WHEN GRAIN FARMERS of Ontario updated its strategic plan in 2021, protecting and growing markets was identified as one of the five strategic objectives for the organization. Protecting existing markets, diversifying domestic processing capacity, expanding export markets, and amplifying the quality, versatility, and sustainability of Ontario grains and oilseeds are among the priorities — all made much more challenging by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and, in 2022, the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As international supply chains buckled under pressure and global food insecurity started to rise, the need for Ontario’s grain farmers to meet growing demand has come into sharp focus.
Investing in growth opportunities for the sector is paying dividends for Ontario growers; in this edition of the Ontario Grain Farmer magazine, you can read about new processing facilities in Ontario, increased capacity for shipping grain, research on alternative uses for DON-infested corn, and more. Investments from the federal and provincial governments, Grain Farmers of Ontario, and private enterprises into these and many other market growth projects are all good news stories to celebrate.
As the world’s population grows — to an estimated 8.5 billion in 2030 — so does the demand for food. Ontario’s farmers have been successful at producing more, on less land, with fewer inputs, while producing lower greenhouse gas emissions. Our sustainability story is what sets us apart when we are connecting with new partners in growing and expanding domestic and international markets. Ontario’s farmers know that we need to do our part in the face of a changing climate and continue building a resilient, strong, and economically viable grain and oilseed sector.
But to meet the global demand for more grain, as we all know, we need fertilizer. That’s a topic that’s making national and international news at the moment. Uncertain supply, dramatic price increases, and tariffs on product coming from Russia have wreaked havoc on Ontario’s farmers. And recent announcements from the federal government with calls to cut fertilizer emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 have increased the conversation around our ability to grow enough food to meet the growing domestic and international demand — and raised a lot of questions for which we don’t, as of yet, have all the answers.
Grain Farmers of Ontario is committed to working with government and industry partners to tell our sustainability story. Our farmer-members are already implementing many best management practices and are committed to lessening their overall environmental footprint. Farmers will always be improving and innovating as new tools, techniques, and knowledge becomes available. Behind the scenes, our staff and Board of Directors are engaging daily in discussions with stakeholders from across the value chain to find solutions that will allow us to continue to grow the safe, nutritious, and environmentally sustainable grains that the world needs. •