What We're Working on For You: OFVGA issues and activities update November 2018
What We're Working on For You November 2018
This new regular newsletter is to keep you, our members, informed about what the key issues and files are that OFVGA is currently tackling on behalf of growers.
Top Three Issues
Environment: Upcoming new provincial policy
The provincial government announced its environment strategy on November 29. Consultation on the strategy is open until January 28, 2019. OFVGA met with Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks earlier this fall to express support for the government’s cancellation of the cap and trade program as well as discuss other environmental issues.
Latest status:OFVGA will be providing feedback on the details of its environment plan to the provincial government once the plan has been reviewed and understood. OFVGA’s goal is to ensure strategies for Ontario don’t affect the competitiveness of fruit and vegetable production in the province while protecting the environment and supporting to carbon reduction goals.
Crop protection: Mancozeb and PMRA process for re-evaluation of crop protection materials
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has reposted its proposed decision on mancozeb, which now includes removal of all uses except for greenhouse tobacco. This is even more restrictive than the previous decision posted in June.
OFVGA continues to monitor re-evaluation proposed and final decisions published by the PMRA. Significant concerns with respect to the re-evaluation process are apparent, and OFVGA is working to build a productive working relationship with PMRA to improve the process.
Latest status:An extension request for the consultation period for Mancozeb was denied by the PMRA. The consultation deadline remains at January 3, 2019. A meeting is scheduled for early December with PMRA which will be part of PMRA’s internal review of the re-evaluation program to identify opportunities for improvement, explore alternative models for re-evaluation, and increase transparency and predictability for industry.
OFVGA representatives played an active role in the Canadian Horticultural Council/Canadian Produce Marketing Association Fall Harvest event in Ottawa earlier this month. This is an annual lobbying event where horticulture industry representatives meet with government officials about key issues of concern to the sector. This year, the focus was on trade, crop protection, labour and the national food strategy.
Latest status: Many of the files OFVGA works on actively are national in nature and affect growers right across the country. OFVGA will continue to monitor national issues and invest time and resources into work on key files, such as crop protection, carbon tax, labour and others.
Other Files We are Keeping an Eye On
Ontario fall fiscal update
The provincial government’s fall fiscal update made mention of the creation of an agricultural taskforce by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Members of the advisory group will provide input to the government on key policies and issues that impact the industry.
Latest status: OFVGA is looking forward to learning more about the taskforce, including details about who will be part of it and how those individuals will be identified. OFVGA is working to ensure that the fruit and vegetable sector is appropriately represented.
Federal fall economic statement
The federal government’s 2018 economic statement announced a number of measures to support increased business investment and export activities. These measures include benefits to the agriculture and agri-food sector.
Latest status: OFVGA is reviewing the economic statement to determine how all of the measures impact the sector. A summary note has been created to describe the changes to capital cost allowance deductions for businesses, which can be found at https://www.ofvga.org/uploads/resources/files/20181128%20CCA%20Changes%20Note.pdf
Regulatory burden reduction
The Ontario government has indicated its intent to improve the regulatory environment for businesses in Ontario, including farmers. OFVGA is identifying specific areas where regulations can be made smarter and more effective for the fruit and vegetable sector. In addition, OFVGA is promoting the practical application of regulations and government enforcement activities.
Latest status:OFVGA is meeting with various provincial ministers, members of the Official Opposition, and ministry officials on a regular basis, promoting smarter regulation and service-driven instead of compliance-focused government. Anyone with examples of where regulations can be simplified or improved is asked to contact Gordon Stock at OFVGA.
Fresh from the Farm fundraising initiative
Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman was on hand at a school in his Oxford County riding as the school received its shipment of produce for the Fresh from the Farm fundraising program. Now in its sixth year, the program, which is a partnership between OFVGA, Dietitians of Canada and the provincial government, lets participating schools raise funds by selling fresh Ontario fruits and vegetables. To date, 1,713 schools have participated, selling 1,657,219 kilograms (3,653,543 pounds) of Ontario fruits and vegetables and raising a total of $4,048,849. Schools keep 40% of the funds raised, with 50% going directly back to Ontario farmers, and the remaining 10% supporting program operations.
Latest status: OFVGA chair Jan VanderHout and Executive Director Alison Robertson, along with representatives from Streef’s Produce, which handles produce distribution logistics, joined Minister Hardeman at the event, highlighting the importance of the fruit and vegetable sector to the Ontario economy and the domestic food supply.
News Releases and Submissions
OFVGA is accepting nominations for the Award of Merit
Nominations are now open for the OFVGA Award of Merit. It is handed out annually to an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions to Ontario’s fruit and vegetable sector in areas of strategic leadership, technical input or innovation, and/or the dedication to the industry. Nomination deadline is December 18.
More information: https://ofvga.org/article/ontario-fruit-and-vegetable-growers-association-seeking-nominations-for-award-of-merit.
OFVGA welcomes federation innovation funding for greenhouse automation research
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) welcomes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s November 26 announcement of $5 million in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support the Automation Cluster. The cluster, led by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre Inc., will focus on increased automation for the Canadian horticulture sector, with a particular focus on greenhouse production.
More information: https://ofvga.org/article/ofvga-welcomes-federal-innovation-funding-for-greenhouse-automation-research
Submission to Ontario government on Bill 47
The OFVGA recently wrote to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to demonstrate its support for Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018.
Events we have or are Attending
November 1: Farm and Food Care Gala
November 9: Ontario Produce Marketing Association Gala
November 13-14: Canadian Centre for Food Integrity Public Trust Summit
November 19-20: Ontario Federation of Agriculture annual convention
November 20-21: Crop Protection Advisory Group meeting of the Canadian Horticulture Council
November 22: Meetings with NDP critics on agriculture, economic development, infrastructure, labour
November 27-29: Grow Canada Conference
November 29:Labour Resources for Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers short course by AMI
December 6: Agricultural Adaptation Council annual general meeting
December 13: Fresh Vegetable Growers annual general meeting
For more information on any items in this newsletter, please contact Gordon Stock, Senior Policy and Government Relations Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-763-6160, ext. 125.