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Ontario’s new ag minister is ready to get to work

Ontario’s new ag minister is ready to get to work

Rob Flack became the new ag minister in a recent cabinet shuffle

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Ontario’s new minister of agriculture, food and agribusiness figured something was up when Premier Doug Ford asked to speak with him.

“I walked out of the legislature and into his office,” Rob Flack told Farms.com. “He asked me, and I was thrilled, and more so honoured and humbled in the great show of confidence.”

Flack, the MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, received the appointment during a June 6 cabinet shuffle that included former ag minister Lisa Thompson moving from agriculture into a separate portfolio strictly for rural affairs.

The main difference in Minister Flack’s new title is the agribusiness portion.

Ontario ag contributes almost $50 billion to GDP, employs one in nine people between the farm gate and the consumer’s plate, and exports over $26 billion of goods.

“The premier wants to view agrifood through the lens of economic growth,” the minister said. “As a job creator, as a sustainable industry which it already is, and to attract investments.”

There are four jobs in ag for every University of Guelph graduate, the minister added.

Minister Flack brings decades of experience in ag to the portfolio.

“I’ve lived this business my entire life,” he said.

He grew up in Streetsville in Mississauga, and his mother’s family had a farm in the Ottawa Valley. His father was a teacher.

During summers he’d work on farms in both communities baling hay and milking cows.

He began his career with MasterFeeds Inc. in 1979 after graduating with a degree in agriculture from the University of Guelph. He became the company’s president and CEO in 1993 before retiring in 2022.

He’s also a farmer, raising Hereford cattle on Flack Farms.

When asked about a top issue facing Ontario producers, the minister said the carbon tax.

“Bar none, full stop it’s the carbon tax,” he said. “It is a punitive tax, it’s wrong and is going to cost Ontario grain and oilseed producers, by 2030, $2.7 billion.”

As the minister gets caught up to speed on the ag file, he’s hearing from stakeholders.

He has meetings scheduled with reps from the Ontario ag industry next week and is organizing a listening and learning tour for the summer.

“Whoever touches a piece of Ontario agriculture and food, I want to listen and learn from,” he said.

Minister Flack will have about a month before he’s off to a meeting with provincial counterparts.

The annual federal-provincial-territorial ag ministers’ meeting is scheduled to take place in Whitehorse, Yukon in July.


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