This week’s guest commentary comes from Mark Wales, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)
Ontario agriculture will be watching Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food Kathleen Wynne closely this week as she represents our agri-food industry at the national agriculture ministers’ meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. An annual event, this face to face meeting is a chance for agriculture ministers from each province and territory to discuss concerns affecting their respective jurisdictions and issues impacting agriculture on a national level.
In preparation for the strategic session, Premier Wynne upheld a longstanding tradition of consulting Ontario agricultural commodity and industry groups to identify issues and concerns for the national discussion. Wynne met with representatives from Ontario’s entire agri-food value chain – producers, buyers, processors and input suppliers – to identify challenges impacting our industry. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) participated in this grassroots gathering to ensure our key issues are on the table. Collectively, the group advised Wynne on concerns to be covered with her provincial, federal and territorial counterparts. Three of the most important issues include border harmonization between Canada and the US for product registration and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the importance of insurance-based risk management programs and recent cuts to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research programs. OFA and industry representatives look forward to the Minister reporting back, following the Halifax national meeting.
The OFA is relying on Premier Wynne to continue her strong role as chief advocate for Ontario’s agri-food industry. Among her colleagues, Wynne will have the opportunity to highlight the prominent place agriculture has in fueling Ontario’s overall economy. And with the added voice of Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Rural Affairs at the national meeting, the profile of agriculture and rural Ontario will be elevated even more.
This year Ontario has the biggest presence at the national ministers’ meeting with Wynne participating as both Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food, and the presence of our Minister of Rural Affairs. The OFA has high hopes and broad expectations for the prominent place that Ontario agriculture will have at the discussion table.