Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Don McCabe, OFA President
Agriculture received several nods in the federal budget announced on March 22. Farmers across Canada welcomed the Liberal government’s commitments to invest in agricultural research, expand rural broadband and improve infrastructure in our rural communities.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), along with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), is closely reviewing the budget announcements, assessing each budgetary item to determine how it will impact the agriculture and agri-food industry, and develop our plans to work with the government on rolling the investments into rural Ontario quickly.
In the lead up to the federal budget, OFA called on the federal government to increase investments in research, rural broadband and infrastructure. We’re pleased to see these areas were all reflected in the budget.
Here are some of the details in the budget announcements that impact the agriculture sector.
More support for agricultural research. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $30 million over six years to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to support modern agricultural science in Canada including advanced research in agricultural genomics. In addition, federal laboratories and other related facilities supporting science, research and innovation will receive up to $139 million over the same six-year time frame.
Improved rural broadband. Up to $500 million over five years will be available to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities. Better broadband is absolutely essential for conducting business in our high tech commerce world. OFA is eagerly awaiting more details on this new program – that are expected in the coming months – to be sure rural Ontario is included in the plan.
Action on climate change. In an effort to build capacity in municipalities to address climate change, Budget 2016 has allocated $75 million for local governments to support municipality-led projects to identify and implement greenhouse gas reduction opportunities. OFA is anxious to work with the federal government on climate change investments in agriculture that reduce carbon emissions and improve research on clean technologies.
The government has a lot of work ahead of them to deliver this ambitious budget. We all share a responsibility to make sure federal investments are spent wisely. OFA will be working closely with the federal government and CFA to ensure rural Ontario receives sufficient investment to grow our agriculture and food industries.