Photo left, The Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Photo right, Senator Rob Black.      Whalen photos

by Theresa Whalen
Special to the AgriNews
OTTAWA – The Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) held their sixth of eight seminars in Ottawa, Oct. 21 to 24, while hosting their American counterparts from the LEAD New York program. Under the theme “Federal Government: Globalization and Trade”, both groups examined Canadian/American governance, relations, trade and food policies while developing their own networks and understanding between New York and Ontario leaders.

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food addressed the group at the welcome reception and dinner saying, “The recently signed United States-Mexico-Canada agreement is great news for our economies. Since NAFTA was signed 25 years ago – our trade in agriculture and food in North America has quadrupled. In Ontario alone, we export around $9-billion worth of agricultural products to the Untied States, every year.”

The Minister also acknowledged the deal will impact Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers, and that the government is setting up a working group to ensure impacted farmers are compensated.

“More than half of the food made Canada-wide is destined for export to help feed the world’s growing population. The middle class of China is growing by the population of Canada every single year. And they want to eat as well as you and I do. So, as farmers and industry leaders, we have a responsibility. Not only do we have to feed the nation, but we also must feed the world. And we must do so sustainably,” he said.

The Minister believes that trade diversification is a key strategy for supporting farmers as well as rural communities across Canada and offered examples of the European Agreement giving Canadian farmers new market access worth over $100-million and the CPTPP with close to $2-billion.

Minister MacAulay closed noting how important leadership is for the future of the agricultural industry and congratulated AALP and LEAD New York on the important development work they are doing.

The second dinner speaker was recently appointed Senator Rob Black. Senator Black is well known throughout Ontario’s agricultural community from his extensive work with 4-H, the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario, and various positions with OMAFRA, along with being a graduate of the University of Guelph, among his many other career achievements. AALP has a special place in Sen. Black’s heart as he was the executive director of the Rural Ontario Institute, AALP’s parent organization, when he was summoned to the Senate.

Senator Black shared his path to the Senate of Canada, how it works and how the Senate fits into the way our country is governed. He is a member of the non-partisan Independent Senators’ Group and sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry which is currently studying how the value-added food sector can be more competitive in global markets.

Senator Black also sits on the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector which is currently examining the impact of federal and provincial laws and policies governing charities, non- profit organizations, foundations, and other similar groups; and examining the impact of the voluntary sector in Canada.

Other areas of study for the AALP Ottawa session included presentations and question periods with Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture; Hon. Michael Chong, MP Wellington-Halton Hills comparing Canadian and U.S. government systems; Aaron Fowler, director general of Trade Agreements and Negotiations and chief ag negotiator for Canada; Iiker Reyes Godelmann, minister counselor of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food at Embassy of Mexico in Canada; Nancy Peckford, national spokesperson and executive director of Equal Voice – Women in Politics; and a workshop on “Managing Competing Commitments” by Larry Van De Valk, LEAD New York executive director. The session also included a tour of Parliament Hill, and bus tours to examine diary production and supply management at Corner View Farms Ltd. near Richmond hosted by the Schouten family, and egg production at Burnbrae Farms Ltd. near Brockville.

The Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program is a 19-month executive development opportunity for men and women who want to shape the future of the agriculture and food industry and make a positive difference in rural communities across Ontario.

The curriculum includes a series of eight seminars held across Ontario, two study tours – one North American and one international – and one issues analysis project. Study topics include government and political systems, marketing and economics, environmental impact, national and international trade, communication and organization skills, decision making, consumer and social issues, media relations, agri-food trends and society and globalization and the dynamics of change. For more information on AALP go to

AALP was established in 1984 through the work of four partners – the University of Guelph, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Foundation for Rural Living.