Results-based Plan Briefing Book 2009-10
Table of Contents
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' vision reflects the opportunities sought by all Ontarians.
By working together, the vision of "thriving rural Ontario, agriculture, and food sectors" is an achievable aspiration.
The ministry's mission is to be "a catalyst for transforming our agriculture and food sectors and rural communities for a healthy Ontario."
OMAFRA's vision and mission support the government priorities of:
Ontario is competing in a global economy.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is strategically focused on making Ontario's agri-food industry and rural communities prosperous and competitive in the provincial, national and global economies.
Our strategic priorities are focused on creating:
Ontario's primary agricultural production sector is the most rich and diversified in Canada. With farm cash receipts of $9.3 billion in 2007, Ontario accounted for 22.9 percent of Canada's farm receipts. Ontario's food processing sector is the second largest manufacturing sector in Ontario. It contributes $35.4 billion to the economy every year and employs more than 700,000 people.
The ministry supports Ontario's agriculture and food sectors throughout the value chain with investments in market development, skills training, quality assurance, investment attraction, farm income stabilization, research and development and technology transfer.
The economy of rural Ontario is diverse. Manufacturing and service sectors are now the top two employers, while agriculture remains an important element of rural economies. Infrastructure is a foundation for rural living and it is a stimulus for local employment and business development. The ministry in partnership with other ministries and municipal and federal governments are providing the stimulus funding to build water treatment facilities, roads and bridges and other infrastructure. We are developing broadband infrastructure in rural Ontario and helping municipalities with specific local economic development such as revitalizing downtowns and strategic efforts to retain and attract businesses to rural communities.
Food safety remains a top priority of the Ontario government and of this ministry. Putting appropriate safety procedures in place is a primary way to decrease and manage risk. We believe there are also significant benefits from investing in research, education and innovation.
Traceability and animal health and welfare are key priorities of the ministry, supporting the agricultural and food sectors as well as food safety priorities through education, inspection surveillance, research and emergency preparedness.
Environmental stewardship is a tradition for Ontario's producers and a strength of this ministry. We have been engaged as educators, researchers, policy makers and partners for more than 130 years.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs focuses its activities on the achievement of three key strategic priorities:
Programs and Services Which Support the Achievement of Strategic Priorities
Priority #1: Thriving Agriculture and Food Sectors
Ontario's agricultural sector has opportunities to build by exploiting new markets and replacing imports and the ministry is available to provide support. On the domestic side, one expanding market is increased local food markets.
As we look to new markets, we continue to promote the outstanding quality of fresh Ontario produced foods. That is why we have expanded the Pick Ontario Freshness campaign to include fresh Ontario meat, deli, dairy and baked goods with the well-respected Foodland Ontario logo and have expanded our the Buy Ontario campaign. We also have an Ontario Farmers' Market Strategy to help farmers sell directly to consumers and provide points of access to purchase from Ontario farms. Boosting the Savour Ontario dining program which promotes local foods in fine and vacation dining establishments is another facet of our approach. Beginning this year, we will promote Ontario food products to the broader public sector with a Budget commitment of $8 million per year for three years.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has created the Ontario Market Investment Fund to partner with agri-food industry groups and local food networks to help either jump-start or maintain momentum for local food initiatives. We are providing $9 million over the next three years to projects that focus on local market research, building local networks, connecting farmers with food service businesses and other promotions.
Ontario's food processing sector has continued to grow. Skills and competitiveness go hand-in-hand for Ontario's food processors. In 2009, OMAFRA will support the development of a Food Sector Innovation Network, which has the potential to include more than 200 food-sector manufacturing and processing companies representing 15,000 employees. The network will increase the sector's workforce competitiveness through advanced skills training, internship opportunities, peer networks and online resources.
Ontario will launch new programs under the Growing Forward bilateral agreement with the federal government in 2009. Ontario's agri-food sector will be more innovative, responsive and profitable under the Growing Forward agreement.
Growing Forward has three desired outcomes:
We are pleased with the reaction of our stakeholders to our commitment to an Innovation and Science Suite of programs geared to organizations and the research community, and a Best Practices Suite for producers and processors.
World Trade Organization talks may reach a critical stage as the Doha Round moves toward finalization by the end of 2009. The final agreement must include the flexibilities necessary to accommodate supply management in Ontario. This ministry will continue to champion supply management at the World Trade Organization.
Ontario's farmers have helped to build our world-class agri-food sector. Through the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, we continue to recognize their hard work and investment in innovative ideas.
