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Ontario farmers worried about global food supply

Ontario farmers worried about global food supply

Over 50 countries depend on agri-food from Russia and Ukraine.

By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Photo via Pixabay.com

Along with the destabilization of eastern Europe, the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine is threatening to jeopardize the global food supply chain, a risk that could impact the 2022 crop season, drive up prices in the short term and lead to widespread famine in at-risk regions by next year, warn Ontario farmers.

[ED. Note: Farms.com has already written on this subject with more of a Ukraine focus https://www.farms.com/ag-industry-news/war-in-ukraine-leading-to-global-food-shortages-624.aspx]

On Friday, March 18, 2022, the Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the Ontario Agri Business Association held a briefing for provincial and federal government officials to outline the risks and challenges facing farmers for the planting of the coming season, and the impact the Russia-Ukraine War could have on Ontario’s food supply. It also discussed the impact of a CP rail strike set to begin on March 20.

The group noted: Farmers in Ukraine and Russia produce about a quarter of the world’s calories, with key regions in North Africa and the Middle East dependent on their production. But this supply chain has been significantly jeopardized by the tragic geopolitical events unfolding in Ukraine. This is forecast to result in a spike in food prices between eight and 22 per cent over the coming months, and many agriculture economists are predicting famine in several African countries within the next 18 months.

How policymakers, farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture value chain respond to this crisis over the next few weeks is critical, and will determine how much food will be available in Ontario, Canada and around the world.

It is vitally important that Ontario find ways to maximize its production of livestock feed and grain in the 2022 growing season, which will also require strategies to manage the shortfall in fertilizer that is expected to materialize because of sanctions against Russia.

“The Grain Farmers of Ontario stand with the people of Ukraine, and the efforts Canada and its partners are making to restore peace in the region. We hosted this event today to share with policymakers the role Ontario’s grain production can make to help address and alleviate the food supply concerns that are unfolding around the world. Farmers in Ontario take seriously their duty to produce food, and we wanted to raise the issues we face completing that task,” stated Brendan Byrne, Chair, GFO Board of Directors.

Peggy Brekveld, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture agreed: “The war in Ukraine is tragic, and OFA is united with our brethren Ukrainian farmers who have had their livelihoods ripped apart and lives put at risk. Ontario is Canada’s most productive region, and Ontario farmers are eager to do what is required to produce the food people rely on us to grow. But in light of these geopolitical matters, compounded by last year’s drought in Western Canada and South America, we can’t do it alone.”

Added Russel Hurst, Executive Director, Ontario Agri-Business Association: “The tragic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are creating great concern and uncertainty heading into this year’s planting season. Suppliers are facing several potential obstacles that could prove to be very disruptive for farmers.

Canada’s food system has already endured supply chain challenges due to the pandemic, and now we must prepare and adjust for global fertilizer supply shortages as well a potential CP Rail labour disruption, just weeks before planting. The situation is dire and needs immediate attention.”

The GFO, OFA and OABA have been meeting with government representatives in Canada as well as in the province of Ontario, one-on-one over the past few weeks to discuss the issues facing the 2022 spring planting to mitigate the risks of input supplies arriving on-time as well as price shocks to key inputs.

For information on the Grain Farmers of Ontario, visit https://gfo.ca/.

To learn more about the Ontario Federation of Agriculture visit https://ofa.on.ca/.

More information on the Ontario Agri Business Association can be found at https://www.oaba.on.ca/.


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