THE VOICE OF ONTARIO'S FRUIT, VEGETABLE
AND GREENHOUSE PRODUCERS FOROVER 150 YEARS

What We Have Been Working on For You: OFVGA Activities Update April 2019

 

What We're Working on For You

This new regular newsletter is to keep you, our members, informed about what the key issues and files are that OFVGA is currently tackling on behalf of growers.

Top Issue This Month

Canadian Horticultural Council Annual Meeting

OFVGA representatives attended the annual meeting of the Canadian Horticultural Council in Halifax in early March. Ontario apple grower Brian Gilroy will serve another year as President of CHC, while greenhouse grower Jan VanderHout was elected First Vice President. OFVGA Chair Bill George is part of the CHC Board, and four other Ontario representatives are involved with CHC committees in chair or vice-chair roles. Eight of the nine Ontario-submitted resolutions were passed at the CHC annual meeting.

Latest status: We will continue to be working closely with CHC on key issues including crop protection, PACA-like trust, food safety and labour as the federal election approaches. OFVGA representatives will be supporting a spring lobby event being held on Parliament Hill in May. Preparations have begun for the CHC summer meeting, which will be hosted by Ontario in July. 
 

Other files we are keeping an eye on

Self-Directed Risk Management (SDRM)

OFVGA has been meeting with officials from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister’s Office regarding the Self-Directed Risk Management (SDRM) program. The program will remain unchanged for 2019.  

Latest status: OFVGA’s goal is to ensure the program continues to operate effectively and is meeting the needs of fruit and vegetable growers.

Federal budget

The federal budget included several positive announcements for horticulture, such as development of a National Food Policy. As well, agriculture and fisheries with sales to affiliated corporations will be able to regain access to the small business tax deduction. Regulatory modernization is also a theme within the federal budget.

Latest status: OFVGA will be closely following the National Food Policy to see how the organization can contribute to and support its development. Opportunities to leverage regulatory modernization on key issues such on crop protection registrations will also be investigated.

Fuel charge exemption

Fuel charge exemption certificates from the Canada Revenue Agency are required as of April 1 to exempt Ontario farmers and greenhouse operators from fuel charges under the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Farmers and greenhouse operators will need to give a signed exemption certificate (Form L402 for farmers or L404 for greenhouse operators) to a registered distributor that delivers the fuel and keep a copy in their files. The forms are not to be sent to CRA. More information is available here (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/excise-taxes-duties-levies/fuel-charge.html). Farmers are encouraged to work with your fuel supplier to ensure you are not billed unnecessarily for the carbon tax on exempted or relieved fuels.

Ontario Agriculture Advisory Group

Three representatives from horticulture are part of the advisory group convened by Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman to look at competitiveness of the agricultural sector. The group’s scope also includes providing “input on crucial future decisions such as changes to the Ontario Food Terminal network for the next five, 10 and 50 years.” Randy Pettapiece, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, is chair of the group.

Latest status: OFVGA is working to ensure all group members are aware of issues that affect the fruit and vegetable sector, including red tape reduction.

Minor Use Priority Setting Workshop

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pest Management Centre (PMC) hosted the 17th national minor use priority setting workshop in Ottawa during the third week of March. The purpose of this meeting was to review the top minor use priorities identified by each of the provinces for all crops including ornamentals and to establish the top priority projects for PMC to work on in 2020, ideally leading to new registrations for growers. Ontario was very well represented at the meeting, especially by our provincial minor use coordinator Jim Chaput. Of the 37 total projects selected, 21 were for fruit and vegetable crops grown by OFVGA’s members.

Hours of work under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

Employment and Social Development Canada has confirmed to F.A.R.M.S. that employment contracts under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) do not restrict a work day to eight hours per day. Any time worked in excess of eight hours per day has always been through mutual agreement between workers and the employers.

Latest status: ESDC is working with Service Canada Integrity Services Branch as to what adequately defines consent and F.A.R.M.S. will provide guidelines to employers when available.

Proposed legislation by Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks

OFVGA is submitting comments to the provincial government in response to its proposed carbon pricing plan for Ontario. The submission can be found at https://www.ofvga.org/article/ero-number-013-4551-making-polluters-accountable-industrial-emission-performance-standards

OFVGA is also closely watching a proposal around litter and waste that may include a reduction or ban on single use plastics and will provide comments to request adequate transition time and ensure no negative impact on the competitiveness of the sector. The proposal can be accessed at https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4689and comments are due April 20, 2019.

Latest status: Growers and packers must still have access to adequate materials for packaging fresh produce that maintains food safety and practical and affordable for businesses.

Government wants to Reduce Red Tape - how can we help?

A key focus of the current government, which has indicated companies face some 380,000 regulations in this province, is to reduce red tape. The government’s target is to cut regulations by 25 per cent over four years.
OFVGA would like to hear from you. What activities is your operation (i.e. you and/or your employees) required to do over the course of the year that get in the way of being productive?  Please complete this brief SURVEY and return to Stefan Larrass at slarrass@ofvga.org to have your voice heard.
 

Recent news from OMAFRA:

March 7, 2019 - Ontario Agricultural Leaders Working Together to Strengthen the Sector
March 18, 2019 - Standing Up for Ontario Farmers
March 18, 2019 - Ontario Launches New Local Food Goal
March 25, 2019 - Recognizing Outstanding Retailer Support for Ontario Produce

Events we Have or Are Attending
March 19-20: Minor Use Priority Setting meetings, Gatineau QC
March 27-28: Muck Vegetable Growers’ Conference, Bradford ON April 2-4: Canadian Produce Marketing Association trade show, Montreal QC
April 10: OFVGA Queen’s Park Reception, Toronto ON
April 10: Farm & Food Care annual meeting and speakers’ program, Milton ON
April 24-25: Canadian Corrugated and Containerboard Association and AICC Canada trade show and convention, Mississauga ON
May 7: Canadian Horticultural Council and Canadian Produce Marketing Association spring lobby day, Ottawa ON
 

For more information on any items in this newsletter, please contact Gordon Stock, Senior Policy and Government Relations Advisor, at gstock@ofvga.org or 519-763-6160, ext. 125.