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As a farmer, what’s your number one issue?

Travelling throughout Ontario, talking to farmers provides people like me, the President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, with an abundance of thoughts on what agriculture’s top 10 issues should be.

Farm income is a sure bet to be at the top of such a list – regardless of what area of the province you are in or what commodity you produce. A farm is a business and what else is more important than the ability to earn a profit to sustain that business?

Most of the issues the OFA tackles for its members relate to the ability to earn a profit. However, they start out looking a lot different in many cases. The OFA deals with issues such as predator controls, property taxes, environmental stewardship, clean water, etc. At the base of these issues, however, is the bottom line on individual farms and what OFA can do to protect or enhance the farm family’s income.

Identifying the issues is just the first part of serving member needs. Once we know the issues, we have to work with commodity and other partners to develop possible solutions.

This is when the real difficult work begins for OFA – getting the proposed solutions to the right people within governments, both elected and appointed, because that’s where proposals are turned into solutions.

While increased financial returns is an obvious answer to farm income issues, OFA has also placed a major emphasis on retaining the income farmers receive. We have done this through improved tax legislation: savings of more than five million dollars on Land Transfer taxes for starting farmers; property tax savings of about 368 million dollars for farmers in general; savings of about six million dollars for Outlet Drains.

Through efforts of OFA and its national partner, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Ontario farmers have benefited from about 585 million dollars received from safety net programs. Farmers in Ontario have also received more than seven million dollars from the Environmental Farm Plan program.

OFA continues to play a lead role as it works with Ontario commodity organizations to bring workable Business Risk Management Programs to fruition for farmers in the beef, pork and horticultural sectors. When this work eventually pays dividends, it will make farming in those sectors more predictable and enjoyable for the farm families involved.

As modern agriculture becomes increasingly knowledge based, the OFA is proud of its staff of researchers and member service representatives (MSRs). These people are available to work with OFA members on issues impacting farm families.

Another key element in the chain of problem solvers and issues confronting farmers is the local federations of agriculture. In most instances, this is where identification of issues and development of solutions begin. When an issue comes up on the farm, the OFA’s MSR and the local federation step up and go to work on possible solutions.

It’s the local federation, in the majority of cases, that initiates a resolution to the OFA’s Board of Directors. When all the necessary fine tuning is done and the resolution passed, the OFA then goes to work getting details in the hands of government – staff and elected levels.

It’s also the local federations the OFA turns to for engagement of the local membership when a mass lobby at Queen’s Park or Parliament Hill is needed to government to act.

Identifying issues facing Ontario farmers is something OFA does almost daily. Planning a course of action has become second nature for OFA. We’re always ready to serve Ontario farmers.

By Bette Jean Crews, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

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

If there is one issue, the above quote captures it all.

Leadership in Ontario agriculture has been abandoned and management is severely in question.
As a cash cropper we deal with a world market compeating with the USA. We use many of the same imputs chem. fert. fuel tires to name a few. In many cases our US neighbours pay far less for these products some are half price in the US. In most cases it is government involvment that makes things more money in Canada. Sometimes it is taxes that adds cost sometimes it is admistration sometimes it is enviromental charges that are the problem. We have enviromental costs in our country but there is no financial recognition for the goods and services farmers provide and are expected to provide for the enviromental good of the people. In the US farmers who provide land and services that are good for the enviroment are recognized with a fair market value financial return. Any help in having these issues adressed would be a good service to provide to farmers.
I agree with Joe....help us keep our expenses competitive with the US....we also need to stay focussed on revenue which is set in the global marketplace and impacted by the Canadian dollar.....the strong dollar is not helping Canadian agriculture.
I have noticed the widening gap between city and country ideas of what a farmer does, how he runs his farm and his farm practicesrs. When I was in the Army we had the same problems of politians dicating how the Army should be run, without have any idea of the effects some of the policies they make. So the defence department had a program for politians to be a soldier for a week. It opened alot of eyes on their side of the fence and on what a soldier had to put up with and the condition he faced. In most cases policies are spoon feed to Politians by staffers and interest groups without knowing the situation on the coal face, on sided. Also the politian from the city when his or her ownly contact with a farmer is a pr shoot, walk pass a cow shed, a whing farmer at Ag show about government policy and a pile of crap on the steps of parliment building. This does not build bridges and understanding.

Throw the chaleage out to the politians, to be a farm hand for a week without all his staffers or media pr factory. Have him or her milk the cows at O dark hundred in the morning, feed the pigs and clean animal stalls, pick the fruit trees, help fix the truck or tractor, herd the sheep and cattle, show him/her the paper work you have to fill out, the inspections. So he/she has a understanding a ground level what goes on.

This how you win support, not sitting in a board room or a hall putting your complaints on a piece of paper, only to be read and filed away.
that people @ all levels listen to their grass roots and stop with their political smooth and correct statements.
the CFFO did go public on the pork industry and developed ideas for a new direction
the NFU did support the appeal hearing held nov./dec.to support the ask to maintain the collective marketing power of our hog industry.
I believe we should not complain without a solution. I also believe we need to look at things in different lights. As for the above brag sheet it is about as relevant as my grandmothers dating diaries …might have something to do with the genetics of today but not much.
In the recent past, much of which was on this OFA presidents watch, we have seen UNPRECEDETED LOSS in the beef industry, hog industry, grain sectors and the loss of the tobacco industry. Never before have we lost as much economically through ENVIROMENTAL DOWNLOAD. Never before have we lost as much through POLITICAL INVATION of our LOSS OF EQUITY THROUGH LOSS OF PROPERTY RIGHTS. Never before have we taken two years to restructure a GFO (and Grain Growers of Ontario) with a goal to be more economically thrifty while achieving almost nothing. (total loss of present WORKABLE SUPPORT PROGRAMS while Quebec gets a 5 yr increase plan)

It has not been my experience to find hired help looking for a wage increase without warranted prior performance or at the very least an agreed vision plan of what I would get for paying more. If circumstances were not so serious in nearly every sector of agriculture it would be downright laughable that immediately after a fee increase leadership is asking what should we do now?

Leadership does not have to ask what we want if they and local directors are listening to what has been and is being said. Leadership does NOT ALLOW STAFF TO DIRECT POLICY that is inconsistent with membership resolutions. Remember AUDIT AND C.O.P RESOLUTIONS (the legally required ones of OFPMC and OMAFRA as yet undone) with a purpose to find ECONOMIC ACCOUNTABILITY AND VIABILITY? It was not the members that rescinded those approved directive resolutions.

Wonder how many will ask for their money back now to put into something BOLD they can see results in. A Woodstock (style) summer BBQ would do us as much good.
Good points, Frank.

I seem to recall the numerous legally passed resolutions from different organizations, OFA among them, to demand complete operational audits of both Agricorp and OFPMC.

While the Minister did direct an audit of Agricorp (with very limited parameters, not even close to what was requested) it would appear the audit of OFPMC has been completely swept aside.

If the OFA is sincere in their request to identify issues, why did they ignore the resolutions to audit OFPMC?

Why is the OFA so afraid to pursue the audits of our "important Public Trusts"?

Is it a lack of leadership or is it a matter of mismanagement?


Frank Burtt said:
I believe we should not complain without a solution. I also believe we need to look at things in different lights. As for the above brag sheet it is about as relevant as my grandmothers dating diaries …might have something to do with the genetics of today but not much.
In the recent past, much of which was on this OFA presidents watch, we have seen UNPRECEDETED LOSS in the beef industry, hog industry, grain sectors and the loss of the tobacco industry. Never before have we lost as much economically through ENVIROMENTAL DOWNLOAD. Never before have we lost as much through POLITICAL INVATION of our LOSS OF EQUITY THROUGH LOSS OF PROPERTY RIGHTS. Never before have we taken two years to restructure a GFO (and Grain Growers of Ontario) with a goal to be more economically thrifty while achieving almost nothing. (total loss of present WORKABLE SUPPORT PROGRAMS while Quebec gets a 5 yr increase plan) It has not been my experience to find hired help looking for a wage increase without warranted prior performance or at the very least an agreed vision plan of what I would get for paying more. If circumstances were not so serious in nearly every sector of agriculture it would be downright laughable that immediately after a fee increase leadership is asking what should we do now?
Leadership does not have to ask what we want if they and local directors are listening to what has been and is being said. Leadership does NOT ALLOW STAFF TO DIRECT POLICY that is inconsistent with membership resolutions. Remember AUDIT AND C.O.P RESOLUTIONS (the legally required ones of OFPMC and OMAFRA as yet undone) with a purpose to find ECONOMIC ACCOUNTABILITY AND VIABILITY? It was not the members that rescinded those approved directive resolutions.

