Farmers must continue working together for their betterment

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is an organization built for its members.

Each day we work to achieve our mission of securing a sustainable, profitable future for agriculture. We know that there is strength in numbers needed in order to achieve policies and to create a thriving agriculture sector for Ontario’s farm families.

Because farmers register to be a member of the OFA, we will continue to address the key issues and top agriculture concerns our industry faces. Through that support, we have given a voice to Ontario’s farm families on the local, provincial, and national levels and are working in collaboration with farm organizations and industry partners in Ontario and across the country to make our voice heard.

Our work has eliminated land transfer taxes for farms sold within farm families, protected farm businesses from increased property taxes, drove elk and predator damage solutions to the forefront of the agenda, and enabled environmental farm plans and their funding for Ontario farmers. We’ve reinstated original microfit rates for thousands of farmers, partnered with commodity organizations to achieve business risk management programs to cushion market fluctuations, and are investing research efforts into the benefits of biomass energy production at some of Ontario’s largest power generating facilities.

While we are proud of our past 75 years of results in achieving goals for the agriculture industry, we also recognize the importance of looking to the future to maintain that success. Our OFA policy and research team is committed to continually identifying emerging issues that affect your farming operation: from green energy solutions to municipal drainage; predator damage concerns; and all candidates’ meetings at election times.

Over the coming months, our key priorities lie with the future of the agriculture sector. Our work with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is steering the first national food strategy in Canada that will create the policies needed to safeguard our current and future food supply. More information about our work in that area is available at Members are encouraged to read more about how we are working to create sustainable farming practices that will keep our industry profitable well into the future.

We all know the future rests with our next generation. So we are also focusing attention on beginning farmers by setting up a Task Team that aims to identify programs and policies to facilitate the entry of a new generation into the business of farming. Coupled with our Proud to Lead development program, it shows our commitment to the future of farming in Ontario.

We believe working with farmers and with government we will achieve our mission for the farming industry.

Late last year, the OFA filed a pre-budget brief with Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to address the fiscal and policy needs of Ontario’s farm families. In it, we outlined the need for bankable and predictable risk management programs, realistic farm property tax assessments, wildlife damage control and adequate compensation, and many other issues members told the OFA were important to operations. We look forward to positive outcomes in the coming budget on March 29.

But we don’t just offer recommendations to government; we deliver results. Farmers tell us regulations are hurting their businesses. So OFA led the development of an industry-wide position outlining the agri-food sector’s top five regulatory concerns for government and is now working with the affected ministries to fix to those regulatory burdens.

Our ongoing success in securing a sustainable and profitable future for the agriculture sector begins today and relies on the collaborative spirit the OFA has demonstrated over the past 75 years. We thank members for ongoing support through the Farm Business Registration and their dedication to the organization. We look forward to serving you this year, and for years to come.

I urge members to become involved in the issues and policy work we are doing, to get involved at the local county federation, and to voice concerns loudly and often. Without input our mission cannot be achieved. Member support is necessary for the future success of the farm sector. We truly value your participation in the OFA.

Mark Wales is Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture