June 8, 2018
Dear John Vanthof,
Congratulations on your re-election and the NDP’s role as official opposition party. The NFU-O is looking forward to a better working relationship with you and your fellow MPPs across Ontario to promote an agriculture system that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable and leads to enriched soils, biodiverse ecosystems, financially-viable farms, healthy and safe food, and thriving rural communities.
In the NDP’s response to our election questions, you identified policies to protect family farms, and we want to help you put those in place. You noted, “Ontarians should have access to a safe and reliable supply of food, grown in Ontario where possible; 2) that Ontario farm families need a stable, profitable income to ensure the long-term future of family farms; and 3) that Ontario needs a policy framework that ensures that Ontario’s farmland remains productive for all Ontario farmers,” and we couldn’t agree more.
We want you to continue promoting and investing in rural Ontario, stopping school closures, and bringing rural broadband internet to Ontario. As well, we want you to take a look at regulations that have posed a significant barrier for next generation succession and for new entry farmers; that have imposed near-federal standards onto provincial small-scale abattoirs where compliance costs are unrealistic and unfair for the business model to survive; and that have imposed ever increasing standards for municipal infrastructure projects and services, such as road construction, fire services, and policing, while failing to ensure that funding supports match the dictates from Queen’s Park.
We encourage you to work with your colleagues in Queen’s Park to create a farmland-centric plan for Ontario’s growth. As shown in both our own research and in the Senate of Canada’s report, urban sprawl, fueled by non-farm speculative acquisition, presents a clear threat for the protection of prime agricultural farmland. Developer-driven growth should not supersede community wishes.
Every citizen has the right to define and control their own food systems as well as being able to access and afford Ontario-produced healthy, high quality food, which is grown or raised in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable manner. This is not compatible with an export driven food program which places corporate profits above Ontarians’ rights to access food first. Without real public policy, the government-fueled trend to larger farm operations, as well as farmland being purchased by non-farm speculative sources, is a threat to Canadian food sovereignty.
As you settle in to your new position, take some time to think ahead. What does Ontario food production look like in 50 years? Who owns the land; who are the people farming it; who controls the offerings for food choice; and what changes need to take place immediately to bring about a thriving agricultural system?
If you’ve got questions on farming issues, come talk to us, the farmers. We’d love to meet with you to talk about agriculture priorities over the next few years The National Farmers Union – Ontario provides valuable insight into agriculture and represents thousands of farmers across the province, and we can work with you to create better solutions.
National Farmers Union – Ontario President
To read our letter to Premier Elect Ford, click here.
To read our letter to MPP Mike Schreiner, click here.