Results-Based Plan Briefing Book 2006-07
Table of Contents
The Ontario government has a plan to strengthen the province by strengthening its greatest asset - its people. It's a plan that invests in key priorities such as infrastructure, health and education.
Under this plan, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has a key role to play: The ministry's priorities are to strengthen Ontario's agri-food sector, enforce and improve food safety, protect our environment and strengthen Ontario's rural communities.
Supporting these priorities are strategies aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, contributing to better health and a cleaner environment, and encouraging increased investments and jobs in rural Ontario. Activities are focused on creating a more competitive business climate; providing leadership to innovation in research; transferring leading-edge technology to farmers; supporting increased investment and jobs in rural communities, in the food processing industry and in the bio-economy; ensuring a safe food supply for Ontarians; contributing to a cleaner environment by supporting enhanced nutrient management practices and bio-fuels; and promoting and marketing Ontario's agri-food products.
The ministry consults extensively with stakeholders and works collaboratively with many partners in industry, other ministries and other levels of government to deliver programs and services that contribute to strengthening the province.
OMAFRA continues to work with the federal government to implement the current, five-part Agricultural Policy Framework, which will see more than $1.7 billion invested in Ontario's agri-food sector by the end of 2008. In advance of negotiating a new agreement, the ministry has developed a plan for the agri-food sector which focuses on investing in research and development to promote sector growth, including the bioeconomy; developing markets through a branding strategy for Ontario agri-food products; and strengthening the foundation of farm incomes building on current programs and developing new ones to address short-term income declines.
OMAFRA also has a rural plan that addresses the unique health, educational, social economic development and infrastructure needs of rural areas. The ministry plays a key role in delivering programs in which hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in our rural communities, to help improve their bridges, roads, solid waste management facilities, water and wastewater treatment facilities, as well as revitalize their economies, enhance local skills and increase access to health care services.
To better serve the agri-food industry, OMAFRA relies on a total of 12 agencies, boards and commissions. Some, such as the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal, have an adjudicative role. Others are operational services and enterprises. Agricorp, for example, administers production insurance programs to provide farmers with protection against natural hazards and delivers income stabilization payments. The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission is a regulatory agency which supervises the province's 21 marketing boards and three representative commodity associations.
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Organization Chart
The following is a complete list for which the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible:
The following is a complete list for which the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible. Only those entities with assets, liabilities, revenues or expenses greater than $50 million, or an annual surplus or deficit or outside revenue source of greater than $10 million are consolidated in the ministry's Results-based Plan.
AgriCorp (Operational Enterprise)
AgriCorp, a crown corporation established in January 1997, has responsibility for the functions of the former Crop Insurance Commission of Ontario. It administers crop insurance programs to provide farmers with protection against natural hazards, such as weather disasters. Crop insurance is available in Ontario for more than 50 commercially grown crops.
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal (Adjudicative Agency)
The role of the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal is to provide an accessible, efficient, independent, fair appeal process and responsible decisions, to anyone aggrieved by a decision that is appealable to the Tribunal under its legislative mandate. The Tribunal hears applications and appeals made under 20 statutes including the Drainage Act, the Milk Act, the Farm Products Marketing Act, the Crop Insurance Act, the Assessment Act and also the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002. All members of the Tribunal are cross-appointed to a Board of Negotiation which may mediate disputes under the Environmental Protection Act.
Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Directorate of Ontario (ARDDO) (Operational Enterprise)
ARDDO's role is to administer the programs and lands held under the Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Act (ARDA). ARDDO is currently in the process of disposing of all properties at which point the Directorate will be disbanded and the ARDA legislation will be repealed.
Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) (Operational Service)
The role of the ARIO is to: provide advice to the Minister on ministry funded research with respect to agriculture, food, veterinary medicine and consumer studies; select and recommend new areas of research for the betterment of agriculture, food, veterinary medicine and consumer studies; and stimulate interest in research as a means of developing a high degree of efficiency in the production and marketing of agricultural and food products in Ontario. This is the first year that ARIO has been consolidated in the ministry's Results-based Plan.
