As we celebrate the 20th annual Ontario Agriculture Week I want to salute our farmers for all they do to feed our province, build our rural communities and grow the economy.
I know the hard work and long hours our farmers put in and the challenges of dealing with risks beyond your control such as weather and trade issues. Our government for the people understands the adversity our farmers face. We saw those challenges this week with concessions in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, that will impact our supply managed sector. I want to assure you that we are pushing the federal government to provide compensation for our impacted farmers. We will always stand up for Ontario farmers.
There are huge opportunities in the agriculture and food sector; however, we have heard far too often about the difficulties farmers face with red tape and excessive regulation. The entire sector is saddled with too much of it. We are getting rid of it so farmers can concentrate more on what they do best: working the land and feeding families across the province. Over the next few months you will see more of the steps we are taking to reduce red tape and simplify these regulations.
To better serve Ontario farmers, we want to hear from you about your experiences with red tape so we can find solutions. If there are government roadblocks reducing your productivity or stopping you from expanding your operations please let me know so we can address them. Our farmers and operators of agri-businesses are the true experts and our government wants to hear from you about the burdens that are getting in your way.
We also want to work with you to strengthen our rural communities, to reduce high energy costs on the family farm, and to continue to put more money in the pockets of farmers. We’re tackling crippling high electricity rates and have introduced legislation that, if passed, would scrap the previous government’s expensive Green Energy Program.
Premier Ford recently announced a plan to expand natural gas access to more than 70 new rural communities. We understand the importance of increasing access to natural gas, and infrastructure in our communities across the province. I also want to commend Premier Ford for travelling to Washington, where he stood up for Ontario jobs and brought forward the trade concerns of our farmers.
Our government has vowed Ontario is open for business, and we mean it. Farmers are the stewards of the land and we recognize the vital importance of your hard work to the economic well-being of Ontario. We will do whatever it takes to support the family farm and create an environment so you can grow and be profitable, now and in future generations.
Over the next four years we will leave no stone unturned to provide real relief to rural Ontario. We will work with you and listen to you to ensure that we are truly partners in building a strong agriculture sector and strong rural communities.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs