From the Policy Desk – Look Back at 2023

December 1, 2023 | Suzanne Armstrong, Ph.D., Director of Policy & Research for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario

From the Policy Desk – Look Back at 2023

2023 has been a busy year. We have advocated on behalf of farmers to both the federal and provincial governments on a number of issues. At the federal level, we continue to press for relief from policies that are adding unfair costs to farmers, including the current tariff on fertilizer from Russia. We have also written to Canadian Senators requesting that they support carbon price exemptions for farmers in Bill C-234.

At the provincial level, three key issues continue; abattoir inspections, access to veterinary care, and protecting farmland. On all three of these issues we have seen progress and clear indications that government is listening. That being said, more progress needs to be made, and CFFO will continue to advocate for positive changes that support farmers and a thriving agricultural sector now and into the future.

In terms of abattoir inspections, processors and farmers now have access to more information when an animal is condemned. While this will not change the determination, this information can help prevent similar issues in the future. The CFFO still wants to see better working relationships between inspectors and processors, where both parties work efficiently together to bring food safely to the consumer.

Access to veterinary care continues to be a challenge. The Ontario government has introduced funding to increase tele-medicine veterinary advice, and incentives to help underserviced communities attract veterinarians to serve in their areas. A new program at Lakehead University will offer veterinary medicine in northern Ontario, in hopes students will then serve remote communities where they have trained. However, it will be years before we see a real impact from increasing the number of graduates specializing in large or mixed animal care, both from Guelph and Lakehead.

With an ongoing housing crisis, working to protect farmland has proven to be challenging. Public support to protect Ontario’s Greenbelt clearly shows that many see the need to balance new housing supply while protecting farmland and natural features like woodlots and wetlands. Farmers and eaters alike can celebrate that the public values farmland.

We are pleased to see government listening to these concerns. The Ontario government reinstated lands removed from the Greenbelt and reversed provincial changes to municipal official plans for 12 municipalities. This supports local governments’ efforts to protect farmland while still increasing housing options within settlement area boundaries.

There is a need for more affordable housing options, and the CFFO continues to recommend developing land already designated for housing and increased density within settlement areas.

The CFFO addressed many other issues, national, provincial and local, over the course of 2023. You can find our submissions on our website. If you have an issue impacting your farm or your community, please reach out to CFFO staff or leadership and let us know.

We at CFFO keep working every day to bring farmers’ concerns to decision-makers. We look forward to new opportunities for positive changes in 2024.

Suzanne Armstrong is Director of Policy & Research for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy.