By Nathan Stevens
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario recently submitted comments on the Ontario budget. We believe that the province plays a critical role in ensuring that the business climate and the supporting infrastructure are right for farming to succeed. The CFFO has three key messages for our government.
Our first message was for the Ontario Government to stay the course in balancing the budget. We have consistently called on government to set getting its fiscal house in order as its highest priority and it remains our key message. Our government needs to continue on the path of balancing the budget with selective, limited and prudent additional spending that increases the potential of businesses in Ontario. There is very little that could destabilize the business climate in Ontario more swiftly than downgrading of credit scores and increased interest rates. The CFFO strongly urges the Ontario government to stay the course.
Our second recommendation was for the government to invest in the productivity of the agriculture sector. Any new spending in agriculture should be focused on infrastructure that will improve the productivity of food production in the long-run. For example, the CFFO believes that investments in water management infrastructure, which include improvements in irrigation, drainage and storage, will improve the productivity of land, and thus the productivity of the sector.
Our third recommendation is for Ontario to invest in market intelligence resources for agriculture. The CFFO believes that in an era of growing trade opportunities in agriculture, there is merit in committing additional government resources in finding a variety of opportunities for businesses. First, there is the opportunity to attract European food makers to Ontario that are looking to produce goods for the 100 million people within a one day drive of Toronto. Second, OMAF needs the resources to help farmers, processors, and the farm supply industry to find opportunities in the expanding number of free-trade zones that exist, particularly in Europe, and soon within the countries that sign onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We can improve the odds of individual business success through government led information gathering.
The CFFO believes that Ontario needs to be focused on keeping its fiscal house in order, to invest in infrastructure that will improve the productivity of Ontario and to invest in market intelligence gathering focused on new business opportunities for Ontario farm and food businesses. We need a stable business climate and targeted support to grow the agriculture sector for the future.