When the anticipated 2016 Ontario Budget is delivered this spring, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) will be watching closely to see the items included that impact Ontario’s agri-food sector. As part of its advocacy role, OFA annually submits budget recommendations to Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, advising government on areas of much-needed investment.
OFA’s 2016 budget recommendations support the Premier’s agrifood growth challenge – to double our annual growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs by 2020. This ambitious goal requires collaboration between government and industry. OFA has identified three key issues that impact Ontario’s agricultural industry and farm business communities that must be considered before the budget is delivered.
1. Invest in rural infrastructure. Rural Ontario requires the expansion of natural gas infrastructure. Access to natural gas will lower business costs on farms and throughout rural Ontario. OFA believes natural gas is the best infrastructure investment that can be made to support the agri-food sector and rural communities across the province.
2. Support farm business success. Agriculture depends on energy and we need a farm/industrial electricity rate to remain competitive in our national and global markets, and continue to grow our farm businesses.
3. Take action on climate change. Ontario needs to establish a Cap and Trade System that acknowledges the carbon offsets that the agricultural industry offers. And we must recognize the efforts that farmers have made and are continuing to make to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
OFA’s full budgetary submission includes detailed recommendations and support for each issue. Addressing these initiatives in the upcoming provincial budget will put Ontario’s agri-food sector in a winning position to help achieve the Premier’s challenge for growth. Read the OFA’s full submission at www.ofa.on.ca