Board of Negotiations (Adjudicative Agency)
The role of the Board of Negotiations is to facilitate the settling of claims for crop damage due to the release of a contaminant into the environment. (Consolidated into the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal as of Dec. 1999)
Boards Under the Farm Products Payments Act
Under the Farm Products Payments Act, funds and boards are established to: protect producers from non-payment by dealers; investigate claims; grant or refuse payment of claims; and, determine the amounts and manner of payment. Boards administering funds under the Farm Products Payment Act are the Grain Financial Protection Board, and Livestock Financial Protection Board. All boards under this Act are "regulatory agencies" with most program administration costs being absorbed by the ministry and all board expenses being absorbed by the respective funds.
Livestock Medicines Advisory Committee (Advisory Agency)
This agency reviews all legislation and regulations pertaining to livestock medicines; inquires into and reports to the Minister on any matter referred to the committee by the Minister; advises the Minister on matters relating to the control and regulation of livestock medicines and evaluates and recommends procedures relating to the sale of livestock medicines and proper standards for maintenance, handling and storage of livestock medicines; makes recommendations with respect to the description of drugs, or classes of drugs, as livestock medicines and the designation of livestock medicines for sale under a licence or any class of licence.
Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (Adjudicative Agency)
The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board hears appeals which arise under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998.
Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (Regulatory Agency)
The Commission supervises Ontario's 21 marketing boards and three representative commodity associations created under the Farm Products Marketing Act and the Milk Act; develops, recommends and implements policy with respect to regulated marketing in Ontario; provides education programs to Ontario's marketing boards and industry stakeholders to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulated marketing system; and, provides strategic leadership to marketing boards and representative associations. The Commission is also responsible for the enactment of milk and milk product quality regulations under the Milk Act which are then enforced by the director named under the Milk Act.
Ontario Food Terminal Board (Operational Enterprise)
Provides convenient, efficient and low cost receiving and shipping facilities for wholesalers in fruit and produce, operating in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario.
Rural Economic Development (RED) Panel Board of Directors (Advisory Agency)
The Panel reviews RED project applications and makes recommendations for funding to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
OMAFRA supports the government priorities of Better Health and Strong People, Strong Economy. It carries out its mandate under three main strategies: better public health and environment; strong agri-food sector and rural development.
Better Public Health and Environment
The ministry is dedicated to protecting public health through a comprehensive food safety strategy, and reducing illnesses from environmental pollution from agricultural sources.
The Ontario Food Safety Strategy (OFSS) enhances the government's ability to protect public health, addresses gaps in the food safety system and increases the marketability of Ontario food products. It responsibly addresses recommendations made by Mr. Justice Haines' Report of the Meat Regulatory and Inspection Review. Once fully implemented, it will go beyond the Haines report by encompassing all the main commodities produced in Ontario including meat, poultry, dairy, fish and fruits and vegetables. It is a 'field-to-fork' initiative jointly delivered by OMAFRA, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Several improvements have been made in recent years to the province's food safety system, including a stronger meat regulation and funding to help processors meet its requirements, a new practical food safety system for small- and medium-sized processors called HACCP Advantage, the establishment of the Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario, a federal-provincial foreign animal disease emergency response plan and an On-Farm Food Safety Strategy.
The ministry works with Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Health Promotion, public health units and the industry to carry out its mandate in food safety.
Looking ahead, the ministry will continue carrying out the elements of the OFSS. In 2006-07, close to $10 million will go toward such areas as reaching a target of 35 provincial food processors who are certified under the HACCP Advantage program, maintaining regulatory, inspection, investigation and enforcement services, and helping meat processing plants make changes required under the meat regulation. In addition, the ministry will continue to administer the three-year, $20 million federal-provincial Food Safety Initiative, which will further the implementation of food safety systems in the food processing sector.
In order to better protect the environment and public health, the Nutrient Management Act requires Ontario's large livestock operations to adopt best management practices to enhance their stewardship of our soil and water resources. Under the legislation, OMAFRA approves on-farm nutrient management plans and strategies while the Ministry of the Environment leads inspection and enforcement activities. The government is providing a total of $23.7 million to help more than 600 large livestock producers make environmental improvements on their operations and meet the requirements of the NMA. When combined with financial assistance available from the federal government under the Agricultural Policy Framework, up to 90 per cent of a farmer's costs could be covered.
This program, combined with other projects and practices Ontario farmers have implemented over the years, has reduced the risk to our water by ensuring the proper management of more than 4.2 billion litres of liquid animal waste and more than 740,000 tonnes of solid animal waste each year.
The ministry's 2006-2007 budget, at $880 million, is up from 2005-2006 ($863 million, per 2006 Ontario Budget) and includes increased funding for food safety initiatives, additional funds to assist eligible livestock producers comply with the nutrient management regulation ($11.7 million) and an enhanced transfer payment (additional $4.3 million) to the University of Guelph.
Strong Agri-Food Sector
OMAFRA is committed to strengthening the agri-food sector in both the short- and long-term.
In March, 2006, the ministry announced $125 million in immediate financial assistance to farmers, putting some much-needed money in their pockets before the 2006 growing season. A total of $80 million was announced for grain and oilseed producers, including those who grow the crops to feed their livestock, to offset their losses on the 2005 crop. This brought the total support from both the federal and provincial levels of government for the 2005 crop to $200 million. Edible horticultural crop producers received $35 million to offset their past losses. In addition, the ministry provided a $10 million grant to a new industry-based entity whose mandate is the establishment in Ontario of a livestock and poultry traceability system.
While the funding is going toward providing stability in the immediate term, the province is calling on the federal government to join with it to carry out a multi-year strategy that will stabilize and strengthen the province's agriculture industry for the future.
Under the current federal-provincial Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), business risk management programs include production insurance, which protects about 19,000 participating farmers against crop losses due to adverse weather, disease, pests and other perils, and the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program, which protects about 28,000 participating farmers against income declines. Ministers of Agriculture from across the country continue to work to improve the effectiveness of the CAIS program.
The province also funds the Self-Directed Risk Management (SDRM) program, which provides horticultural crop producers with an alternative to production insurance for crops that are not covered. To further stabilize this sector, the province has committed to provide its share of the SDRM program for 2006.
At the second Premier's Summit on Agri-Food in February, 2006, Premier McGuinty and summit attendees endorsed a vision of the agri-food sector that is "innovative, sustainable and provides opportunity for profit by all participants ... globally competitive, responsive to consumer needs and contributing to provincial prosperity, the environment and the health of all citizens." The Premier challenged the producers, processors, retailers, industry, research and environmental groups to work with the government to put the vision into action over the next year.
To kick-start the process, the 2006 Ontario Budget includes a Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation, which will provide $2.5 million over five years to encourage new ways of thinking in the sector.
The province is focusing on research and innovation by transferring responsibility for 14 research stations and three colleges to the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario. The transfer will reinvigorate research and development and leverage new investment from the government's $40 million annual contribution to strengthen the sector. The transfer was announced in August, 2005 and will be finalized in April, 2006.
The ministry partners with the University of Guelph to deliver research, laboratory services and education programs. While OMAFRA continues to set goals and objectives in consultation with industry, the university is responsible for the implementation and management of the programs. The university receives more than $50 million annually from the ministry to deliver programs and services. An additional $25 million grant to the University of Guelph was approved by the province on March 23, 2006. The University has announced that the funding will be used to support their plan for a new animal health laboratory as part of its upgrade of the Ontario Veterinary College facilities. OMAFRA is excited about this important initiative in animal health and its impact on the wellbeing of the people of Ontario.
