Date: August 22, 2011
Agriculture makes the election agenda
By Bette Jean Crews, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Key politicians from each of the three provincial parties confirmed this week that agriculture is a priority in each of their election platforms for the upcoming provincial election.
The Policy Advisory Council (PAC) of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) met with party representatives last week to discuss pressing issues facing Ontario farmers. An open forum discussion was held with Liberal candidate and current Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Carol Mitchell, Conservative candidate and critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman and NDP candidate John Vanthof. The meeting provided each party an opportunity to outline their respective platforms, answer questions and discuss agricultural issues.
All candidates were clearly aware of the importance of agriculture to Ontario. The discussion also revealed that the party candidates have an understanding of the main agricultural issues the OFA believes need to be addressed by the next provincial government. One of the key messages driven home to the candidates was that Ontario’s agri-food industry contributes $33 billion to the provincial economy every year and provides jobs for 700,000 people.
OFA’s five key election issues identified by the PAC during its spring regional meetings include environmental stewardship, rural infrastructure, energy policy, risk management programs and regulatory reform. The PAC serves to identify and recommend policy direction to the OFA Board of Directors. The five key election issues were discussed in detail with the parties at last week’s meeting. Members can anticipate updated elections messages that will come out of further discussions by the PAC as they provide recommendations to the OFA Board of Directors. Video clips of the meeting can be viewed on OFA’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/OntarioFarms.
We are calling on all OFA members to get involved and help keep agriculture issues top of mind as the October 6 provincial election approaches. Contact your local candidates and make sure they understand the importance of our industry to all Ontarians.
Getting involved and making your voice heard is easy. OFA has created a provincial election kit that’s available to all members. The kit contains background information and candidate questions on each of the five election issues identified by the OFA. Election kits are available online at ofa.on.ca, from your local county federation of agriculture, by contacting your member service representative or the main OFA office at 1-800-668-3276.
Primary agriculture only represents 1% of Ontario’s population. We’re small in number so our messages have to be delivered by as many individuals as possible to as many candidates as possible. Let’s make sure agriculture is recognized as the important industry it is. Speak up and speak often. Repeat as required until October 6!