Ontario Grain Farmer March 2024

ONTARIO’S REPUTATION FOR GROWING HIGH-QUALITY AND SUSTAINABLE GRAINS continues to drive demand for the products that Grain Farmers of Ontario’s farmer-members grow — and this was evident on a recent trade mission to Mexico that Brendan Byrne, director of District 1 (Essex), and I participated in at the end of January. Led by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Minister Lisa Thompson, the delegation included partners along the value chain, including processors, millers, bakeries, and export companies. As the sixth-largest export market for Ontario agri-food products, with a two-way trade value of $2.8 billion in 2022, the Mexican market, with a population of 127 million, is an integral part of Ontario’s trade portfolio. Grain Farmers of Ontario is committed to working with our partners in the provincial and federal governments and building upon the trade relationships developed and nurtured by Cereals Canada in countries like Mexico to ensure a robust trade environment for Ontario-grown wheat. On the other side of the world, Grain Farmers of Ontario was represented by Scott Persall, director of District 5 (Elgin, Norfolk) and Dana Dickerson, manager of market development and sustainability, on a Soy Canada trade mission to Thailand and Japan in early February. Southeast Asia is a significant market for Canadian-grown soybeans — Japan alone imports more than 8.3 metric tonnes each year, valued at $351 million. The trade mission highlighted the sustainability of Canada’s soybean crop, which is highly valued in the region for its quality and consistency. The new Sustainable Canadian Soy program, launched in 2022, builds on that reputation and allows Canadian farmers to demonstrate and quantify their sustainable practices. The Mexican trade mission marked the last time I travelled with Brendan Byrne as chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario — his three-year term ended in mid-February. Over the past three years, Brendan has been a steadfast champion of the Ontario grain industry. He has led the organization through unprecedented challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on fertilizer supply and prices, and most recently, the St. Lawrence Seaway strike action. With each of these challenges, Brendan amplified the voice of Ontario’s 28,000 grain farmers to media, consumers, and provincial and federal governments, bringing our key messages to the forefront. He has stewarded Grain Farmers of Ontario’s campaigns to support issues, including Bill C-234 to remove the carbon tax on grain drying and to increase the Ontario government’s support of the Risk Management Program. Working with Brendan over the past three years has been a pleasure and an honour, and I extend my personal thanks to him for his commitment, friendship, and support. That being said, Brendan is not going anywhere — Grain Farmers of Ontario will continue to benefit from his leadership as director of District 1 (Essex). As we head into March, you’ve likely been to many farm meetings and conferences over the winter months — but there is one more upcoming event you won’t want to miss! The Grain Farmers of Ontario’s annual March Classic is just around the corner, being held March 19 at RBC Place in London. Whether you’ve been many times before or this will be your first March Classic, I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the fantastic line-up of speakers, opportunities for networking with colleagues, friends, and industry, and the top-notch food and entertainment that has built March Classic’s reputation as Ontario’s premier agriculture event. You can find out more about the March Classic, including the agenda and how to register, on page 16. I hope to see you there! • Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario 4 From the CEO’s desk Growing our reputation CROSBY DEVITT AND BRENDAN BYRNE JOINED MINISTER LISA THOMPSON ON A TRADE MISSION TO MEXICO IN LATE JANUARY.