Cattlemen Partner with Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to
Showcase Ontario Beef for Hundreds at Queen's Park

GUELPH, ON, June 4 /CNW/ - Representatives of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Cattlemen's Association (OCA) were in Toronto yesterday for their 7th Annual Queen's Park Barbecue on the front lawn of the Ontario Legislature. The barbecue has become the highlight of a very full day for the OCA Board of Directors as they meet with Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to discuss current challenges for the Ontario beef industry.

Partnering with Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, The Honourable Carol Mitchell, to host the event, OCA's leaders were pleased with the turnout.

"This lobby day and barbecue is our chance to bring our issues forward in a very public and well-received manner," says Curtis Royal, OCA President. "It's an opportunity to remind our elected Members that we are a large industry which contributes greatly to the economy but it also allows us to underline that we need their help to see long-term sustainability for our producers. By including a barbecue, we get the chance to showcase our great product - Ontario beef."

During the day, OCA Directors and staff had the chance to meet with many MPPs and spotlight the economic impact of the Ontario beef industry on the province's economy. Other messages included the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition and its mandate on behalf of certain agricultural commodities; the need for "bridge" funding until workable programs are implemented to help farmers; and the need for Ontario beef producers to be able to stay competitive with producers in other Canadian provinces.

"We know that our farmers are having a tough time", said Minister Mitchell in a meeting with the Directors of the Ontario Cattlemen's Association. "I am looking forward to the upcoming Federal-Provincial-Territorial meeting in July, at which I intend to have a full and frank discussion with my provincial counterparts as well as the Federal Minister of Agriculture."

The barbecue, which has become one of the most highly anticipated events with MPPs and their staff, is the flagship of a consistent provincial lobby effort on behalf of Ontario beef producers. This year, as well as the Minister herself, OCA was pleased that Ontario Premier, The Honourable Dalton McGuinty took the time to show his support for the industry by greeting OCA Directors and serving Ontario Corn-Fed Beef to barbecue attendees. Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP Leader again took a turn in slicing the beef for guests, as did Ernie Hardeman, Agriculture Critic for the Ontario PC Party. Close to 600 people were served.

"We are very fortunate to have a Minister who hails from a very important beef-producing area of Ontario," concludes Royal. "The Minister knows our product and knows our issues and we are lucky that she is a big supporter of our industry. When we hold events like this, it isn't to preach to the converted, it's to show the Minister's colleagues in Cabinet, and all urban MPPs, who might not have agriculture top-of-mind, that they cannot forget us. We have an amazing product and a great industry, but unfortunately, the current economic situation means we are continuing to lose equity. And, as a result, we're going to lose producers if we don't see help from the province".

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The Ontario Cattlemen's Association (OCA) represents the interests of 19,000 Ontario beef producers. OCA promotes Ontario beef cattle production through policy planning, government lobbying, industry development programs, research, and communications along with the promotion and advertisement of beef. OCA also provides services to cattlemen in domestic and export market development and market pricing co-ordination and reporting.

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SOURCE Ontario Cattlemen's Association

For further information: For further information: Curtis Royal, OCA President, (705) 466-2162; Lianne Appleby, OCA Communications Manager, (519) 824-0334

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Ontario Cattlemen's Association

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