Supporting agriculture

FROM THE CEO'S DESK

Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario

A NEW FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL funding program for agriculture launches this month. The Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion commitment to support the agri-food and agri-products sector. Additionally, Ontario signed a bilateral agreement with the federal government for CAP that will support specialized research and projects that foster innovation and growth and provide funding to help farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm, such as unpredictable weather or market volatility. Funding commitments include $1.1 billion for Business Risk Management programs and $417 million for strategic initiatives to help grow the Ontario agri-food and agri-products sectors.

I want to commend and thank government officials for recognizing the importance of public funding and continuing to invest in agriculture. This funding shows that they recognize the contribution our sector makes to the economy and the value that can be gained through industry and government partnerships.

Grain Farmers of Ontario plans to access CAP funding to assist with our research and market development goals. We have successfully taken advantage of similar funding which was provided in the past through the Growing Forward and Growing Forward 2 programs. Over the past five years we have accessed about $3 million in federal-provincial funding to support projects which have translated into direct benefits for our farmer-members.

For example, through our research department we helped fund research projects on glyphosate resistant weeds which resulted in the identification of effective herbicide programs for use in corn and soybean fields. We also funded a project that identified management strategies to deal with an emerging soybean disease (Sudden Death Syndrome) and a project improving our understanding of the sensitivity of various Ontario farm soils to phosphorus loss as a step toward identifying effective management strategies. An Ontario phosphorus loss assessment tool for farmers is now being developed. The results of these projects were shared with farmers at grower field days, large agricultural conferences, and through various publications to make them accessible to farmers.

Under the umbrella of market development, Grain Farmers of Ontario, on behalf of the Canadian Soybean Council (now Soy Canada), received over $100,000 in funding to conduct market development related activities on behalf of the Canadian food grade soybean industry. This funding was used to conduct incoming and outgoing missions to further our relationships in key export markets including Japan and the European Union. This funding has also allowed us to participate in the Food Ingredients Europe Expo, the largest raw ingredient show in Europe, the Soy and Grain Trade Summit, the only international soybean specific event, as well as the International Oilseed Producers Dialogue which brings together representatives from around the world to discuss common challenges and solutions facing the global oilseed industry.

Grain Farmers of Ontario’s sustainability initiatives have also been supported through government funding. We received over $300,000 to conduct market research on sustainability, which allowed us to meet with and study a number of the global sustainability initiatives currently in use so that we could gain a better understanding of how they might work for Ontario. The funding also supported pilot projects so we could test the various programs with Ontario farmers. These programs are important as consumers and retailers are demanding proof that their food was farmed sustainably.

As our industry continues to evolve and adapt to a changing climate and a changing business environment, we will continue our efforts to leverage government funding to the benefit of our farmer-members. We know these investments are important to make and I’m pleased to see the government recognizes that as well. •

About Barry Senft 71 Articles
CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario