Bringing ag and rural issues to next federal budget

By: Rejean Pommainville

Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

When the federal government presents its next budget, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) wants to be sure that real investment in the agri-food sector and rural communities is part of the plan.

The issues we are advocating for with both federal and provincial governments are based on the fact that the agri-food sector and our rural communities hold tremendous potential for continuing economic development and prosperity … with strategic infrastructure investments. This message is the cornerstone of OFA’s ongoing Producing Prosperity in Ontario campaign, and we’ll be highlighting these issues with federal policymakers in advance of their next budget.

Our industry makes significant contributions to the bottom line of the entire country. To continue to grow and prosper, the agri-food sector and rural communities depend on real investments. We need the federal government to get money out the door and into Ontario to keep us competitive and able to efficiently and effectively continue to develop our sustainable food system.

When it comes to energy, Ontario has the highest energy rates in the country. We will continue to advocate for expanded natural gas infrastructure, with federal investment, throughout rural Ontario. Access to affordable energy will provide a competitive edge, help our sector save on energy costs and drive further growth. It is an investment that pays net economic dividends after the first year.

Reliable internet is a given in urban Canada. In rural and remote Ontario, access to consistent, reliable internet continues to challenge our businesses, schools and communities. It’s been more than two years since the CRTC declared broadband an essential service. This federal budget needs to show a real plan for implementation of the promised broadband strategy.

The goods and services produced by the agri-food sector depend on sound roads and bridges to transport to and from market. We need a continued commitment to improving rural infrastructure – at all levels of government – to keep our industry moving. 

Budgets are about investments and about taxes. OFA continues to advocate for fair and practical tax treatment for farming businesses. Right now, if shares of a farming corporation are transferred from Canadian farmers to their children, the transfer is taxed as a dividend. But if the farm was sold to a third party, it would be a capital gains and much more favourable from a tax standpoint.  It makes no sense. The federal government has indicated a willingness to look at this issue, and we’ll continue to push for this and other tax changes that contribute to succession and sustainability of farm businesses.

2019 is shaping up to be another interesting year, politically, with a federal budget and federal election. OFA will continue our push for strategic infrastructure investments at all levels of government to support our sector, our communities and our competitiveness.

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