Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Recent events affecting Ontario agr posted here and elsewhere makes one question just where this industry is headed and what it will look like in a decade. One thing for certain is that despite ad nauseum "consultations" over the past decade, current federal and provincial agr policy is certainly inadequate to deal with the multiple stresses affecting us. Compounding this reality is a complete lack of vision or leadership at the highest decision making levels at both levels of government. Whether tobacco, viniculture, processing vegetable, beef, hog, grains and oilseeds, and now tender fruit the current reality is anything but stable or rosy towards the future. Please forgive my cynicsm but what type of industry do members here envision?

I have witnessed the complete dismantling of our tobacco industry in favour of buying another year or two of peace with our natives. This was an easy fait accompli helped along by a ignorant public buying into the anti smoking rhetoric. I farm in the immediate vicinty of a number of smoke shacks...there is definitely no reduction amongst our teenagers over the years!

A government monopoly over all alcohol sales in the province and still we have 70% foreign juice blends sold in the Canadian section. Makes a mockery of the public dollars spent on Local Food and Foodland Ontario initiatives, no?

Ontario becoming a dumping ground for PQ hogs with narry a peep from our Agr Minister while the Premier gushes about his new trade agreement with Quebec is shameful. Ontario corn farmers can empathize with dumped product.

Etc. etc. But how did we allow ourselves to get here? Have we become that marginalized by society? What will it take to bring us back and restore our pride in this industry? What, and who, will be leading this industry in a decade? I have my ideas, what are yours?

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Steve: its not that agriculture is becoming irrelevant, we have absolutely zero leadership at both the federal and provincial level and the management of agriculture by our ministers is even worse as witnessed by Minister Ritz's remarks below.

Isn't it time we requested a real minister at the cabinet table to represent farmers in Ontario? Someone that knows at least something about agriculture, someone that cares about the viability of farmers and their rights. That would be a refreshing change and a good place to start.


http://www.hursh.ca/
Hursh on Agriculture

November 8, 2009

Ritz needs his canola facts straight
A front page story in the November 5 edition of the Manitoba Cooperator newspaper doesn’t cast a flattering light on our federal agriculture minister. The story is by reporter Allan Dawson and it’s about the Chinese blockage of Canadian canola due to concerns over blackleg. According to the story, agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said that he told Chinese officials that they needn’t fear their farmers growing Canadian canola because the seed won’t grow. The direct quote by Ritz in the paper is, “I assured them that with the varieties we have now, it’s not going to work because they all have Terminator seeds in them, it’s all genetically modified to get the oil quantity up.” The fact is that Terminator technology is not being used and seed will of course germinate and grow. That’s why canola readily volunteers the year following a crop. It is true that with hybrid varieties, the seed won’t produce as good a crop. However, the comments by Ritz seem to indicate that he has a lot of misconceptions about canola production. If that’s the case, he needs to be better briefed before spreading misinformation to foreign officials. There’s a lot to know about all the different sectors of agriculture and we all have misconceptions. Gerry Ritz should have people around him to help avoid making such errors. I’m Kevin Hursh.
AMEN Joann!!! At the risk of sounding like a recent provincial columnist, we DO have a ON Min of Agr that has left a tremendous mark on the ON agr scene. To bad her legacy will be one of a tremendously downsized and uncompetitive industry....but the "safest in the world" for the few consumers that care about these sorts of things! Thank you for the Ritz comment....SAD and SHAMEFUL!
Really interesting discussion.

My experience of the last few years tells me that government is deathly afraid of farmers really pushing back. However, since they can pretty much count on a great swath of Ontario's farmers to not do that they feel pretty safe to do what they want.

People often point to Quebec as some kind of example for Ontario. They focus on the single farm organization. When they do that they are entirely missing the point of the Quebec experience. What happens in Quebec is all about Quebec farmers militancy AND the place in the Quebec 'national' identity farmers hold. Feeding itself, and the self-reliance of the Quebecois are all bound up in how Quebec views its farmers. It is a fundamental difference than in Ontario and that should be the lesson we learn from Quebec. How they run their farm organizations is really irrelevant in that.
That is very true Grant. The people in Quebec have a motto: Je me souviens which means "I remember".

