Skip to Main Content

Ontario farm leaders meet with provincial politicians

Posted in Equestrian News, Home Page articles, horse-shows-clinics

the rider news sunset two horses and a rider

OFA Viewpoint.

By Ethan Wallace, Executive Member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Taxation, support for local food, and rural infrastructure needs will be on the agenda this week as Ontario farmers head to Toronto to meet with provincial politicians as part of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)’s government outreach efforts at Queen’s Park.

As an advocacy organization, OFA has ongoing meetings and communications with provincial ministers, political staff and bureaucrats on issues that are important to the agriculture sector and rural communities. At the local level, many OFA members also regularly meet with the MPP from their ridings.

It’s not as often, however, that we have the chance to sit down face-to-face with a broader spectrum of provincial politicians from all major political parties, including those who represent urban ridings without any rural constituents or connections.

An in-person meeting, for example, with an MPP from a downtown Toronto riding is a unique opportunity for both sides to learn about what matters to the other – and we often discover that we have more in common than we think. Housing, homelessness and food insecurity aren’t just urban issues; by comparison, roads, bridges and social infrastructure don’t just need attention in rural Ontario.

I’m a dairy farmer near Lake Huron and as someone very passionate about our industry, I look forward every year to this opportunity to share that passion, make connections and show how the OFA can be an important ally on issues like housing, healthcare, jobs, food security and climate change.

This will be my third time participating in OFA’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park, and while I always enjoy the official meetings with MPPs, the end of day reception also offers the opportunity for more informal conversations.

It was at that reception last year that I got talking with an urban MPP who had met with some of my OFA colleagues earlier in the day and he had a newfound understanding of agriculture and why our sector matters to Ontario. For me, that’s the reason why we do this – to build that awareness and make those connections with people we wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to meet.

As in previous years, the OFA team will be joined at Queen’s Park this year by younger farmers who are also emerging leaders in our industry. It’s an opportunity for elected officials to also hear from younger, grassroots voices and for the next generation of leaders to experience advocacy and outreach firsthand.

In fact, my own first participation in this event was as a young leader in 2021 and it’s that experience that helped convince me to let my name stand for a provincial director position later that year.

So what are the burning issues on the minds of farmers this spring that we’ll be taking to Queen’s Park?

Taxation: the burden of the federal carbon tax and the added costs it places on farm businesses and food production is significant. Provincially, we also struggle with development charges on farm buildings, the need for updates to critical farm tax programs to reflect modern agriculture, the regulatory and financial challenges of agricultural wash water and storm water systems.

Supporting local food: long-term protection of our ability to produce our own food is essential. That means ensuring farmland stays farmland and investing in tools like the Risk Management Program so farmers can weather the ups and downs of climate change and the global economy. It also means supporting soil health and water stewardship and addressing the ongoing labour shortage in Ontario agriculture, which costs an estimated $591 million a year in lost sales.

Investing in rural physical and social infrastructure: Rural Ontario needs affordable, reliable and sustainable energy; highspeed internet; and well-maintained roads and bridges to fuel growth and keep businesses competitive. We also struggle with extended emergency room closures, delayed medical testing and treatments and limited access to home care supports, retirement living and nursing home spaces.

Source: Ontario Federation of Agriculture

What Our Clients Think

Sign Up For Our Digital Edition

Take The Rider With You Everywhere.

Get Our Digital Edition

905.387.1900 Contact