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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.

Overview

Under Ontario’s Farm Implements Act matters related to equipment performance, warranties and spare parts should be brought to the attention of the Farm Implements Act Coordinator.

In Ontario, all new farm machinery purchases costing over $3,500 are protected by law in terms of warranty, safety and parts supply. This protection is provided by the Farm Implements Act. Purchases of used machinery are covered in matters relating to safety, parts supply and repairs, though they are not covered on warranty issues.

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.

OTTAWA, July 18, 2018 – Agriculture industry leaders highlighted several options for economic strategy in their meeting today with federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) agriculture ministers. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s (CFA) annual industry-government FPT Roundtable took place in Vancouver, BC, where farm leaders from each province sat side-by-side with their provincial agriculture ministers to talk about how local and regional aspects connect with the national plans to grow the sector.

“The growth potential for Canadian agriculture reflects the sector’s vibrancy and diversity. However, this also reflects the range of complexities we must clarify if we are to prosper to the fullest extent possible,” said Ron Bonnett, CFA President. “That why CFA members stressed to Canada’s agriculture ministers that we must remember the interconnected nature of our agricultural policies, such as those involving labour, trade, and rural infrastructure.”

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.

Ottawa, ON (July 9, 2018) – Canada’s AgGrowth coalition and our members believe it is critical to continue the Business Risk Management (BRM) review with a comprehensive mandate, and encourage the Federal Provincial Territorial (FPT) Agriculture Ministers to extend the review process without delay.

In summer of 2017, the FPT Agriculture Ministers initiated a review of the BRM programming in response to concerns that BRM programming did not meet farmer’s needs. The review is not complete, and more work needs to be done to achieve a complete picture of gaps in the BRM suite and identify solutions.

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.

GUELPH, ON [June 29, 2018] – With the announcement of Doug Ford’s new provincial cabinet today, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is anxious to get down to work with all new ministers who will interface with and have an impact on Ontario’s agriculture industry.

“We’re pleased with Ford’s choice of Ernie Hardeman for the minister responsible for agriculture, food and rural affairs for Ontario,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. Long-time MPP, agriculture minister under the Harris government and a recent agriculture critic, Hardeman comes to the job with plenty of experience. “And we look forward to working with the all other ministries that affect the agricultural industry including including Environment, Conservation and Parks; Infrastructure; Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; Municipal Affairs and Housing; Health and Long-Term Care; and Transportation.”

Overview

In Ontario, the primary production of food and fibre is tied to farmland. Ontario’s level of food production is tied to the capacity of farm property and the restrictions imposed on farming activities. A number of provincial statutes, policies and programs effect how farmers carry out their day-to-day day activities.

In a March 2015 survey, OFA members identified farmland rental conditions imposed by landlords on farmland they rent. Approximately 75% of OFA members surveyed said that if they owned their currently rented farmland, they would make additional productivity improvement investments to the farmland. The need for an investment in tile drainage was frequently noted.

WASHINGTON – The leaders of the U.S. National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) in a joint statement today urged Canadian and U.S. officials to preserve the strong, longstanding trade relationship between the two countries.

GUELPH, ON [June 8, 2018] – OFA congratulates Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party on forming the next government in Ontario. “We look forward to getting to know new MPPs across the province, and connecting with returning politicians to continue the conversations we started during the election period about the needs of the agricultural sector and our rural communities,” says Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

Throughout the election, OFA reinforced that agriculture and rural Ontario hold the key for provincial prosperity and long-term economic growth – already contributing $13.7 billion to the province’s annual GDP and $1.4 billion in provincial tax revenues. OFA gathered support for its Producing Prosperity in Ontario campaign from all parties during the campaign – a platform to support spreading economic development across the province.

Overview

On April 23, 2018, the Ontario government released New Horizons: Ontario’s Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy after an extensive consultation process. This Strategy sets out a detailed framework for sustainability that will guide the long-term health of agricultural soils through to 2030.

Healthy soils are a priority for farmers and critical to the sustainability of Ontario agriculture. Recognizing its importance and potential to impact the agriculture community, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), along with other industry partners and Ontario farmers were actively involved in the consultations and discussions on this complex topic. In addition to our involvement on the Strategy Working Group, we found the level of collaboration across the industry to be unprecedented.

Overview

The OFA has long supported the concept of having each farmer in the province prepare and implement a nutrient management planning strategy specific to their farm operation.

For more information, visit OMAFRA’s website on the Nutrient Management Act and Regulations.

OFA Position

OFA believes that agriculture has to be a responsible partner in the rural communities of Ontario, taking all necessary measures to protect the environment, ensuring that drinking water sources remain pure and clean, and the air is safe to breathe.

