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OFA Commentaries

Read OFA’s weekly commentaries for our position and activities on the current issues and legislation impacting Ontario’s agriculture sector. View on the OFA website.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

By Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Canadian agriculture and our trading opportunities are in a very precarious position as trade negotiations between Mexico and the U.S. appear to be moving forward. It’s an extremely unfortunate situation for our industry and our country, as Mexico appears to have caved under the undoubtedly heavy handed approach of the U.S. These latest negotiations excluded Canada – even though we are a much more significant trading partner.

For the past many months, Canada has been at the table in an attempt to negotiate a new trilateral trade agreement with the U.S. and Mexico – to replace the 24-year old North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that U.S. President Trump believes is grossly unfair…only for Americans.

By Brent Royce, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

The strength of any organization depends on the involvement of its members in providing guidance and participating at the grassroots level. For the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), one of the key ways of encouraging local participation is at regional annual meetings that are happening across the province over the next few months.

OFA encourages all members to take the time to attend their local meeting to vote for local delegates, engage in discussions about the issues and priorities for the farm sector, and connect with other OFA members in your community.

By Pat Jilesen, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Ontario is ripe with agri-food opportunities for farmers, food processors and entrepreneurs. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is a strong promoter of farming and of value-added initiatives through our awareness and advocacy work with government, policy advisors and municipal planners.

OFA’s board of directors recently toured Northumberland County for a firsthand look at the innovative farms and value-added agri-food businesses in the region.

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

In a recent submission to the federal government, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) outlined a plan to ensure Canada’s competitiveness… through our agri-food sector. The document was submitted as part of consultations before the 2019 federal budget is released. OFA clearly outlined the opportunities that would keep Ontario agri-food businesses competitive, and continue to drive provincial and federal economies.

OFA focused on three priority areas to ensure Canada’s competitiveness.

By Louis Roesch, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Farmers and community partners are taking action to keep waterways safe with a science-based approach. Four new on-farm test sites will be added this fall in southwestern Ontario, thanks to new funding, to collect real-time data on phosphorus and nitrogen loss into waterways, as part of the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative (PRC).

A recent federal funding announcement has helped the group expand their research. One is already operating, and four more will be added with the new funding. The project sites will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of phosphorus removal technologies at the edge of agricultural fields and in municipal drains that collect agricultural runoff in the Thames River Basin area.

By Jackie Kelly-Pemberton, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

On any given day, farmers are talking about the weather. It dictates what we do across all seasons and dominates our thoughts and conversations as we try to work with or around whatever nature dishes out. And this season has provided plenty of fodder for commenting, comparing and complaining about the drought-like conditions across most of the province, followed by a few heavy rains over the past week.

The incidence of extreme weather events seems to be accelerating. Variable planting and harvesting conditions each year make for highly unpredictable farming schedules and yields. Extreme fluctuations in temperatures throughout the summer and winter months challenge our livestock and our own stewardship capabilities. But this all seems to be the new normal so, farmers need to find ways to adapt with and thrive in this changing environment.

By Brent Royce, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Every community across Ontario has dreamed up, created and carried out interesting programs and events to support their local agri-food sector. These local initiatives are powered by volunteers, and anything that helps get these ideas and projects off the ground saves valuable time and energy.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has created a new online resource to give communities and local municipalities a head start on their next project. It’s an idea bank full of existing projects, programs and tools that any community can access to help with a local initiative. The Agri-Food Initiatives Ontario Directory was created to encourage the pay-it-forward premise – sharing resources to encourage others to get a great idea off the ground. By sharing, you can avoid duplication, avoid pitfalls or challenges, and use limited resources more efficiently.

By Peggy Brekveld, Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

As the new PC government sits at Queen’s Park for the first time, the Premier is expected to provide direction to each new cabinet member about the priorities for their ministry. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has crafted its own priority recommendations to key cabinet ministers as its first official communication with the new provincial policymakers.

By Drew Spoelstra, Executive Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Weather, climate and trade are all hot topics in Ontario right now. The recent elimination of Ontario’s cap and trade program is leading the news in the province and leaving Ontario farmers with questions.

Wellington Federation of Agriculture

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