What We Have Been Working on For You: OFVGA Activities Update May 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 Three Issues
Crop protection re-evaluations
Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the cancellation of all tree fruit applications of three neonicotinoid pesticides (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin) currently under re-evaluation. It also cancelled soil applications to berries, fruiting vegetables (except greenhouse), and cucurbits (except greenhouse). As well, foliar application to other crops including berries, grapes, fruiting vegetables, and cucurbits, will be limited before and/or during bloom. Read more here: https://www.ofvga.org/article/ofvga-statement-on-neonicotinoid-pollinator-review.
Latest status: OFVGA continues to work on the re-evaluation of Mancozeb along with the registrants. Although no decision has been released yet, the review process is proceeding positively and there is an opportunity for it to be a model to follow for future product re-evaluations. OFVGA’s efforts to seek improvements to the PMRA re-evaluation process are ongoing.
PACA-style trust to protect fruit and vegetable growers
OFVGA continues to push for implementation of a PACA-like trust in Canada to protect growers. In the U.S., the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) licenses buyers of produce to ensure that those who sell produce receive payment for their products. It also established legislation that protects produce sellers when buyers fail to pay and become insolvent. Fruit and vegetable farmers from across Canada are asking for the establishment of a made-in-Canada PACA-trust style program that extends the same benefits to the Canadian produce industry as in the U.S.
Latest status: It is not anticipated that this will be in place before the federal election this fall, so OFVGA has started looking at strategies for getting a PACA-style trust onto all of the federal party campaign platforms in advance of the fall federal election.
A day at Queen’s Park
On April 10, OFVGA board and staff spent the day at Queen’s Park as part of the organization’s first-ever government relations day. The goal was simply to introduce the OFVGA and give politicians and staff a flavour of the size and scope of the sector and its contribution to the provincial economy. OFVGA met with three cabinet ministers: Todd Smith of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; Laurie Scott of Labour; and Ernie Hardman of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Meetings were also held with staff from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Energy, and Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, as well as MPP John Vanthof, Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition and Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, and Guelph MPP Michael Schreiner of the Green Party.
Latest status: The day was well attended and received and OFVGA is looking at options for hosting a second event in the fall.
Other Files We are Keeping an Eye On
The provincial government released its first budget on April 11. Although it contained a reduction in the budget of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, few details have been released to date on how this will be implemented. On a positive note, the OFVGA is aware that OMAFRA is proceeding with filling the plant pathologist position, which was left vacant in 2018 due to staff retirement.
Latest status: OFVGA is waiting for more information about where cuts will be made and what the impact will be on the sector.
Public trust and outreach
Representatives from Farm & Food Care Ontario provided the board with an update of the organization’s activities. OFVGA is a platinum member of Farm & Food Care, whose mandate is to support public trust in the Canadian food supply. The first of two 2019 Breakfast on the Farm events will be held June 22 in Tecumseh; the second will be held on fruit and vegetable farm in September. Farm & Food Care has also just launched a new social media initiative called Faces Behind Food that tells the stories of people who work in the food and farming sector from truck drivers and mechanics to farmers, nutritionists and processing plant employees.
Latest status: OFVGA was proud to become a platinum member in 2018, and encourages Farm & Food Care to continue its active role in public trust and outreach.
Presidents’ Council study
There is ongoing discussion among Presidents’ Council members about how the entity could be part of the public trust file. An initial strategy is being developed and the Council is seeking financial support from its members for the project.
Latest status: OFVGA’s board has agreed to financially support this initial phase of the work.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Growers are encouraged to look into Employment Practices Liability Insurance and consider whether it might make sense for their operations. Coverage can offer protection against the costs of employment litigation as mounting a defense in a court case can be very costly.
Recent news from OFVGA
OFVGA response to the province’s litter and waste discussion paper
OFVGA statement on neonicotinoid pollinator review
OFVGA response to proposed Emission Performance Standards
Recent news from OMAFRA
Listening and Learning to Support Agri-food Businesses
Supporting farmers’ mental health
Minister’s statement on Agricorp chair appointment http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/infores/releases/2019/apr-16.htm
Helping farmers grow their businesses and support good jobs
Events have or are Attending
April 2-4: Canadian Produce Marketing Association trade show, Montreal QC
April 10: OFVGA Queen’s Park Day, 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
April 25: Queen’s Park Food Drive, Toronto 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-763-6160, ext. 125.