Ontario Cattlemen Pleased with Support for Food and Farming Shown at Queen's

GUELPH, ON, June 4 /CNW/ - The Ontario Cattlemen's Association is thankful for the support shown in the Ontario Legislature yesterday for agriculture in this province. A resolution from Jim Wilson, PC Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the riding of Simcoe-Grey was debated during the afternoon, but was ultimately defeated. The resolution sought a commitment from the government of Ontario in support of reforms to the national AgriStability program and for a premium-based Business Risk Management Program (BRMP) to ease the financial burden being felt by so many farmers in Ontario.

In 2009, Ontario agriculture's net income was in the red by $50 million, a loss that is projected to be ten times greater - half a billion dollars - in 2010. Without feasible risk management programming, the future of the industry in Ontario is uncertain.

"It is no secret that Ontario agriculture is facing very serious economic conditions," says OCA President, Curtis Royal. "Figures recently released by Statistics Canada indicate that there is a continuing decline and a financial crisis that is much more severe than government had previously acknowledged. Despite the resolution having been defeated, Mr. Wilson has done well to make all MPPs, whether they're urban or rural, realize how dire the situation is, and we thank him for that."

Agricultural groups have been trying for months to get the point across that there is more at risk than Ontario's farmers and the 80,000 jobs they provide in the province. There are also spin-off jobs affected, like those in processing and further processing of Ontario's food products. This number is estimated to exceed 600,000 jobs.

The Ontario Cattlemen's Association has been lobbying actively on this front for some time but recently came together with other commodities to form the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition. The goal of that coalition is to bring one voice to the Ontario government - one voice for all commodities, with the same message that help is needed - quickly.

The resolution by MPP Wilson challenged the Government to act to help farmers by supporting reforms to the national AgriStability program at this year's meeting of the federal and provincial Ministers of Agriculture. It also asked for the creation of a comprehensive Business Risk Management Program, jointly funded by farmers and governments, as presented to the Province by the Ontario Agricultural Sustainability Coalition. Finally, it stated that regardless of any other level of government, the provincial share of the Business Risk Management Program should be in place for the 2009 production year.

"It's scary to think about the effects of losing even part of the agriculture sector in this province," says Curtis Royal, OCA President. "The jobs we generate and our economic contribution are more than notable - they're substantial - and the fall of our sector would have huge ramifications. Primary agriculture and its economic benefits need to be preserved. Mr. Wilson's resolution created awareness about food security and the ability to feed ourselves while sustaining a healthy economy and environment."

In Ontario the agricultural safety net programs are usually a shared responsibility between farmers, the provincial and the federal governments. Ontario beef producers want a BRMP that is fully funded and need both levels of government to contribute, along with our farmer-paid premiums to a sustainable program - for sustainable farms.

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.

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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