Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Keith Currie, OFA President
As the snow flies, the temperatures drop and the holiday season approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on this year that is wrapping up. For the Ontario agriculture industry, it’s been a year of challenges and opportunities. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has advocated on many critical issues to continue to push for the policies and activities that will help our 36,000 farm members operate profitable and sustainable farm businesses.
There has been a lot of activity on energy. Rising electricity costs are putting many of our members in very challenging situations. OFA has been meeting with the provincial government to explain that our members are at a competitive disadvantage because of the price of this important farm input. We’ve continued to push for natural gas expansion throughout Ontario as one opportunity to alleviate long-term energy costs. By now, we hope you’ve heard about our partnership with wardens across Ontario to strengthen our voice for a rural natural gas investment.
Under the energy banner, we’ve made some important progress on stray voltage with OFA’s participation in a new initiative to address and resolve this trouble challenge that has haunted livestock producers for years.
OFA also provided a formal submission with our ideas and requirements for the province’s next Long-Term Energy Plan – to maintain a reliable supply of clean, affordable energy.
Climate change is another important issue for all Canadians that OFA has been working on to ensure agriculture has opportunities to be part of the long-term solutions, and is recognized for the environmental initiatives that already take place on most Ontario farms.
Maintaining productive relationships with politicians and policymakers continues to be a key function of OFA. In 2016, we seized several opportunities to engage with government to keep agriculture top of mind. We invite politicians to experience a working farm at our annual Field Day event, and at other county federation activities. We also take every opportunity to meet with them at Queen’s Park at events and caucus meetings. Keeping an open path for constructive communications with government is key to OFA’s advocacy work, and it means we all need to look for opportunities to have a conversation about what matters to Ontario agriculture.
2016 marked a very special anniversary for OFA as we celebrated 80 years of serving Ontario agriculture. We are energized and optimistic as we head into a new year with a mission of Farms and Food Forever. This new direction reflects the evolving goals of the organization as we advocate for the needs of our farms and the food we produce.
As 2016 comes to a close, we hope you find time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from OFA.