With a provincial election just a month away, there are agricultural issues that need to be front and centre for all candidates.

Agricultural federations from across the province are organizing all candidates’ meetings in order to inform farmers about what their perspective provincial leaders are doing about agricultural issues.

The Lanark Federation of Agriculture is organizing an All-Candidates meeting for the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding on May 11 at 7 p.m. The federation will be following the same format as its previous meeting for the fall federal election, where it will be questioning and filming the candidates at the COGECO studio in Smiths Falls. Video will be live-streamed and available for viewing on YouTube for the duration of the election campaign. Three of the four main parties have confirmed their attendance.

The federation will be sending out a request via e-blast to members for submitting questions.

The Glengarry Federation of Agriculture, (GFA) have been working at highlighting upcoming events and issues.

 A recent press release from the GFA listed the upcoming municipal and provincial elections being held Oct. 24 and June 2 respectively.

“The municipal election is of particular importance to us as the last number of years have clearly demonstrated how direct of an impact municipal councils can have on the way that our industry is regulated in the county. Anyone that is looking to have a real and direct impact on the legislative framework that affects us at a municipal level, should consider running in this election. While the directors of the federation continue to work diligently to affect positive change for the industry through our lobby efforts, the reality is that we will have a limited impact if we do not have a voice around the council table. An individual wishing to be nominated as a candidate must file a nomination form as well as an endorsement form with the signature of 25 eligible voters for the region between May 10 and Aug. 19, 2022.” 

Issues that affect farmers right across the province include rising energy costs and carbon pricing. Preserving farmland is becoming an issue, as urban areas push further outwards into rural Ontario. The need for more affordable housing solutions is real but how much farmland will need to be given to look after transportation routes because of urban growth.

Developing and maintaining an efficient labour force to help get food from a farmer’s field to an urban table. Trucking, processing, and sorting jobs at distribution centres, as food goes out to retailers and restaurants must be secured.

There has been a decrease in the number of younger people making up the working population. Some in the food industry have sounded the warning that this decrease may cause agricultural related labour issues in the future.

Food waste is another issue for Canadians. Canadians throw out over $1,000 of food every year. Voters would like politicians to suggest some way to help reduce the amount of food waste generated.

Another issue is responsible economic policies; farmers rely on credit and on sophisticated money management to maintain a healthy farm business.

Risk Management programs need to meet these complexities.

Energy costs have become an issue with farmers. They are looking for provincial energy policies that reflect the challenge energy costs create for agriculture in general.

Rural infrastructure is always an issue for rural communities. Farmers need to be able to rely on rural infrastructure to ensure they are able to do what they need to do to get food from farm to the table. The development and expansion of effective rural broadband is more important than ever.

Environmental stewardship, healthy soil strategies, thoughtful thinking about future agriculture and more government research and innovation solutions are topics provincial candidates should be asked about.

As urban populations move further into rural environments the public along with farmers have become concerned about the welfare of farm animals. One concern is that legislation created around animal care be informed by experts in farm animal health and husbandry.

In a statement about the upcoming provincial election, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, (CFFO) said: “Ontario’s commodity organizations already uphold high standards of care that align with accepted codes of practice in similar jurisdictions. Animal welfare legislation that accounts for normal farming practices will lead to best outcomes for farm animal care. Officers tasked with enforcing animal protection laws need to be informed about normal farming practices and general farming activities. For safety, training must include animal care procedures and biosecurity measures.”

Regarding labour issues on the farm, the CFFO would like to see provincial policies that support farmers and their employees.

The protection of farmland is on everyone’s minds.

“Population growth is expected in Ontario, and most people will settle in the same regions that are home to our most productive farmland. Keeping Ontario food secure and finding homes for future residents is a huge challenge. More than ever, our prime farmland needs to be protected,” stated the CFFO.