The next federal budget must step up to foster agri-food growth

by Mark Wales
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Every year, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has the opportunity to make a formal presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance, in advance of the federal government’s spring release of its annual budget. We used this recent forum with the committee to remind the government about the investments needed to continue to drive the economic powerhouse that is our agri-food sector and our rural communities.

The government’s own Barton Report, released in 2017, clearly identified the agri-food industry as one of the key sectors to drive growth and create jobs. But we can only really succeed with strategic investments in rural Canada that will support our ability to operate in a competitive marketplace.

We are all aware of the production sacrificed by our dairy, poultry and egg sectors in the new USMCA trade deal. But other agricultural sectors continue to struggle under ongoing tariff wars.

That’s ample evidence for the federal government to step up and support our entire sector so we can unleash new and innovative growth for agri-food and our rural communities.

OFA’s submission to the Standing Committee on Finance, in advance of the spring 2019 federal budget, reiterated the call for continued investment in natural gas expansion, creation of greater access to broadband, support for transportation infrastructure, addressing farm labour shortages and training needs, and improving our tax and trade competitiveness.

It shouldn’t be news to anyone in government that Canada’s agri-food industry – from primary producers through the entire value-add supply chain – is an economic powerhouse for the entire country. OFA will continue to push the federal government to recognize the tremendous contributions of our sector and match that recognition with strategic investments that truly support and promote the competitiveness of Canada’s agri-food sector.

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