One million dollars for research in the grape-growing industry was also provided in 2005-2006.
The 2006 Ontario Budget also included another $4 million to the livestock sector to ensure that livestock mortalities are properly disposed of, posing no threat to either public health or the environment. This is in addition to the $10 million announced earlier to support a newly established Ontario Traceability entity. These investments further strengthen the food safety system, and build on our achievements to date.
The ministry also created new economic opportunities in the sector by investing in the commercialization of biomass products, including the creation of new energy sources. The $520-million, 12-year Ontario Ethanol Growth Fund is aimed at supporting the production of ethanol fuel, which will help farmers, create jobs in rural Ontario and move the government forward with its plan to reduce greenhouse gases and the harmful emissions that cause smog.
The fund will also help the government meet its Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires an average of five per cent ethanol in gasoline by 2007. Meeting the target would be equivalent to taking 200,000 vehicles off the road or reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 800,000 tonnes. It has the potential to create 3,000 new jobs and spark as much as $500 million in new investment in rural Ontario.
The ministry continues to provide services to Ontario farmers and agri-businesses by specialists collecting, interpreting and delivering research results, and transferring technology and information. A range of access channels are employed to enhance the availability of information and help them address important production and business decisions. This includes about 3.8 million visits to the ministry website annually, more than 36,000 client inquiries through the ministry's call centre (the Agricultural Information Contact Centre) and more than 45,000 direct inquiries through regional offices. As well, the ministry offers many more opportunities through numerous seminars, workshops, publications, fact sheets, information electronic bulletins, applied research, demonstrations, trials, commodity association meetings and agri-business meetings. Stakeholder satisfaction with the channels used to transfer information is more than 80 per cent.
The ministry also supports the marketing of Ontario agri-food products. Domestically, the Foodland Ontario program is very successful, particularly with the recent launch of the "Pick Ontario Freshness" campaign. Market research studies have consistently shown that more than 80 per cent of targeted consumers recognize the Foodland Ontario symbol, are likely to buy Ontario fresh produce and approve of the program.
The ministry is looking to use the Foodland Ontario program as a lesson in success to help develop a broader branding and marketing strategy for Ontario foods. Research is being undertaken to determine consumer attitudes to buying domestically and locally. This will be followed by consultations with producers and other key industry partners, like retailers and distributors, to identify where opportunities exist.
The ministry's export development programs are aimed at helping the Ontario food and beverage sector increase sales by identifying and maximizing their export opportunities. Staff are planning several incoming and outgoing trade missions, as well as trade seminars throughout the year.
OMAFRA also encourages investment and competitiveness in the food industry. Staff continue to provide advice and support to companies in the areas of programs, infrastructure, training and research. The ministry participated in more than 50 investment cases resulting in about $400 million in investment and the creation and retention of more than 2,300 jobs in 2005-06. The ministry has a target of influencing at least $275 million in this kind of investment in 2006-07.
Strong Rural Communities
The activities of the Rural Development Division are guided by Ontario's Rural Plan, Strong Rural Communities: Working Together for Success, which sets out priorities for building strong rural communities and strategies for achieving results. These strategies are helping to boost economic development, address infrastructure needs, improve access to educational opportunities and support healthy communities. Moving forward with the Rural Plan allows all of Ontario to benefit and prosper as the government acts on priorities.
The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing up to $298 million to the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF). With municipal investments, this program is expected to stimulate up to $900 million in infrastructure investments over five years to help meet local priorities. Through the COMRIF program, small urban and rural communities can look forward to safe bridges and roads, dependable water systems and better waste management processes.
In Intake 1, about $125 million has been invested in 120 communities to enhance and renew water and wastewater systems, roads and bridges and solid waste management processes. It is expected that the next round of funding for Intake 2, followed by news on Intake 3 will occur in spring 2006.
