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Securing a need for federal risk management


April 11, 2011
By Bette Jean Crews Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Topics

April 11, 2011 – In less
than a month Canadians will cast their ballot to determine who will form our
next federal government. As farmers, we need to stress to each candidate the
importance of the farm vote and insist our collective voice is heard in
government.

April 11, 2011 – In less
than a month Canadians will cast their ballot to determine who will form our
next federal government. As farmers, we need to stress to each candidate the
importance of the farm vote and insist our collective voice is heard in
government.

The new government can
have a significant positive impact on the sustainability of Canada’s farm and
food industry. Farmers and consumers alike should be concerned if any party
does not recognize that the future of food production is an important issue to
all Canadians. Working in partnership with the Ontario Agriculture
Sustainability Coalition
, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is adamant that
the new government take immediate action to preserve local food production and
ensure a sustainable and profitable future for all sectors of farming and all
Canadians.  

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The first step is to
commit to transfer payments that will enable predictable and bankable programs
in each province for our farmers to insure against market fluctuation. Just
last month Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada released three reports about the
future of Canada’s agriculture sector. The reports gave glowing reviews of net
farm incomes projected for 2010. However, these numbers were much higher than
AAFC had previously predicted; a previous AAFC report on the Ontario Net Farm
Income for 2010 predicted a devastating loss of $500 million. It clearly points
to the extreme unpredictability and volatility our industry faces each day.

Agriculture is one of
few industries that cannot adequately mitigate its risks. Our success hinges on
many external pressures: increased fuel costs will increase our production
costs; extreme weather patterns can impact our yields; our commodities are at
the mercy of market fluctuations; and the list goes on and on.  

We fought hard to
advocate for change at the provincial level and are proud to say that it
worked. Earlier this month, the Ontario government tabled their annual budget
and announced full support for permanent risk management programs to safeguard
our farmers from these unmanageable risks. But that will only cover 40 per cent of the
public cost for adequate programs, and without support at the federal level,
the remaining burden is left for farmers. That is not acceptable. Agriculture
is a federal and provincial responsibility – farmers are in, and the province
is in; now it’s the federal government’s turn to act.

The new federal
government must provide the transfers needed to secure a program that will work
for each province according to the needs of that province. Current Growing
Forward
programs simply do not deliver what is needed. OFA asks each candidate
and all parties to support the new programs and commit to transfers that will
address the unique needs of our farmers from province to province.

We cannot do it alone. We
urge you – Ontario’s farm families – to make our vote count in this federal
election to ensure that agriculture concerns are top of mind. Be sure to visit www.farmersmatter.ca/petition
to pledge your commitment to making farming and food production a key electoral
issue in this year’s federal election. While it’s a shame that support for our
farmers has become an election issue, each of us has the opportunity to raise
awareness for the issues that matter most to us for a profitable future for our
families. If we work together, our voice can be heard.