Grain Farmers of Ontario recommendations for the next agricultural policy framework

Letter: Grain Farmers of Ontario Chair Mark Brock to the Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (July 18, 2016)

GUELPH, ON (July 18, 2016) – Ontario's grain and oilseed sector is poised for growth. Growth in the grain and oilseed sector will increase jobs and economic activity in rural areas that depend on farming and provide a greater contribution to Canada's GDP.

An Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) designed to provide strategic investments in Ontario grain and oilseed farming will help farmers realize these economic opportunities for Canada and support grain and oilseed farmers' contributions to Canada's climate change goals.

Business Risk Management

A) Income Stability Programs

The Growing Forward 2 AgriStability program provided an avenue to help offset large losses in revenue from year to year, but changes made to the program have significantly reduced participation levels because the overall effectiveness of the program has been lost.

Recommendation: The next APF income stability program needs to be developed with the next generation of grain farmers in mind and the best way to do this is to establish a dedicated consultation process that looks at Canadian grain farmers and their unique needs.

B) Agri-Insurance

Crop Insurance has been a reliable support program for grain and oilseed farmers.

Recommendation: The current design of the Crop Insurance program should be continued without any adjustments.

C) Diversified Farms

Business Risk Management (BRM) program designs of the past have penalized diversified farms, putting them at a competitive disadvantage to non-diversified farms.

Recommendation: The effectiveness of BRM programs should be evaluated for diversified farms and non-diversified farms, to ensure a level playing field for both types of operations.

D) Beginning Farmers

Succession planning for Ontario grain and oilseed farms remains important for the future of the industry.

Recommendation: The next APF needs to include programs, funding, and infrastructure loans to assist in establishing new farmers for a long term future.

E) AgriInvest

AgriInvest assists farmers by encouraging cash investment today for countering unforeseeable challenges, as well as opportunities, in the future.

Recommendation: The AgriInvest program and structure should be included in the next APF.

Non-Business Risk Management Programs

I. Research & Commercialization

Recommendation: The funding of research, the transfer of knowledge, as well as opportunities for growing agriculture should continue with more emphasis and attention being placed on soil health, adaptation to climate change, and research into varieties that are tailored to Ontario's growing conditions. Dedicated resources are required for a national Fusarium research effort, corn germplasm development, as well as focused research for barley, oat, soybean, and wheat breeding programs. Programs should focus on long term strategies and outcomes partnered with administrative flexibility.

Program Administration Recommendations:

  • Funding awarded for research should be based on merit and be reflective to the size of the crop and its contribution to Canada's agriculture industry.
  • Provincial associations should have access to Agri-Marketing Funding for provincially based activities.
  • Funding awarded should be reflective of the size of the crop and its contribution to Canada's agriculture industry.

II. Environment and Climate Change

Recommendation: The next APF funding should be adaptable for new ideas and infrastructure that will be required under the new Climate Change agenda. These funds should focus on maintaining Ontario grain and oilseed competitiveness internationally and domestically, to ensure the industry is meeting the government's obligation to reduce GHG emissions in a fair manner. The APF should include mechanisms for ensuring a equitable, competitive, regulatory environment exists domestically for all grain and oilseed farmers.

III. Market Development

Recommendation: The new APF should improve market development activities and increase or improve market access for domestic and international markets. New marketing programs should help, not only to enter new markets, but also to strengthen and maintain a dominant presence in existing markets, to ensure a long-lasting customer base and relationships. Specifically the new APF should have targeted support for corn and soybean markets domestically and internationally including support for manufacturer value-add product infrastructure. The APF should include support for expanding the agriculture bioeconomy and increases to federal mandates for renewable fuels.

  • Increase to 5% for biodiesel by 2020.
  • Increase to 7.5% for ethanol by 2018.
  • Increase to 1 0% for ethanol by 2020.

Market development programs should focus on long term strategies and outcomes partnered with administrative flexibility.

Program Administration Recommendations:

  • Funding awarded for research should be based on merit and be reflective to the size of the crop and its contribution to Canada's agriculture industry.
  • Collaborative partner funding should be available to companies who may be based outside of Canada, but have an emphasis on Canadian commodities.
  • Approvals should be provided in a timely fashion and allow for non-repayable grants to be accessed by commercial companies.
  • Allowance should be made for use of market development funding to maintaining existing markets, in addition to accessing emerging markets (AMP).

IV. Social License

Recommendation: Agricultural production has increasingly become top-of-mind for Canadian consumers. The new APF should include ways to foster trust and increase transparency to support consumer understanding of the integrity of agricultural products produced by Canadian farmers.

V. Sustainability


  • Funding for the development of a national strategy on grain and oilseed sustainability through support for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops.
  • Provincial funding for farmers to further implement best management practices to showcase ongoing improvement as part of an overall national grain and oilseed sustainability strategy.

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March is often a time in the grain markets where we can see movement in the production area of South America, which can be impacted by weather events. The big US crop has long been put away and is slowly moving out to end-users across the greater hinterland. Problems in Argentina with severe drought conditions have dominated the landscape over the last 30 days as prices have gone up to become much more volatile based on this weather market. Increasingly so, farmers need to watch the weather maps of South America to get clues of production conditions in the southern hemisphere.

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