Wonder how many will ask for their money back now to put into something BOLD they can see results in. A Woodstock (style) summer BBQ would do us as much good.
Where is the resolution for the audit of OFPMC? Was it voted on? I am not aware of that one. Was it even sent to OFA?

Joann said:
Good points, Frank.

I seem to recall the numerous legally passed resolutions from different organizations, OFA among them, to demand complete operational audits of both Agricorp and OFPMC.

While the Minister did direct an audit of Agricorp (with very limited parameters, not even close to what was requested) it would appear the audit of OFPMC has been completely swept aside.

If the OFA is sincere in their request to identify issues, why did they ignore the resolutions to audit OFPMC?

Why is the OFA so afraid to pursue the audits of our "important Public Trusts"?

Is it a lack of leadership or is it a matter of mismanagement?


Thank you, Wayne, for asking what seemingly was a simple enough question. It would appear there has been a generous sprinkling of Pearl Powder on the topic of agricultural audits causing mild amnesia with the teleportation of resolutions to another dimension. (well, tongue-in-cheek explanation at best)

The following copy of a resolution was forwarded with the assurance it was passed at the AGM (2 of 3 grain boards, 2007. all 3 commodity boards did pass resolutions calling for audits) of the grain boards.

"Whereas AgriCorp is an agent of the Crown and may exercise its powers only as an agent of the Crown. 1996, c. 17, Sched. A, s. 8.,

Whereas the accounts and financial transactions of AgriCorp shall be audited annually by the Auditor General. 1996, c. 17, Sched. A, s. 13; 2004, c. 17, s. 32.,

Whereas the Minister shall submit the report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and shall then lay the report before the Assembly if it is in session or, if not, at the next session,

Whereas in the recent Provincial Auditor’s determination of the audit of Agricorp there was found to be fully 50% of the files looked at were deficient or inaccurate, therefore putting into question whether the Minister ensured that the proper affirmative fiduciary obligations are met to protect public interests,

Whereas AgriCorp may inquire into any matter relating to its objects and for that purpose has the powers that Part II of the Public Inquiries Act confers on a commission, and that Part applies to the inquiry as if it were an inquiry under that Act. 1996, c. 17, Sched. A, s. 3 (8)

Whereas the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission holds an important 'public trust' in the exercise of its duties and in the supervision of the powers and authorities exercised by marketing boards

Therefore: let is be resolved that a operational and accountability audit of OFPMC (not limited to) be undertaken so as to determine the accountability of communication deficiencies as found by the Provincial Auditor that were not reported by regular ongoing audits of Agricorp or OFPMC and not communicated, reported, corrected or addressed by OFPMC or the minister and so to ensure that the legally required audits are peer reviewed as a substantive right to vindicate public interests."

Confirmed: April 24, 2007, page B14:

A resolution calling for an audit of the Ontario Farm Products
Marketing Commission (OFPMC) did not come before Ontario Federation of
Agriculture (OFA) directors for consideration at last week's board meeting.
During the winter tour of commodity meetings a call for an OFPMC audit was
among the list of several resolutions in circulation, but OFA president Geri
Kamenz said that although the resolution had been presented to the board for
consideration it was pulled from the board agenda after "extensive
discussions" with the people behind the resolution.
Principal among Kamenz's concerns is that he does not want to cause
confusion with the current process that is now underway with respect to an audit of Agricorp.
The OFA endorsed a resolution calling for a value-for-money audit of
Agricorp at the March provincial directors' meeting. They followed that up
with a formal request to Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario's' agriculture minister and
Progressive Conservative (PC) MPP Norm Sterling, as chair of the standing
committee on public accounts, asking them to make a request of the auditor
general to undertake the audit.
Given that a request is now before the minister for the Agricorp audit,
Kamenz does not want to present other audit-type requests at the same time
that could cause confusion. "My approach has always been that you want to be
surgical about what you do (and) don't take a broad brush." He said it is
important to identify problems, deal with the problem and then move on to the
next one. "I think this is nicely in line with that type of approach," he
says.
But Kamenz does not rule it out that the resolution could come back for
consideration. "I've suggested to the proponents that it does have its place,
but timing is as important as the initiative itself,"
he said.

On July 12/07 a presentation was made to the OFA and a hard copy given to the President. The presentation included resolutions to audit Agricorp, OFPMC, OMAFRA, among other information.

But in meeting minutes on Jun.13/07, the President of OFA declared the resolutions to audit OFPMC/OMAFRA would be held off until "Agricorp audit was underway".

It would appear the OFA received many resolutions asking for the audit of OFPMC/OMAFRA but has failed to date to act on them. The audits of OFPMC is still undone.

But the new President is now asking for input, asking farmers to name their top issues.

I fail to see why anyone would respond to such a request as it is apparent the OFA has not followed through in the past. There is no credibility of such a request.


Wayne Black said:
Where is the resolution for the audit of OFPMC? Was it voted on? I am not aware of that one. Was it even sent to OFA?
Joann said:
Good points, Frank.

I seem to recall the numerous legally passed resolutions from different organizations, OFA among them, to demand complete operational audits of both Agricorp and OFPMC. While the Minister did direct an audit of Agricorp (with very limited parameters, not even close to what was requested) it would appear the audit of OFPMC has been completely swept aside.
If the OFA is sincere in their request to identify issues, why did they ignore the resolutions to audit OFPMC?

Why is the OFA so afraid to pursue the audits of our "important Public Trusts"?

Is it a lack of leadership or is it a matter of mismanagement?


Unfortunately Joann a resolution doesn't have to be delt with at the board level, it is a means to bring an issue to their attention. I would suggest that if every resolution sent to OFA was to be acted on our fees would have to double if not more. If you feel strongly about these issues you have your county boards that you can sit on and make sure things happen. The leadership at OFA has not been that great lately, but they are at least asking the question of what needs to be changed. I believe that in times of trouble true leaders show their faces and step up to the challenge. If you set all financial issues aside I think the biggest issue is getting the proper people at the top and getting all commodities to work together. Call it one voice, or one message I think a uniform message from all sides of ag is the best. You stand up for me and I will stand up for you. Nobody or no group is prefect so someone can always pick something apart, but change only happens when you are proactive.

Joann said:
Thank you, Wayne, for asking what seemingly was a simple enough question. It would appear there has been a generous sprinkling of Pearl Powder on the topic of agricultural audits causing mild amnesia with the teleportation of resolutions to another dimension. (well, tongue-in-cheek explanation at best)

The following copy of a resolution was forwarded with the assurance it was passed at the AGM (2 of 3 grain boards, 2007. all 3 commodity boards did pass resolutions calling for audits) of the grain boards.

"Whereas AgriCorp is an agent of the Crown and may exercise its powers only as an agent of the Crown. 1996, c. 17, Sched. A, s. 8.,

Whereas the accounts and financial transactions of AgriCorp shall be audited annually by the Auditor General. 1996, c. 17, Sched. A, s. 13; 2004, c. 17, s. 32.,

Whereas the Minister shall submit the report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and shall then lay the report before the Assembly if it is in session or, if not, at the next session,

Whereas in the recent Provincial Auditor’s determination of the audit of Agricorp there was found to be fully 50% of the files looked at were deficient or inaccurate, therefore putting into question whether the Minister ensured that the proper affirmative fiduciary obligations are met to protect public interests,

Whereas AgriCorp may inquire into any matter relating to its objects and for that purpose has the powers that Part II of the Public Inquiries Act confers on a commission, and that Part applies to the inquiry as if it were an inquiry under that Act. 1996, c. 17, Sched. A, s. 3 (8)

Whereas the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission holds an important 'public trust' in the exercise of its duties and in the supervision of the powers and authorities exercised by marketing boards

Therefore: let is be resolved that a operational and accountability audit of OFPMC (not limited to) be undertaken so as to determine the accountability of communication deficiencies as found by the Provincial Auditor that were not reported by regular ongoing audits of Agricorp or OFPMC and not communicated, reported, corrected or addressed by OFPMC or the minister and so to ensure that the legally required audits are peer reviewed as a substantive right to vindicate public interests."

