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Farm & Food Care Ontario open for business
Following the amalgamation of the Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC) and Agricultural Groups Concerned about Resources and the Environment (AGCare), a coalition focused on providing credible information on farming to Ontario’s public has been created.

“Farm & Food Care will cultivate awareness and increase appreciation for agriculture by providing objective, credible information on food and how it’s grown right here in Ontario,” said Crystal Mackay, executive director of the new organization in a release.

She added that the new structure will provide a clearer and more effective voice for public outreach and proactive communications, one stop shopping for information on food and farming. “Farm & Food Care’s work benefits anyone whose livelihood depends on a healthy and prosperous agriculture in Ontario,” says Mackay.

Building on the legacy of OFAC and AGCare, Farm & Food Care will focus on building public trust and confidence in food and farming through a variety of initiatives including public outreach and media relations, issues management, public speaking and training, resource development and industry partnerships.

An interim 12-member board of directors has been elected from amongst the 2011 OFAC and AGCare boards to serve until Farm & Food Care’s inaugural annual meeting on April 17, 2012. Two advisory councils will be formed in addition to the Board, with an emphasis on farm animal care and the environment. These councils will play a pivotal role with the new organization, providing a forum for proactive dialogue and direction with many stakeholders.

Visit www.farmfoodcare.org for more information.

Argentina relaxes wheat export rules
Argentina has recently relaxed its export quotas for wheat following pressure from farmers. The new system now requires approximately seven million metric tonnes of wheat to be reserved for domestic demand and farmers will be allowed to export the remainder if certain conditions are met. Output from this year’s harvest is expected to be 13 to 14 million tonnes. 

According to a report on Bloomberg.com, farm groups have been lobbying for a change to the system as it has often left farmers with excess wheat that can’t be sold. 

No extra tax for small-scale power plants on farms
The province of Ontario recently announced that “additional categories” of property tax assessments will be created to ease taxes for farmers involved in the FIT and microFit programs. The new categories will be based on the size and location of privately-owned systems generating and selling power through these programs.

According to a release from the province, “the move will encourage property owners to continue to install and use renewable energy technologies.”

Farmers with roof-mounted solar panels, small ground-mounted panels or biogas digesters will avoid additional property taxes on these installations with this change to property tax assessments.

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