Lisa Thompson has been the provincial ag minister for just over six months
By Diego Flammini
A little over six months have passed since Ontario got a new ag minister.
Lisa Thompson, the MPP for Huron-Bruce, replaced Ernie Hardeman as Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs on June 18, 2021, as part of a cabinet shuffle.
During this short time as ag minister, Thompson is impressed by how Ontario producers navigate challenges and continue to learn.
“I always knew farmers did amazing work,” she told Farms.com. “But their willingness to address things that arise as we manage the COVID pandemic and embrace the importance of new technology and work with government and support new research is something I’ve really come to appreciate.”
While Thompson is impressed by Ontario farmers, she’s not surprised by their hard work.
She grew up on a farm and lives on a farm which has been in her husband Dennis’s family for more than 120 years. Before politics she was the general manager of the Ontario Dairy Goat Cooperative and is a graduate of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program.
Working hard is part of being a farmer. Being able to represent their interests in the legislature is an honour, she said.
“My pride in our commodity organizations has grown in the last six months,” she said. “Our farmers are very astute and have great business sense. That gives me great confidence to know I have quality partnerships to work with.”
Like many industries, agriculture has its challenges.
For Thompson, educating consumers about how their food is produced is top of mind.
“We have to make sure consumers in Ontario know what it means to be farming in 2022 and beyond,” she said. “We also need to be ensuring they value the importance of growing and producing and processing good quality food. We have to keep strong two-way communication going and encourage that awareness.”
Research and good stewardship are also important topics for the ag sector.
Not only to show consumers, but also to show the federal government Ontario farmers are on the cutting edge of modern farming practices.
“We have to show we’re leading by example when it comes to best practices,” she said. “This includes everything from the four Rs to precision agriculture and telling our story loud and proud.”
One challenge for Thompson and all Ontario politicians this year is the upcoming provincial election.
Her goal, aside from re-election, is to ensure Ontario’s ag sector is in a position to thrive, no matter the outcome of the election.
“It’s my priority to ensure all the amazing and good things that we’ve introduced in support of Ontario farmers and the overall food supply chain grow strong roots,” she said. “That way, when the writ gets dropped, I’ve left the industry in good shape.”