For more information, read OFA’s position on Nutrient Management

MISSISSAUGA, ON [May 29, 2018] Building on their shared values and a relationship forged over many years, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize their commitment to work together to address key safety issues affecting Ontario farmers, agriculture employees and farm families.

“Safety is a priority and should be everyone’s responsibility on a farm,” says Keith Currie, OFA President. “This MOU strengthens the long-standing relationship OFA shares with WSPS – formerly Farm Safety Association. Together we’ll continue to develop safety materials to raise awareness and help keep our farm communities safe.”

OTTAWA, May 23, 2018 – Canadian Federation of Agriculture President Ron Bonnett issued the following statement following yesterday’s announcement that the Transportation Modernization Act has received final approval in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

“The Canadian Federation of Agriculture commends parliamentarians for working together to pass Bill C-49, a critical piece of legislation that will alleviate many of western farmers’ concerns on rail transportation.

Overview

Livestock Rabies Vaccination Requirements

As of July 1, 2018, all livestock “for which a rabies vaccine licenced for use in Canada is available” shall be immunized against rabies with the exception being made for only livestock “that is accessible only to the person or persons who are responsible for the care and control of such animal”. To clarify the livestock rabies vaccination requirements for livestock producers, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided responses to questions submitted by OFA in the attached expanded Q&A document. Reasonable measures restricting the general public’s access to livestock at events such as farm tours, fall fairs, auctions, etc. can be implemented such that the exemption from the livestock vaccination requirement would apply. OFA has requested the government postpone the July 1st effective date to allow for time to amend the wording of Ontario Regulation 567.

Overview

Ontario farm businesses are required to navigate through a number of unique tax situations. From selling crops or livestock to passing the farm down to the next generation, almost every decision made by farmers has some type of tax implication. Farmers pay taxes to all three levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal) and the tax policies that governments enact has implications for farmers. OFA continues to work with all three levels of government, to ensure the government tax policies recognizes the unique structures and needs of farm businesses. The following information will guide you through the major tax policies impacting Ontario farmers, and the changes that OFA continues to advocate for.

OTTAWA, April 30 – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) welcomes news that Transport Minister Marc Garneau has supported several key Senate amendments to Bill C-49 and that the House of Commons will soon be ready to vote on the revised legislation.

With spring seeding already underway, farmers are now making plans for marketing and delivering their 2018-2019 crop. The new legislation must be in place by August 1; otherwise farmers risk another uncertain shipping season. The amended Bill C-49 will strengthen the capacity of the rail system and help to prevent the disastrous and costly grain backlogs seen this past year and in 2013-2014.

Overview

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act regulates everything from vehicle licensing and classifications to load restrictions and transportation issues. There are many regulations within the Highway Traffic Act that can affect the business of farming as they relate to traveling roadways with tractors, equipment and trucks. It’s the farm owner and equipment operator’s responsibility to know the rules of the road that apply to farm equipment, self-propelled vehicles, load restrictions, licensing and towing requirements.

April 26, 2018, OTTAWA – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture and its members representing prairie farmers today sent an open letter to Members of Parliament asking them to pass Bill C-49 (Transportation Modernization Act) as amended by the Senate last month.

CFA is working in close partnership with the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and Keystone Agricultural Producers of Manitoba to gain support for important changes that will help avert railway shipping backlogs, like the one grain farmers have been struggling through over the last five months.

Overview

Many policies impacting the agri-food sector are established by provincial and federal governments. But there are still plenty of decisions being made at municipal levels that can support agriculture. Land use policies, taxation and development charges, financial support and community engagement are all opportunities for municipalities to support agricultural economic development in their communities.

Municipal support is essential to agricultural economic development, and with their support, Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food businesses will continue to grow and prosper to meet the Premier’s Challenge.

OFA Position

OFA continues to work with municipal councils and organizations to ensure agriculture has a strong voice on issues, legislation and regulations covered by municipal governments.

More information related to Municipal Government on the OFA website.

Overview

The Ontario government has formally announced the process for the build of a High-Speed Rail (HSR) system for Southwestern Ontario. The recent Ontario budget provided for an $11 billion investment for Phase One, which would connect London and Toronto by 2025.

The full High-Speed Rail line would eventually be completed to Windsor for a construction cost of $21 billion. The 250 km/h train would be part of an expanded public transit system including a GO Regional Express Rail (RER) project to expand two-way service across the GO rail network. A number of GO’s current lines only operate into Toronto in the morning and return in the afternoon.

Fast, efficient and cost-effective public transportation is vital to both rural and urban Ontario. Improved rail transportation is one piece of a comprehensive, integrated transportation system for all of Ontario.

Wellington Federation of Agriculture

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Thank you to OFA's Proud to Lead and Farm Credit Canada for their financial support towards our website design.