OMAFRA is in the second year of a $300-million, five-year research partnership with the University of Guelph. Ontarians will benefit from the success of this partnership as university researchers are continually exploring new horizons in the heart of agricultural and environmental innovation.
Merging three farm organizations into one is the plan in 2009 for the Ontario Soybean Growers, Ontario Wheat Producers Marketing Board and Ontario Corn Producers Association under the regulatory guidance of the Ontario government. The new organization, to be called Grain Farmers of Ontario, aims to enhance services to grains and oilseeds producers in the province.
The drive to do better for our stakeholders in 2009-10 is at the centre of the Minister's request for a renewal strategy from Agricorp following a report by the Auditor General of Ontario. Agricorp has been directed to upgrade its customer service and focus on getting the most value for farmers' and taxpayers' money through an accountable and transparent process. Ontario farmers can expect to see improvements in the service they receive from Agricorp including quicker turnaround times on AgriStability Program applications and faster response times at the call centre.
The auditor's report and stakeholder input confirmed that Agricorp should remain Ontario's deliverer of choice for agricultural business risk management programs.
Fostering innovation and the application of best practices is fundamental to OMAFRA's role in a thriving agriculture and food sector. That is why the ministry will offer a wide-range of technology transfer initiatives in 2009-2010. These range from farm tax seminars for agricultural business advisors to helping niche growers develop market opportunities.
Priority #2: Strong Rural Economies
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs recognizes the importance of increasing economic activity in communities that lie beyond our large urban centers. This ministry and Ontario's rural communities are partners in progress.
Infrastructure building is a foundation for rural prosperity. It creates the environment necessary for attracting and retaining businesses, jobs and people. Infrastructure building is also a stimulus for economic activity.
In 2009, the Ontario government will initiate the single largest, two-year investment in infrastructure in the history of the province. The investment is expected to create 146,000 jobs in 2009 and 168,000 in 2010. This ministry will manage the deployment of funds allocated to help rural municipalities construct water treatment facilities, sewage treatment facilities, roads and bridges and other infrastructure.
This ministry recognizes that expanding broadband coverage will give individuals and communities more opportunities to fully participate in the knowledge economy. Building on investments made in 2007-08, this ministry is providing almost $30 million over four years to the broadband initiative as part of a provincial Digital Strategy.
Our Rural Economic Development (RED) program has a history of successful investments that have helped rural communities across the province overcome barriers to economic development. In 2009-2010, this ministry will invest $18.4 million in RED. This investment is consistent with the government's priority relating to jobs and prosperity. Since October 2003, the RED program has invested $73 million in 220 rural economic development projects. This has resulted in $637 million in new economic activity in rural Ontario.
Strong rural communities are reliant on jobs and the RED program has proven its worth through involvement in employment training programs in partnership with rurally-based businesses such as Kellogg's and Ferrero. RED funding also helps communities that need complete economic development studies in order to determine where best to put their efforts to strengthen the local economic fabric.
This ministry has also helped thousands of young people gain skills and valuable work experience through our investment in the Rural Summer Jobs Program. This program helps local employers create summer jobs that provide work experience for students in rural Ontario. The 2009 Ontario Budget increased funding by $1 million to further enhance this program, with a $3.9 million budget in 2009-10.
Priority #3: Safe Food, Healthy Animals, Healthy Environment
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is taking action to keep our food, our environment and all Ontarians safe and healthy.
Ontario produces and processes world-class food and we want to keep it that way. That is why we introduced a new plant audit system and new rating system as part of our regulatory program to ensure a consistent standard for all meat and dairy processors in Ontario. We will also be operating a new microbial testing program for all ready-to-eat meat products.
We assist Ontario's farmers and processors through financial programs specifically designed to encourage improvements in food safety and traceability. We complement our food safety regulations through our Advantage Series of Food Safety Programs for farmers and processors. These voluntary food safety and traceability best practices are part of our comprehensive approach and shared responsibility with industry. We also assist Ontario's farmers and processors through financial programs specifically designed to encourage improvements in food safety and traceability.
This ministry's research partnership with the University of Guelph has identified Food for Health as one of seven research themes. We are investing more than $3 million annually to find new ways of helping Ontarians become healthier and provide strategic advice to Ontario's food producers and food companies. One such study will determine the impact soy isoflavone can have on reducing cardiovascular disease if it is introduced into enriched bread.
Healthy food and management of public health hazards starts with healthy livestock on farms. We advance the health and welfare of farm animals through strategic partnerships with livestock industry associations, private veterinary practitioners, the Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph, public health officials and federal government animal health authorities.
