Government relations progress and plans

This spring has been quite busy and challenging for everyone given the poor weather conditions, the launch of the Risk Management Program and two elections to keep things interesting. It is reinforced almost daily how important it is for us to have a positive working relationship with government.

Grain Farmers of Ontario directors and staff have worked closely with Minister Mitchell and the staff at OMAFRA and Agricorp over the past year to deliver the Risk Management Program for this fall. For our organization it has been a productive experience.

A process that is also moving along quite well is the resolution to the deferred payment issue from late 2010. A committee has been struck to evaluate the options for possible permanent language in the Grains Act that will permit the practice of deferring payments. A permanent amendment will be made at the recommendation of the committee on or before July 2012. Until that time, the amendment made in December 2010 that allows for for deferred payments will remain in place.

Your organization is also working closely with Agricorp through this challenging weather to find ways to offer help to farmers making claims for the first time in many years or struggling to meet reporting deadlines.

As the provincial election approaches, Grain Farmers of Ontario is focused on getting a provincial biodiesel mandate to match the two percent federal mandate announced earlier in the year. Your organization also has taxation reforms on the priority list including the removal of HST on grain storage bins and related equipment and Capital Cost Allowance acceleration for capital purchases.

Federally, Grain Farmers of Ontario is meeting with MPs over the summer to introduce our organization to the newly elected and to continue to build our relationship with returning members.  It is also our ongoing priority to meet regularly with the staff of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to remain up to date on the issues facing farmers from a national perspective and ensure the needs of Ontario’s grain farmers remain top of mind.

We are also asking the federal government for a commitment to meet with our organization to find new, innovative solutions to address the funding needs for the Business Risk Management Program that meet the objectives of both farmers and the government.

In addition to business risk management, Grain Farmers of Ontario has a number of other federal opportunities we will address in our summer meetings. These include a greater investment by the federal government in public research, a united strategy for market development both domestically and overseas, the Capital Cost Allowance acceleration for capital purchases and a tax credit for certified seed.

As we move into the next few months, I hope the weather cooperates and you have a good summer. •

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THE ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER magazine strives to be the number one source of information for our province’s grain farmers. With a balanced mix of production, marketing, technology, research, and general interest articles, we provide farmers with valuable information in an easy-to-read format.

As the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Grain Farmer is a magazine that is made by farmers, for farmers. The magazine is an important tool that supports the organization’s vision to drive the Ontario grain industry to become a global leader.