Confirmed: April 24, 2007, page B14:

A resolution calling for an audit of the Ontario Farm Products
Marketing Commission (OFPMC) did not come before Ontario Federation of
Agriculture (OFA) directors for consideration at last week's board meeting.
During the winter tour of commodity meetings a call for an OFPMC audit was
among the list of several resolutions in circulation, but OFA president Geri
Kamenz said that although the resolution had been presented to the board for
consideration it was pulled from the board agenda after "extensive
discussions" with the people behind the resolution.
Principal among Kamenz's concerns is that he does not want to cause
confusion with the current process that is now underway with respect to an audit of Agricorp.
The OFA endorsed a resolution calling for a value-for-money audit of
Agricorp at the March provincial directors' meeting. They followed that up
with a formal request to Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario's' agriculture minister and
Progressive Conservative (PC) MPP Norm Sterling, as chair of the standing
committee on public accounts, asking them to make a request of the auditor
general to undertake the audit.
Given that a request is now before the minister for the Agricorp audit,
Kamenz does not want to present other audit-type requests at the same time
that could cause confusion. "My approach has always been that you want to be
surgical about what you do (and) don't take a broad brush." He said it is
important to identify problems, deal with the problem and then move on to the
next one. "I think this is nicely in line with that type of approach," he
says.
But Kamenz does not rule it out that the resolution could come back for
consideration. "I've suggested to the proponents that it does have its place,
but timing is as important as the initiative itself,"
he said.

On July 12/07 a presentation was made to the OFA and a hard copy given to the President. The presentation included resolutions to audit Agricorp, OFPMC, OMAFRA, among other information.

But in meeting minutes on Jun.13/07, the President of OFA declared the resolutions to audit OFPMC/OMAFRA would be held off until "Agricorp audit was underway".

It would appear the OFA received many resolutions asking for the audit of OFPMC/OMAFRA but has failed to date to act on them. The audits of OFPMC is still undone.

But the new President is now asking for input, asking farmers to name their top issues.

I fail to see why anyone would respond to such a request as it is apparent the OFA has not followed through in the past. There is no credibility of such a request.


Wayne Black said:
Where is the resolution for the audit of OFPMC? Was it voted on? I am not aware of that one. Was it even sent to OFA?
Joann said:
Good points, Frank.

I seem to recall the numerous legally passed resolutions from different organizations, OFA among them, to demand complete operational audits of both Agricorp and OFPMC. While the Minister did direct an audit of Agricorp (with very limited parameters, not even close to what was requested) it would appear the audit of OFPMC has been completely swept aside.
If the OFA is sincere in their request to identify issues, why did they ignore the resolutions to audit OFPMC?

Why is the OFA so afraid to pursue the audits of our "important Public Trusts"?

Is it a lack of leadership or is it a matter of mismanagement?


that is right a resolution is only a motion of recommendation to a board, It happens to many times like in this case that the wishes of the people/members get ignored
nice to see Kamenz being the chair of the OFPMC however there is hope we have a new minister of Agric.,
Joann,

Please forgive me for being ignorant to the matter but I ask again in a different format - was the resolution brought up infront of the board and voted on?
Until that happens the OFA (or any organization for that matter that has a Board of Directors and such) will probably not act on a resolution.
As I had to explain to a person the other day - I do not act upon every single issue that comes across my computer or desk until it is dealt with at the Board. Some issues come from non-members which, in my opinion, why would I act on them? Some issues come from people who are not aware that an organization has probably already looked after the issue. This past week I had one member call up with four issues - non of which I can act upon because he does not want to come to the Board with any of the issues and explain them. If the issue is big enough I would have more than one person call me about the issue. 2000 members and 200 issues. Let's find some common ground and move forward on 20 issues.
Like a lot of other issues though - when non-members criticize an organization for not acting on a perceived issue...


Joann said:
Thank you, Wayne, for asking what seemingly was a simple enough question. It would appear there has been a generous sprinkling of Pearl Powder on the topic of agricultural audits causing mild amnesia with the teleportation of resolutions to another dimension. (well, tongue-in-cheek explanation at best)
I fail to see why anyone would respond to such a request as it is apparent the OFA has not followed through in the past. There is no credibility of such a request.

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