Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs issued the following statement in advance of the upcoming Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture meeting:
“As the annual meeting with my Federal-Provincial-Territorial colleague Ministers of Agriculture is fast approaching, yesterday I met with Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector leaders to discuss what more we can do to support Ontario farmers and food processors in ensuring our food supply chain remains strong and that people continue to have access to safe, local food.
Farmers are continuously impacted by market volatility and disruptions which worsened due to COVID-19. In July, the Ontario government committed to expanding the provincial Risk Management Program by $50 million, a year earlier than planned, but we need the federal government to agree to meaningful enhancements to the suite of national business risk management tools that farmers can access.
The provincial government and the Ontario agri-food sector stand united in calling for federal action to assist farmers. The problems our agriculture sector face are national in scope and therefore require a national solution.
We are requesting the federal government provide additional federal government support through immediate enhancement of the federal-provincial-territorial AgriStability program to ensure our farmers get the support they need. We are also asking the federal government to remove the feature of AgriStability, called the Reference Margin Limit, and to lower the margin-loss threshold required to trigger program payments to provide more coverage against income declines.
These improvements are important to support our farmers in confidently continuing to operate at a time of uncertainty related to trade, markets, supply chain disruptions and COVID-19.
I will continue to advocate for the sector and urge federal government action and leadership at the upcoming Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Agriculture meeting. We will keep pressing for immediate enhancements to AgriStability to ensure farmers can better manage risks and to ensure Ontario and Canada’s food supply stays strong.”