Hardeman Slams Premier Wynne for Replacing Ontario Agriculture Week
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s Agriculture Critic says that the Local Food Act that was re-introduced in the legislature Monday does little to enhance the province’s food system.
Ernie Hardeman (Oxford) MPP and PC Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says that Premier Wynne’s move to replace Ontario Agriculture Week is an insult to farmers.
“Everyone involved in agriculture knows that the week before thanksgiving is Ontario Agriculture Week, a time to recognize the contributions of our farmers and I am very disappointed Premier Wynne is proposing to replace it,” said Hardeman. “While it is important to celebrate local food, the government seems to have forgotten where that food comes from.”
If the Local Food Act is passed, it would replace Ontario Agriculture Week with Local Food Week. The designated week would start the Monday before Thanksgiving – which has been designated as Ontario Agriculture Week for 15 years.
“I am disappointed that the bill introduced today has very little substance and will not take any real action to improve our agriculture and food sectors,” said Hardeman. “In our white paper we put forward a number of proposals they could have included which would have a real impact such as creating a regional food terminal and implementing one-window access to government for farmers and agri-businesses.”
In the legislature on Monday, Hardeman provided some examples of local food groups who had been advocating for the Local Food Act to be strengthened, but said that Wynne failed to strengthen the act given the opportunity.
The Local Food Act is vague and uses works like the Minister “may” set targets for the public sector to “aspire” to respect of local food and on.
Celebrating only local food production, gives a distorted picture of the industry. According to OMAFRA, Farmers and food processors throughout Ontario contribute to a vibrant industry that generates $30 billion a year for the economy, employs 650,000 people, and ships $8.4 billion in exports every year. Ontario's food industry includes such sectors as cereal and flour, meat and poultry, beverages, fruit and vegetables, dairy, feed, bakery, and other food products. The U.S., Asia and Europe are the top destinations for Ontario food exports.