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Political change

From the CEO’s desk


election in Ontario almost

four years ago, it’s hard to believe that in the

short time since, the Canadian government,

the U.S. government, and many of the

provincial governments across Canada have

seen significant change in their political

leaders and policy directions. There is no

doubt that in this new disruptive political

environment we now live in, it’s very likely

to have an impact on the voting public in

the Ontario election this June. But no one,

not even pollsters (as we have seen time

after time) are in a position to predict who

will form Ontario’s next government.

While we all have our own opinion and biases

about who should form government next,

I thought it’s a good time to examine the

parties’ commitments to our industry’s

priorities given the release of the Ontario

PC party’s policy document, which they are

calling ‘The People’s Guarantee’, and the

fact that we are in the final months of the

current government’s mandate.

Despite a rocky start with Kathleen Wynne’s

Liberal government over science and

pesticide regulations, Grain Farmers of

Ontario has been working on developing

opportunities to work in partnership with

politicians at Queen’s Park, OMAFRA, and

other government ministries towards

initiatives that are good for grain and

oilseed farmers.

It looks as if we’ve achieved proposed

regulations to double the ethanol mandate;

saved the RMP program for another year;

dodged the removal of the coloured diesel

tax exemption; and garnered provincial

support in trade negotiations. The agriculture

section of the Domestic Action Plan for

reducing the impact of phosphorus in Lake

Erie was a collaborative effort between

government and commodity leaders,

including Grain Farmers of Ontario. And the

“ask” for comprehensive reform for the

federal Business Risk Management (BRM)

suite by the AgGrowth coalition (which we

helped formwithother farmgroups nationally)

was championed by Ontario’s Minister of

Agriculture at the Federal-Provincial-

Territorial table this summer.

But these last four years have not been

without challenges. Farmers, alongside the

rest of Ontarians, have seen price hikes in

fuel and other energy costs due to the

Ontario government’s Cap and Trade

regulations, which have also led to higher

input prices for farmers. We all know about

hydro rates and what happened there. So

far, it’s not known how agriculture will

benefit from the Cap and Trade system

even though we are a major carbon sink

for the province.

Patrick Brown’s Peoples Guarantee makes

a lot of promises, including some that

address these issues — dismantling the Cap

and Trade system and opting for a Carbon

Tax instead, and keeping hydro costs down.

We were pleased to see Brown’s policy

document also includes two areas Grain

Farmers of Ontario has been asking for —

an increase to the underfunded BRM

programming by $50 million and the

establishment of an agriculture task force

that we would like to see be the drivers for

growth in the agriculture sector.

Over the next few months, the leadership

of Grain Farmers of Ontario will continue

to talk with political parties and candidates

about ideas that we think will result in

growth for our grain and oilseed farmers.

The Board of Directors has determined two

main ideas we need the next government

to focus on for our farmer-members:

• The establishment of a made-in-Ontario

economic advisory growth table for grains

and oilseeds that can help shape the right

policy environment to achieve growth.

• A federal/provincial policy that establishes

a flexible suite of BRM programs that

address the risks faced by today’s

modern farmers.

Over the next few months, your local

candidates will be knocking on doors, holding

events, and asking for your vote. When they

do, I hope you ask them about their position

on the agricultural issues that are important

to you. Further to that, ask them how they

will make sure the future of Ontario will take

advantage of the growth potential that

grain and oilseed farmers can provide.

Make sure you use this opportunity in the

lead up to the election.


Rachel Telford, Managing Editor

The start of a new year is a great time to take

stock of the current market and broader

agriculture industry. We’ve once again approached

some Ontario experts to garner their insight on

what we can expect for the year ahead and what

we can learn from the year that was.

In our cover story, we highlight the advantage

the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway

provides to farmers. We get Philip Shaw’s take

on the corn market (page 12) and Todd Austin’s

take on wheat (page 15). Blair Andrews from

Farm Market News provides a recap and analysis

of prices from the 2016 - 2017 marketing year

(page 22).

Recently, we’ve been featuring businesses within

the broader agriculture industry — including the

Port of Johnstown, Wallenstein Feed & Supply,

and the University of Guelph. This month, we

highlight IGPC Ethanol Inc.(page 28). Steve

McCabe, Grain Farmers of Ontario manager of

member relations, and I toured the facility in

November in the midst of their expansion. It

was a timely visit to learn about their future

plans, their need for talented young professionals,

and the impact of government policy on the

renewable fuels industry.

If there’s an agribusiness you would like to know

more about, let me know. I plan to attend some

of the District Meetings this month and would

love to hear from you in person, or you can contact

me via my email address noted below. •

Letter from the Editor


Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario


Comments or suggestions about the Ontario

Grain Farmer? Contact me,