submitted by Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) welcomes new steps the provincial government is taking to ensure the ongoing resilience of Ontario’s food production system through its announcement of new funding for expanded veterinary training and an agricultural soil health and conservation strategy in yesterday’s provincial budget.
To improve access to veterinary care across Ontario, the government is investing $14.7 million over two years to launch a new collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program between the University of Guelph and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Additionally, the government has announced $900,000 over three years in student loan assistance for recently graduated veterinarians to practice livestock veterinary medicine in underserviced areas.
“The OFA has long identified the critical shortage of veterinarians in the livestock sector, particularly in large animal medicine, as one of the greatest problems facing farmers in Ontario, and we commend the provincial government for committing to new investments to meet this need,” says OFA President and northern Ontario dairy farmer Peggy Brekveld. “Limited veterinary capacity leaves people, animals and ultimately our food system at risk, and this multi-faceted approach will help maintain healthy, safe and sustainable food production.”
The provincial government also announced a $9.5 million investment over three years for developing and implementing the Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy to improve soil data mapping, evaluation and monitoring in Ontario. It’s a long-term framework that will set the vision, goals and objectives for soil health and conservation in Ontario to 2030, with accompanying actions and methods to measure progress.
“We appreciate the provincial government’s foresight in supporting local food production and long-term agri-food supply chain stability with this investment into the future health and preservation of our soils – truly one of our most valuable resources,” says OFA Vice President Drew Spoelstra, a dairy and crop farmer in the Hamilton area. “Soil health has been a key priority for OFA for many years, and although many soil best management practices are already widely used by Ontario farmers, better tools like modernized soil maps will help us do an even better job at producing food as sustainably as possible.”
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province and serving as the leading advocate and strongest voice of Ontario’s farmers. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA represents and champions the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobbying efforts, community representation, media relations and more.