The provincial budget dropped OMAFRA spending
By Diego Flammini
To help restore fiscal balance by 2023-24, the Conservative government cut funding for some ministries – including OMAFRA – in Friday’s budget.
OMAFRA’s spending allotment drops from $1.06 billion in 2018-2019 to about $839 million in 2019-2020, the budget says.
The cut in the provincial ag budget is displeasing, said Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“We are concerned with the OMAFRA budget cutbacks and will be reviewing these details carefully once spending estimates are available,” he said in a statement Friday.
The provincial budget also touched on the government’s accomplishments since taking office in June, including setting up an advisory group to help ensure the ag sector can be competitive without regulatory interferences.
The Conservatives also assisted farmers managing DON in their corn, made changes to the Ontario Feeder Cattle Loan Guarantee Program and updated the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, the budget said.
In addition, the government’s budget included plans for the ag industry.
The Conservatives are proposing changes to the Farm Products Payments Act that would “modernize Ontario’s financial protection programs to achieve less prescriptive administration, cost savings and reduce regulatory burden for farm businesses,” the budget says.
To reduce administrative burdens, the government will hold stakeholder discussions to streamline the certification processes of more than 20 OMAFRA-delivered programs.
Ontario’s government also has plans for risk management programs.
Officials are “exploring options to expand the Risk Management Program in the future to better support farmers and producers in managing risks that are beyond their control,” the budget document says.
The government committed to helping Ontario horse breeders.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation will provide up to $105 million per year to horsepeople and racetracks in the province. The government will provide another $10 million per year to support breeding and industry development.
And Doug Ford’s government wants underserved Ontarians to have access to reliable broadband.
The budget lays out a plan to invest $315 million over five years. Doing so “allows communities and businesses to fully participate in the digital economy,” the document says.
Farms.com has reached out to members of Ontario’s ag community for comments on the provincial budget.
The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn photo