Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

OFA: Mark Wales, Leading The Way For The Future Of Food.

By Mark Wales, Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture

The Globe and Mail recently published a poignant feature on eight key issues Canadians need to talk about now to become leaders for the future. One of which is the future of food.

The series tackled sensitive food topics in Canada, such as lack of foreign food inspections, country of origin labelling, corporate buyouts for family farms, genetic modification and the local food movement. The area most concerning however asked whether Canada is equipped to maintain its position as a leading agricultural supplier.

Agriculture has always been a thriving industry in Canada, with our farmers being recognized as leaders in the agriculture sector globally. But over the past 15 years, that image has changed. Canada has dropped from third to ninth as a global food exporter and Brazil recently replaced Canada as the third largest exporter of agricultural product behind the U.S. and the European Union.

Another concern is Canada’s strengthening dollar. Rising dollar value in Canada is causing our farmers to lose market share in the global agriculture economy and the debt-to-loan ratio for farmers is rising as a result.

The time is now to start implementing solutions that will safeguard our agriculture sector and food supply to reinstate Canada’s role as a global food producer.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is working closely with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture to establish new opportunities to secure Canada’s agriculture future through the National Food Strategy. The objectives of the Strategy are to begin building a profitable foundation for the future of our farm sector now to ensure that we have plans in place for tackling larger populations and resulting food shortages in the future. At this stage public consultation is vital in order to reduce red-tape in the government regulatory process, influence technology innovations, and identify opportunities to promote Canada’s products as the foremost choice for Canadian dinner tables. We aim to have a working National Food Strategy available within a year that will be used by government and the agri-food sector when creating new policies that will secure a profitable and sustainable future for Canadian farmers.

The CFA recently launched www.nationalfoodstrategy.ca to provide Canadians with an outline of the National Food Strategy and a clear vision for what it could achieve for the agriculture community.

We also have an opportunity to demonstrate the value of food in Canada. Too often, we take our food supply for granted thinking food will always be available to feed our nation. However, a predicted population boom to 9.2 billion by 2050 will result in a mass food shortage around the world – this is a call-to-action to find ways to add more value to our food supply today, and bring more attention to the potential food shortage of the future.

If we continue to collaborate with our partners and work together to establish a vision for Canada’s future, we have the potential to make a significant contribution to Canada’s role as a top food producer globally.

For those who have not had a chance to see the “Time to Lead” series, we encourage you to visit the Globe and Mail online to view videos, read the articles and see comments from Canadians on the issue. It’s time to ask yourself what kind of future you envision for you and your family. It’s not enough to sit back and wait for catastrophe before we act. The time is now to find new avenues together to secure a sustainable future for farming.

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Comment by Joann on December 29, 2010 at 3:05pm

Your commentary, Mr. Wales, titled Leading the Way for the Future of Food, has left me confused and a tad bit fustrated.   As you are a Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, I am also surprised how you twist some of your terminology to further a national discussion at the publics' expense.


Confucius said “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


Agriculture is defined as a class of people that till the soil a/o raise stock.  It is about persons with skills a/o tools, interacting with natural resourses.


Agriculture is not an industry.  Agriculture is not a zoning. To say that agriculture was a thriving industry in Canada is not in accordance to the truth of things.


Agriculture consists of two components.  It is about the liberty and security of “property” inalienable with the liberty and security of “persons”.   If there is no person, there cannot be agriculture.  That is a simple truth.


You state "Too often, we take our food supply for granted thinking food will always be available to feed our nation."  and yet your commentary appears to take farmers for granted.  You separate the natural resources from the very person that makes the meaning of agriculture true and meaningful.


I also find it curious that you wish to collaborate with partners about the future of of food supply policies when you fail to mention our present supply laws and the source of our domestic marketing rights, duties and obligations. 


A little research will show that the King/Queen of Great Britain “granted” property to “persons” under Seal through an ancient system called Free and Common Socage in certain parts of Canada. The Crown awarded the "possession of the soil and climate" to individual farmers via signed and Sealed contracts that bind farmers with individual rights, duties and obligations especially to the terms and conditions of the Covenant Chain. These sovereign contracts legally bind farmers to domestic production and marketing obligations. 


You fail to mention the clause in our present constitution concerning marketing whereby "persons" shall be issued "licenses to trade without fee or reward". Sovereign marketing licenses allow for transportation rights on every road (rivers, roads, railroads, etc) in Ontario.

Where does our constitutional marketing rights fit in your proposed National Food Strategy discussions?  What is the national importance to the sovereign licenses to trade and how does it impact our domestic food supply?

There is an old Latin maxim that states; “Ignorantia legis neminem excusat translated to “ignorance of the law excuses no one”.


As an elected member of a provincial agricultural organization, would it not be prudent to investigate existing agricultural rights that were put in place centuries ago to protect the domestic population before suggestion any changes?

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