by Keith Currie
President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
It happens every year – the end of the calendar arrives sooner than we think. Just as we scramble to finish harvest and get winter wheat in the ground, it’s time to start making decisions for the next growing season.
December always marks a good time to reflect on what’s happened in the agri-food sector over the past 12 months, and the activities the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has worked on for our members.
People have been a definite highlight in my work at OFA over this past year. In my role as president, I have met with people and organizations across the province. I’ve toured some of the U.S. states with Minister Leal to help forge new relationships with U.S. farm leaders. And I’ve realized how important it is for us all to work collaboratively – within our industry, our community and with the entire province.
OFA’s advocacy work puts us in touch with a broad range of groups, government and policy makers – with people that know a lot about our industry and some who know very little about what makes our sector a powerhouse in the Ontario economy.
As farmers, we know that one of our primary jobs that we are all so proud of is that we feed people. We also feed the economy with jobs, innovation and opportunities. And that’s a message that I want to be sure everybody knows about.
As we advocate for the issues that impact how and where we operate our farm businesses, it’s so important to look for common ground to bring a stronger, unified voice for policy and regulatory changes.
OFA worked on a lot of files this year. Some we were able to open, address and close. Many of the issues we tackled operate on a longer-term schedule, like minimum wage, federal tax changes, phosphorus and natural gas expansion. These issues will continue to be top of mind for us in 2018, as part of our provincial election campaign.
This year also marked the year we began to talk more about mental health. I know the conversations will continue as we are more open with ourselves and each other. And I know the conversations we start can help create an environment where mental health is never seen as a weakness.
In spite of the business of the season, please make sure you take time to celebrate the season with family, friends and your community – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from OFA.