By Nathan Stevens
April 15, 2011
Another federal election is upon us. While some question the need for an election so soon, it is our democratic opportunity to make our individual voices heard. There are serious issues for farmers and rural Ontario as voters head to the ballot box on election-day.
The reasons behind voting patterns are naturally diverse. Some voters have a loyalty to a party regardless of minor policy concerns. Some look at local candidates and choose the one that they feel is most in touch with the local community. For many others, the choice of which party to support is a more fluid one. They may have a broad area of concern that needs to be addressed, or a single policy that will drive them in one direction or another.
For undecided voters, there are agricultural and rural concerns that should be considered for election-day choices. There is a need for whomever forms our next federal government to recognize that regionally flexible business risk management programming is a necessity in a country as diverse as Canada. What works in Alberta may not necessarily work in Ontario.
There needs to be a tangible improvement in programming that improves the capacity of Ontario farmers to make improvements on their farms. Programs like the Environmental Farm Plan and the Food Safety and Traceability Initiative are excellent in their desired outcomes, but are facing serious funding shortcomings. This results in many producers not having the financial capacity to make improvements on their farms.
Further support of a proactive young farmer program and succession planning would be beneficial to many family farms in Ontario. Many of today’s farms are complex businesses that could benefit from additional resources in succession planning.
From a broader rural perspective, support for rural schools, hospitals, libraries, and broadband internet is a key concern for many rural communities. Ensuring that rural youth have high quality education and access to information is critical to their future success.
Federal elections are an opportunity for Canadians to make their voice heard about the direction of the country. For some, the decision on whom to support is still up in the air. For those who are still undecided in rural Ontario, there are serious issues that need to be considered before they cast their vote on election-day.
Nathan Stevens is the Research and Policy Advisor for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston. It is also archived on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.