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. We are a powerhouse for the province, making tremendous contributions to the prosperity of all Ontarians.
GUELPH, ON [December 9, 2019] – Three leading agri-food organizations came together at Queen’s Park to highlight growth opportunities for food production and processing, explain the significant economic impact of the sector and outline necessary infrastructure investments to expand the industry. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), together with the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA) and Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO) presented the state of Ontario’s agri-food sector to representatives at Queen’s Park today.
“The agri-food industry is a powerhouse for the province. When you consider key economic indicators – contributing more than $47 billion to Ontario’s GDP and supporting $8.1 billion in annual wages and salaries – our industry is making tremendous contributions to the prosperity of all Ontarians,” says OFA President Keith Currie.
OFA outlined the challenges the agri-food sector in Ontario and across Canada faced in 2019. Market disruptions, trade issues, labour disputes and weather have made it a difficult year for most farmers and OFA members. Despite the challenges of the 2019 season, OFA noted progress on agricultural files with the provincial government – announcements on red tape reduction, natural gas expansion, broadband infrastructure, the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act and the latest Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act. “Working together, we can unlock continued economic growth and opportunities for agri-food and our rural communities,” says Currie.
Dave Buttenham, CEO of OABA remarked on recent government announcements that have supported their members, including red tape reduction and proposed changes to modernize the Ontario Pesticides Act. Buttenham also outlined necessary regulatory changes to enable agri-business to continue to grow and remain competitive. “The agri-business sector is a key stakeholder in the agri-food value chain, with over 340 member firms providing essential products and services to over 40,000 farmers in the province on a daily basis,” says Buttenham. “The sector is proud to partner with their Ontario farm customers in the production of safe and nutritious food with a direct emphasis on food safety, animal welfare, environmental sustainability and farm profitability.
“It is through our supply chain partners and positive relations with this government that the food and beverage manufacturing industry in Ontario will thrive,” says Norm Beal, CEO, Food and Beverage Ontario “Together, we can find the right solutions to achieving a competitive environment for businesses and an excellent quality of life for the people of Ontario.”
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer.
Ontario Agri Business Association
The Ontario Agri Business Association is an industry association representing over 340 member locations in operating in the crop input supply, grain elevator and animal feed manufacturing sector. The sector provides direct employment to over 8,000 Ontarians, and contributes over $4 billion in direct economic output annually to the Ontario economy. Member firms provide essential products and services to Ontario farms that play a key role in the production of safe and nutritious food.
Food and Beverage Ontario
Food and Beverage Ontario is a non-profit, leadership organization representing all types and sizes of food and beverage manufacturing businesses in the province. Our focus is on the success and growth of the sector by advancing industry priorities with stakeholders and government.
Looking to start a new business? Looking for help with an existing business? There are available resources in Wellington County to help you out. Two local organizations, Wellington Waterloo Community Futures https://www.wwcf.ca/ and Saugeen Economic Development Corporation https://sbdc.ca/ offer similar resources and are there to help. Loans are available in addition to other resources
Did you know that Wellington County residents are now able to use a ridesharing service? This service is available to all Wellington County residents, even in the rural areas, and you are picked up at your door!
Info here https://www.wellington.ca/en/business/ed-ridewell.aspx
On February 24th, WFA Past President Gord Flewwelling presented a $750 cheque to the Norwell District Secondary School LEAF (Local Environment Agriculture & Food) Program. This is a Specialist High Skills Major Course at Norwell. To find out more about the LEAF program https://www.ugdsb.ca/norwell/specialty-programs-2/leaf/
GUELPH, ON [January 24, 2019] – The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is encouraged by the provincial government’s decision to remove Schedule 10 from the proposed Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. This movement signals the government’s willingness to listen to the concerns of Ontario agriculture.
Schedule 10 proposed an amendment to the provincial Planning Act that would have given municipalities the ability to pass bylaw changes that could use primary farmland for any type of development. Schedule 10 was part of the government’s open-for-business bylaws.
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!
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.”