The Quebec farmers have strong representation for a number of reasons and the root lies in remember their rights, duties and responsibilities to the people of the province.

In Ontario we are led to believe that the government has the authority to do as it wishes in regards to agriculture. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The real difference is our minister, many will say, is ineffective to the point of irrelevance. Mr. McGuinty has had a firm hand on agriculture since becoming Premier. Agriculture has SOVEREIGN rights and as McGuinty is a lawyer, he is well aware of those rights but chooses to run rampant on those rights.


As mentioned earlier, agriculture is defined as a class of people that till the soil and/or raise stock. Agriculture is not a zoning. Agriculture is not an industry. Agriculture is about a special class of perople, the farmer, with skills applied to natural resources.

The Minister of Agriculture has an obligation to farmers first and foremost. Not to real estate. Not to industry.

Peter Drucker said: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Yes Steve, I heard that we have a minister for agriculture, but for all I know that is an urban legend. IF we have a minister then she is failing on both counts of management and leadership and absolutely ignoring the people she is suppose to represent.
I would suggest that instead of being cynical, dis-heartened and negative that we as an industry need to look for new ways of doing things...what about the eat local movement where producers are getting higher margins as consumers are being educated about the benefits of buying locally?

There are many people out there, including myself, with a great amount of pride in the industry and as for leaders, just take a look at the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program www.aalp.on.ca as a great example of those positive members of our industry trying to make a difference.

I am not so niave to believe that the industry is perfect, we have many issues...
But thinking we are defeated before we even start can't be a good place to start!

Sara
I am not sure how to respond to that...Agriculture is clearly an industry, one of the biggest in Ontario.
It is not just about the producer but also the supplier and processing sides of things where many many people are employed as well.

But I think I understand what you are saying as well Joann. We definately can't take agriculture for granted and those that are not aware that "Farmers Feed Cities" need to be educated about what a great, sustainable and environmentally sound ways in which our food is produced. I also agree that everyone must know their rights, in order to protect themselves and their businesses but you aren't saying that anyone has a "right" to farm are you?

I would respond saying that is not true...farming is a business that one or many run with many specialized skills just as a carpenter or a hairdresser or a lawyer or whatever profession you choose, and in running that business one must decide how to make a profit in order to keep that business going, a business that they are hopefully very passionate about...and what greater thing is there than making a living at something you are passionate about?!

Thanks,

Sara
Your response clearly shows the true weaknesses in agriculture Sara. But don't feel disheartened....the truth about agricultural rights in Ontario has been... still is ... an complete challenge to unearth and expose.

Yes, I am saying that farmers have unique and constitutionally protected rights... to farm... to production. Ask the minister of OMAFRA. If she is willing, she will point out the clauses in the constitution. If she is willing, she will explain the real meaning of property rights in the first Act of Ontario. But....from her response.... it appears she is not willing.

If you look up the official definition of agriculture you will then understand it is NOT and industry. It is NOT a zoning. It is actually a class of people with skills.

Confucius wrote: “If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.” That is a simple truth.

Agriculture has constitutionally protected rights to trade... trade means commerce... which means marketing. Marketing includes the right to transport on EVERY road in Ontario.

Agriculture in Ontario is under contractual obligations to QE2.

Hairdressing, car manufacturing, toy making, etc are not under contractual obligations to the Crown.

Agriculture is part of a Covenant Chain that Mr. McGuinty is leery to explain.

That means as farmers we have sovereign rights, duties and obligations that are truly unique in Ontario.

The UN has stated that all countries MUST respect Sovereignty. That means Mr. McGuinty must respect the sovereign rights on Ontario farmers.

If you wish to protect the future of agriculture then I would suggest that one should delve in the past to understand how we got here in the first place...... a good place to start is the Crown Land Patents Office in Peterborough to find your original land patent... your contract with the Crown.

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