Bud­get de­mands

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

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

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