Alliances

FROM THE CEO'S DESK

Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario

YOU LIKELY READ last fall that Grain Farmers of Ontario has rejoined Grain Growers of Canada (GGC). Our chair, Markus Haerle, has taken an important role as vice-chair of the GGC. The news may have come as a surprise to some who remember that our corn, soybean, and wheat legacy organizations (once founding members of the GGC) had decided to part ways with the national group nearly 15 years ago.

But times change; and so must our alliances.

We are a strong provincial organization and we have made important inroads with both our provincial and federal representatives. We are a respected voice on agricultural issues. However, there are some issues, such as taxation and business risk management programs, where an even stronger national voice is needed so that our political leaders understand the full extent of how these policies affect not just Ontario grain farmers but all Canadian grain farmers.

For more than a decade, there has been a real emphasis on value-chain organizations. And while this approach is admirable, some issues affect farmers more than other parties within the value-chain and there is still a need to look out for our own interests. Other members of the value-chain certainly look out for themselves. We needed to join forces with a national voice to ensure grain farmer issues get the attention they deserve in Ottawa.

With that in mind, Grain Farmers of Ontario was instrumental in initiating a revitalization process for the GGC which resulted in grain farmer representation from coast to coast. Recently, a new executive director was hired with experience in farm organizations and private industry which will be beneficial in achieving the goals of the newly re-structured organization.

This stronger national voice for grain farmers comes at an important time. A federal election will take place later this year. This is our opportunity to put our issues on the agenda of all national parties.

As we continue the review of the Business Risk Management Program, we need funding for a pilot of our gross margin alternative insurance product, continued funding to support the AgriRecovery program, and additional funds for new crop insurance coverage.

We need our elected officials to understand the costly impact of the carbon tax to our business operations. We cannot pass along any of our increased costs, and therefore exemptions for all fuels used within agriculture would ease some of the financial burden this tax has placed on farmers.

We need to remind politicians of the important role farmers play in producing the raw commodities that create ethanol and biodiesel. These are key components of the Clean Fuel Standard currently under consultation and development by the federal government.

And as trade tensions between the U.S. and China continue to affect commodity prices, particularly soybeans, we need a federal government that is willing to develop a contingency fund to guard against significant losses. We also need strong trade agreements to ensure access to key international markets.

Grain Farmers of Ontario look forward to building strong alliances directly with political candidates and through the GGC to ensure these issues and others are addressed. •

About Barry Senft 79 Articles
CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario