists are increasingly impatient around slow moving vehicles.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) recently sent a letter to the Minister of Transportation, John Yakabuski outlining the key issues and concerns farmers face when travelling Ontario’s roadways with farm equipment. The letter was part of OFA’s series of priority letters sent to various ministries that focus on short-term issues we are asking the provincial government to address.

By Mark Wales, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Every year, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has the opportunity to make a formal presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance, in advance of the federal government’s spring release of its annual budget. We used this recent forum with the committee to remind the government about the investments needed to continue to drive the economic powerhouse that is our agri-food sector and our rural communities.

The government’s own Barton Report, released in 2017, clearly identified the agri-food industry as one of the key sectors to drive growth and create jobs. But we can only really succeed with strategic investments in rural Canada that will support our ability to operate in a competitive marketplace.

Friday October 26, 2018

Speaker: Keith Currie - Looking Forward

Keith Currie, a Collingwood-area hay and sweet corn farmer, was acclaimed as President of the OFA at the 2017 Annual General Meeting, returning for his second year in the position. Keith was the organization’s Vice President from 2013-2016. His 25+ years of experience with the OFA began with the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture, where he held numerous positions including President from 2004-2006.


Keith is a graduate of Ridgetown College with a diploma in Agriculture Production Management. After college Keith returned home to manage an eighth-generation dairy and cash crop farm in Simcoe County with his wife Janice and four children. The dairy herd was dispersed in 2003 and the operation now focuses on production of grains and oilseed, forages for dry hay, along with sweet corn and gladiolus flower production.


Keith served on the Expert Advisory Panel for the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review chaired by former Mayor of Toronto, David Crombie in 2015. Keith was a respected voice speaking out for agriculture in this role.


Keith continues to garner the respect of policy-makers as he looks forward to challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for our industry.

The Wellington Federation of Agriculture’s Annual meeting:

Friday, October 26, 2018
6:30: Social and 7:00: Banquet

Location: Fergus Legion Branch 275
500 Blair Street, Fergus
(just off St. Andrews W.)

Tickets: $15 each ($10 students)

Your choice of a chicken or roast beef dinner catered by Helen McFadzean, plus insights into farm politics, and a little federation business for just $15!

Don’t wait. Call and order tickets now!
Call 519-848-3774 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Most Canadians and business sectors are relieved that a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been drafted. Canadian markets in agriculture, automobiles and services are highly integrated across North American. A tripartite trade agreement is a necessity to keep goods and services flowing. Unfortunately, a major part of Canadian agriculture is the sacrificial lamb in the new iteration of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new deal opens up more market access for U.S. farmers who want to export dairy, eggs and poultry into Canada.

We need trade, there’s no denying it. Solid trade agreements and rules are critical to many sectors of Canadian agriculture with export interests including beef, pork and grain. But the opening of new market access to dairy, chicken and eggs is a serious blow that will have a lasting impact on the health of Canada’s supply managed commodities and extract economic activity from our rural communities.

GUELPH, ON – Representatives of Ontario’s largest industry – agriculture and food – presented a plan to boost the provincial economy today at Queen’s Park. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO) and Spirits Canada joined together to outline priority areas for the Ontario government to create more jobs, grow our economy and improve the quality of life for Ontarians.

“Ontario’s agri-food sector is already the largest contributor to the provincial economy, bringing in more than $40 billion in GDP annually,” says OFA President Keith Currie. “Today we reminded the government of our strength and suggested a few priority areas to focus on that would generate tremendous fiscal returns and overall growth for the province.”

GUELPH, ON – Representatives of Ontario’s largest industry – agriculture and food – presented a plan to boost the provincial economy today at Queen’s Park. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO) and Spirits Canada joined together to outline priority areas for the Ontario government to create more jobs, grow our economy and improve the quality of life for Ontarians.

“Ontario’s agri-food sector is already the largest contributor to the provincial economy, bringing in more than $40 billion in GDP annually,” says OFA President Keith Currie. “Today we reminded the government of our strength and suggested a few priority areas to focus on that would generate tremendous fiscal returns and overall growth for the province.”

OTTAWA -The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is deeply disappointed with the agricultural concessions included in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

While the government did achieve beneficial results for some sectors within agriculture, such as increased U.S. market access for Canada’s sugar beet producers, initial indications suggest the livelihood of producers in Canada’s supply managed sectors will be hurt by the concessions included within this new trade deal.

By Mark Reusser, Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Over the past few weeks, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) delivered 13 priority letters to several provincial ministries outlining the key issues and concerns for Ontario agriculture and our rural communities. These letters outline the short-term areas on which OFA feels the ministers can make quick improvements for the benefit of our farm members.

Since the PC government took power in Ontario this summer, OFA has been working to introduce the new government to the agri-food sector – highlighting the depth and diversity of our economic powerhouse. We also continue to work on a long-term investment strategy by working with government policymakers to support economic growth and competitiveness in our industry and in our rural communities.

OTTAWA – Canadian Federation of Agriculture President Ron Bonnett made the following statement in reaction to the report released earlier this week by Canada’s Agri-food Economic Strategy Roundtable.

“The Canadian Federation of Agriculture welcomes the Agri-food Economic Strategy Table’s report as a roadmap that helps clarify key measures that will leverage the sector’s immense potential, in both domestic and international markets.

We have long supported the call for a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to navigate the intense competitive pressures our sector faces. The key themes in the report reflect the issues we hear from farmers and their value chain partners, while articulating clear directions where industry and government can work together.

By Larry Davis, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

From international trade talks to provincial and federal government issues, the agri-food sector finds itself in the spotlight – and not always in a way that represents the real value and strength it brings to the economy. When Ontario votes for municipal government representatives on October 22, let’s make sure they know how important the agri-food sector is to the prosperity of local municipalities and rural communities across Ontario.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) encourages its members to get involved with the municipal candidates in their region. It’s critical that everyone running for public office understands the issues that affect our livelihood and our rural communities. Whoever we elect will be in a position to impact policies and bylaws that determine the way we operate our farm businesses. So let’s make sure they understand what’s important to the agri-food sector.

GUELPH, ON – Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced promising news for Ontario farmers, businesses and rural communities today with proposed new legislation that would expand access to natural gas in rural and northern Ontario. “We have been pushing for the need for more widespread, affordable natural gas energy across rural Ontario, so this is encouraging news for the agricultural community,” says Keith Currie, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

Ford used opening day of the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo to announce the government’s plans to introduce a new Access to Natural Gas Act that would encourage partnerships between private gas distributors and communities to develop projects that expand access to natural gas. If the new legislation is passed, the Ontario government says it will work with the Ontario Energy Board to develop regulations to enable the program this fall.

By Mark Kunkel, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Some long awaited relief is on the way for Ontario livestock farmers with the promise of changes coming to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP). Predators are a constant threat to farm animals, especially cattle and sheep, and the current compensation process was an aggravation for Ontario farmers.

On September 10 the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) announced his government’s commitment to program improvements in the coming months, in consultation with industry stakeholders. One change that’s effective immediately is the Farm Business Registration (FBR) eligibility change. This was a frustrating technicality for claims submissions, and now Ontario farmers who pay their FBR registration by September 1 will remain eligible for claims.

GUELPH, ON – On behalf of their combined membership of 60,000 farmers, the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO), Ontario Sheep Farmers (OSF) and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), are pleased by the changes made to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP) announced today by The Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The three leadership organizations are also encouraged by the Minister’s stated commitment to introduce further program improvements in the coming months, in consultation with industry stakeholders.

The OWDCP is an important program for livestock farmers in Ontario, particularly for those in the beef and sheep sectors where conflicts with wildlife are common, and result in significant economic losses for both farmers and the broader agri-food economy.

By Louis Roesch, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

September means show season for Ontario farmers and rural residents. While it’s busy on the farm, the agriculture industry makes time to attend events like Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS) and the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM).

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) looks forward to meeting with our members every September at these two popular shows. There are many other events throughout the fall too, but OFA will be hosting members at our display at COFS (September 11-13) and IPM (September 18-22).

Wellington Federation of Agriculture

RR#2 / Kenilworth ON N0G 2E0 519.848.3774
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