Under the Ontario Small Town and Rural Development Infrastructure (OSTAR) initiative the province has committed $427 million to 280 approved projects for public health and safety priorities. The federal government has committed $269 million to 255 approved OSTAR projects under the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program.
The Rural Economic Development (RED) program invests in projects that support sustainable rural economies and community partnerships. The priorities for the RED program are access to healthcare services, community revitalization, and skills enhancement which supports Ontario's Rural Plan, Strong Rural Communities: Working Together for Success. Since October, 2003, a total of $19.7 million has been invested in the program, leveraging almost $126.9 million in new economic activity.
More than 1,000 community volunteers, in 80 to 90 communities, have directly participated in community economic development initiatives to improve their local economies which include:
Downtown Revitalization: Eleven communities - from Tweed to Brussels - and almost 200 volunteers have participated in a market analysis of their downtown trade areas to identify business opportunities. Six of these communities have utilized this analysis with the development of a community based action planning process to revitalize their downtowns.
First Impressions Community Exchange: Volunteer visiting teams from 25 communities have completed First Impressions exchanges and the feedback provided from these visits has resulted in community revitalization projects that have benefited more than 125,000 residents to date.
Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E): More than 50 communities have signed up to access a new web-based application that communities can use to analyze the needs and issues identified through a survey of their local businesses. More than 500 volunteers and staff have conducted 1,150 business surveys.
More than 750 business owners and managers participated in 45 information sessions on apprenticeship opportunities to train and develop their workforce. As well, information on leading edge business opportunities, such as tourism and wind energy, has been provided through workshops and seminars to more than 1,000 businesses.
This includes $13 million in one-time expenditures for planned, time-limited programs.
OMAFRA supports the government priorities of Better Health and Strong People, Strong Economy and carries out its mandate under two main strategies: better public health and environment and strong agri-food sector.
Better Public Health and Environment
The ministry carries out its better public health and environment strategy by protecting the safety of food and minimizing the risk of illness from pollution from agricultural sources.
The ministry is working with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Natural Resources to deliver the Ontario Food Safety Strategy, which will: better protect public health by using proactive ways to identify and assess food hazards; cover all foods, focus on the risk they represent; be flexible to changing hazards and technologies; and, include systems to ensure its effectiveness in reducing food contaminants and food-borne illness. It covers a number of methods to ensure public safety including preventive programs, monitoring and tracking, testing, voluntary best management practices, legislation and regulations, compliance, enforcement and education.
Key initiatives under the strategy will be:
These initiatives also respond to key recommendations in Justice Roland Haines' report on the province's meat regulation and inspection system.
The Ontario Tobacco Strategy is designed to improve the health of Ontarians by reducing tobacco use in the province. The government recognizes the strategy's effect, on both tobacco growers and their communities, resulting from the reduction in the demand for tobacco products.
A new $50-million Tobacco Community Transition Fund will provide $35 million to assist tobacco growers wishing to exit the industry. Tobacco growing communities will receive $15 million to encourage economic diversification and innovation.
OMAFRA and the Ministry of the Environment are responsible for implementing the Nutrient Management Act. By continuing to implement Justice Dennis O'Connor's recommendations from the Walkerton Inquiry report, along with input from environmental and agricultural stakeholders, the ministries will: make several improvements to regulations, establish a standards science committee, prescribe the Act under the Environmental Bill of Rights and commit to funding research. The ministry will also provide an additional $3.7 million to help farmers make environmental improvements on their farms and meet the requirements of the Act, bringing the total funding to $23.7 million
A new, $6 million program will help agricultural landowners and rural municipalities cover the costs of drainage infrastructure.
The federal and Ontario governments will provide province's farm and agribusiness operators with access to more than $20 million in their ongoing efforts to care for the health of the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Greencover Canada Program will support projects that enhance biodiversity, prevent wind and water erosion of precious farmland and improve the quality of surface water and groundwater. The Canada-Ontario Water Supply Expansion Program (COWSEP) will help Ontario producers develop, conserve and enhance sustainable water supplies.
Strong Agri-Food Sector
OMAFRA will continue to work with partners in the agri-food industry and the federal government to provide short-term support where and when it is needed, and move forward in new, innovative directions for the long term.
The ministry will continue implementing the five-year, five-part Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) in conjunction with the federal government. Under the APF, business risk management programs include production insurance - which protects about 19,000 participating farmers against crop losses due to adverse weather, disease, pests and other perils - and the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program, which protects about 28,000 participating farmers against reduced incomes. Ministers of Agriculture from across the country will continue to work to improve the effectiveness of the CAIS program.
A total of $174 million will be provided to grain and oilseed producers who are struggling with historically low prices for their products. To deal with the fallout of the BSE situation, the Ontario Cattlemen's Association will receive $4.35 million to maintain the collection of livestock mortalities. A total of $800,000 will also be provided to increase slaughter capacity in the province, which is part of $7 million being paid out for this purpose.
In order to better position the industry for the future, the ministry will transfer responsibility for three colleges and 14 research stations to the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario. This will mean renewed investment in Ontario's agri-food research facilities.
The ministry partners with the University of Guelph to deliver research, laboratory services and education programs. While OMAFRA continues to set goals and objectives in consultation with industry, the university is responsible for the implementation and management of the programs. The university receives more than $50 million annually to deliver programs and services. In addition, $3 million will go toward a research chair for the university.
In partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the ministry will establish an Agricultural Management Institute (AMI), a $5-million business management and skills initiative. AMI will provide Ontario farm families, managers and farm advisors with improved access to the tools they need to help them achieve higher levels of business and economic success.
The ministry will also provide, with the government of Canada, more than $5 million for innovation projects that will strengthen links between producers and consumers, identify commercialization prospects resulting from advancements in life sciences and bioproducts, and capture opportunities related to new trends in healthy living. The initiatives will be cost-shared under the $15.2-million Science and Innovation envelope of the APF.
A new Institute for Agri-Food Policy Innovation will be established to develop innovative recommendations with long-term policy benefits to improve the quality of life of all Ontarians.
The government will integrate rural affairs into the ministry's mandate to recognize the deep links that connect rural communities and farmers and food production.
The ministry will continue to provide services to Ontario farmers and agri-businesses by specialists collecting, interpreting and delivering research results, and transferring technology and information. A range of access channels will be employed to enhance the availability of information and help them address important production and business decisions. This includes about 3.8 million visits to the ministry website, more than 36,000 client inquiries through the ministry's call centre (the Agricultural Information Contact Centre) and more than 45,000 direct inquiries through regional offices.
As well, the ministry will provide many more opportunities through numerous seminars, workshops, publications, fact sheets, information electronic bulletins, applied research, demonstrations, trials, commodity association meetings and agri-business meetings. Stakeholder satisfaction with the channels used to transfer information is more than 80 per cent.
The ministry also supports the marketing of Ontario agri-food products. Domestically, the Foodland Ontario program is very successful, with a consistent 80 per cent approval rating from consumers. A new advertising campaign encouraging shoppers to "Pick Ontario Freshness" will be launched by Premier McGuinty and Minister Dombrowsky at the International Plowing Match in September, 2005.
The ministry's export development programs are aimed at helping the Ontario food and beverage sector increase sales by identifying and maximizing their export opportunities. Close to 280 buyers from such countries as the U.S., E.U., Mexico, Japan and China will participate in incoming missions over the year. More than 1,000 company representatives will take part in incoming and outgoing trade missions, trade seminars and virtual trade missions.
OMAFRA also encourages investment and competitiveness in the food industry. Staff will continue to provide advice and support to companies in the areas of finance, infrastructure, training and research. The ministry will participate in more than 50 investment cases resulting in about $400 million in investment and the creation and retention of more than 2,300 jobs in 2005-06.
This includes $234 million in one-time expenditures to assist the agri-food sector and municipalities address extraordinary circumstances.
