Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Suzanne Armstrong, CFFO Director of Research/Manager of Board & Committee Services
Government regulation is a fact of life doing business here in Ontario. The regulatory system may feel like a river, constantly changing, and at times overwhelming. But farmers also know that regulations have their benefits for farm businesses. Regulations help ensure quality standards, strengthening market access for Canadian farm products around the world. Regulations protect the safety of our agricultural system by controlling the spread of disease among livestock, for example. Regulations also support a vibrant farm economy, such as through marketing regulations.
Farmers are hearing more and more that they need to directly engage with consumers through social media to get the message out about the reality of how food is produced today. Now farmers have an opportunity through the web to make their voices heard directly to government regarding the reality of regulations on the ground for farm businesses.
As part of the Ontario government’s Business Growth Initiative, the public has an opportunity through the “Red Tape Challenge” to give direct feedback to government on 171 regulations all relating to the Food Processing Sector. Many of these regulations directly impact farmers and farm businesses. The CFFO especially encourages owners of farm businesses of all sizes to comment on those regulations most relevant to them.
Aside from the Food Processing Sector, the challenge will be extended to Automotive Parts Manufacturing, Financial Services, Mining, Chemical Manufacturing, and Forestry. Within the Food Processing Sector, regulations open for comment include those on Food Oversight, Food Marketing, Corporate and Commercial Law, Land Use and Planning, Employment and Labour, Occupational Health and Safety, Taxation and Financial Reporting, and Environmental regulations. The Food Processing Red Tape Challenge opened for comments on Aug 2, and will be open until Sept 30, 2016athttp://talks.ontario.ca/
It is clear that some are treating this platform as a soapbox to express their political views on issues like animal welfare or supply management. Others have left very thoughtful comments indicating when regulations are helpful, or how they might be improved. Because of the open nature of the forum, farmers need to make sure their voices are heard. It may be just as important to voice positive support for beneficial regulations as it is to point out areas for improvement.
Farmers know their businesses best, and are well positioned to let government know which regulations are benefitting their businesses, which can be improved, and which are hindering success. The CFFO will also be commenting as part of this consultation, but we encourage individual members to take part in this new form of direct consultation.