Annual Report 2004-05
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food delivers programming to help achieve a prosperous and competitive agri-food sector while assisting the government to achieve its goals and contribute to the quality of life in Ontario by:
Research and Technology Transfer
OMAFRA is helping Ontario's agri-food sector make a greater contribution to an innovative economy by ensuring that research is relevant and new technologies are transferred in a timely way. This encourages the development of new products, new uses for existing products and new markets.
Specialists collect, interpret and deliver research results, and transfer technology and information to Ontario farmers, agri-businesses and food sector businesses through seminars, workshops, applied research, demonstrations and trials, and association meetings. Provincial issues are addressed in partnership with industry, agri-business, researchers and other government agencies.
This program provides expertise to address the critical issues facing rural Ontario, such as land, air and water management. Staff work to ensure that Ontario farm and rural business managers have access to the latest information and decision-making tools. This program also provides funding to stimulate competitive economic growth and partnerships in rural Ontario. Efforts in this area contribute to stronger economies and prosperity for people.
Since April 1, 1997, the ministry has partnered with the University of Guelph to deliver research, laboratory services and education programs. While OMAFRA continues to set goals and objectives in consultation with industry, the university is responsible for the implementation and management of the programs.
The Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), one of the 12 agencies, boards and commissions of the ministry, provides advice on the current and future research and technology transfer needs of the agriculture and food sectors.
Investment and Market Development
OMAFRA contributes to the maintenance of a viable agri-food system in Ontario by helping to ensure the competitiveness of Ontario food processors and distributors through the attraction and retention of investment in the sector.
The ministry also delivers programs to expand domestic and international markets for Ontario-produced fresh and processed food products.
To support investment, the ministry provides business planning services and operates a proactive client account management system. Staff assist clients by working to remove barriers to future investment in the industry, to ensure that Ontario is the preferred agri-food industry investment destination in North America.
OMAFRA's goals in this area are to retain present levels of investment in Ontario's agriculture and food industry, and to promote new investment by farm, agri-business, rural, life science and food companies.
Investment attraction and market development can lead to economic diversification and the creation of new jobs in Ontario, both of which help build strong communities and contribute to our overall prosperity.
The ministry's risk management program co-ordinates policy development, delivers farm income stabilization and other assistance programs to the agriculture sector and manages food safety and environmental risks.
Business risk management programs provide tools for agricultural producers to manage production and price risks in a way that enhances their competitiveness and self-reliance. Producers and the federal and provincial governments share in the cost of these programs; some are national, others are specific to the province.
Managing food safety risks protects consumer safety, market access and industry competitiveness. The ministry provides a regulatory framework, including inspection and enforcement activities, within which industry must conduct its business.
OMAFRA committed to responsibly implementing recommendations made by Justice Roland Haines, following his independent review of Ontario's meat inspection and regulatory system.
To further mitigate food safety risks, OMAFRA conducts scientific studies to identify and evaluate new and emerging food safety risks and provides educational programs to industry.
To better protect the environment, the ministry introduced the Nutrient Management Act, 2002. This legislation requires that Ontario's large livestock operations adopt best management practices to enhance their stewardship of our soil and water resources.
In recognition of the fact that all society benefits from the improvements farmers will be required to make to comply with this legislation, the 2004 Ontario Budget made $20 million available (over two years) to assist farmers cover the costs associated with compliance.
OMAFRA will approve nutrient management strategies and plans, while the Ministry of the Environment will lead inspection and enforcement activities. Working together, the ministries will contribute to the health of the people of the province by enhancing environmental protection.
In addition to protecting the environment, the government of Ontario implemented a plan to protect agricultural land from development and preserve green spaces in the province. OMAFRA is an active participant in the multi-ministry Greenbelt and Places to Grow initiatives.
This includes $285 million in one-time expenditures to assist the agri-food sector and municipalities address extraordinary circumstances.
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