Researchers are also focusing on getting new products and new methods of production into the hands of unconventional agricultural clients: car manufacturers. The key these days is to efficiently transfer research from the lab or the test plot to the marketplace. We are pushing forward with our manufacturing and research partners to turn renewable crops into car components such as interior trim.
The Ontario Biogas Systems Financial Assistance Program is helping farmers and food processors generate on-site electricity or methane for steam heat using anaerobic digesters and biomass waste. The $11.2 million program helps farmers and rural businesses carry out feasibility studies for the installation of biogas systems as well as cover a proportion of construction and implementation costs.
Ontario's farmers and rural landowners are good stewards of the land. We support environmental protection with programs such as Environmental Farm Plans, our Lake Simcoe transfer payment and science-based regulations under the Nutrient Management Act.
Highlights of 2008-09 Achievements
The Ontario government believes that every Ontarian deserves an opportunity to succeed. That is why so many of our programs and services help our stakeholders make the best of their potential.
Working together makes us stronger. In 2008-2009 we brought forward legislation to enable Ontario's greenhouse floriculture growers to organize an inclusive association to which all producers belong. A similar strategy was behind the vote we conducted among Ontario's grains and oilseeds producers regarding a proposed merger of three farm organizations into one.
In 2008-2009 we made it easier to identify home-grown products by expanding the use of the Foodland Ontario logo to include fresh meats, baked goods and dairy and deli foods. We also made it easier to buy direct by helping Ontario's network of farmers' markets expand.
More Ontarians intended to buy Ontario foods. This performance measure indicates the success of OMAFRA's Foodland Ontario consumer marketing. Data for this measure is collected through an annual study conducted by a research firm with grocery shoppers in Ontario communities with populations of more than 100,000.
Promoting Ontario's food processors is good business. Ontario food and beverage processors purchase a significant amount of what our farmers produce, they create jobs, and they stock our grocery shelves with innovative meal solutions. In 2008-2009, this Ministry partnered with our food processing sector to expand Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs and develop new manufacturing practices. We developed new made-in-Ontario products and helped retain good jobs by retraining our workforce for the related business.
Research is a cornerstone for future prosperity and possibilities. This ministry has renewed its partnership with the University of Guelph to advance agricultural research in seven avenues. The Premier's Research Chair in Bio-materials and Transportation at the University of Guelph was filled in 2008-2009.
Encouraging innovation took many forms in 2008-2009 such as the Erie Agri-Food Innovation initiative which looked at alternative crops for the sandy soils along Lake Erie's north shore and the Premier's Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Awards.
The Growing Forward framework agreement will revitalize the business risk management programs in 2008-2009. With federal and provincial colleagues, and with input from the sector, this ministry developed a series of best practices initiatives under the framework which will cover food safety and traceability, environment and energy, biosecurity and business management. These initiatives will be launched in 2009-2010.
Partnering with rural municipalities is a source of pride for OMAFRA. We provide staff resources and foundation funding to help good, local ideas come to fruition. In 2008-2009, 33 communities participated in the First Impressions Community Exchange and more than 2,500 rural economic developers used ministry-developed data and analysis tools.
Infrastructure is important to health and prosperity. In 2008-2009 this ministry partnered financially with municipalities to build new water treatment facilities, roads and bridges. We also initiated 15 new rural broadband infrastructure projects. In February 2009, the federal and provincial governments announced the investment of more than $343 million each in 290 infrastructure projects in Ontario through the Building Canada Fund - Communities Component.
New investments in the Animal Health Laboratory and Ontario Veterinary College helped further veterinary public health education in 2008-2009. We developed new testing for emerging diseases and enhanced surveillance of livestock which will benefit our emergency preparedness.
In 2008-2009, Ontario's abattoirs and deadstock collection services accessed funds to help them transition through challenging economic times. This ministry invested $9 million to help abattoirs adapt to new federal regulations.
Ontarians are concerned about food safety. In 2008-2009 this ministry allocated $46 million to strengthen our food safety system. Since the Ontario government enacted the Food Safety and Quality Act 2001 in 2005, we have employed more inspection, research and education to keep the province at the leading edge of what is possible.
In 2008-2009, this ministry expanded our Advantage Series of Food SafetyTM Programs to include Advantage Good Agricultural Practices for farmers and Advantage Grain for operators of grain elevators. We delivered 30 food safety and traceability workshops, reaching out to more than 1200 farmers and processors to educate them on best practices.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs invested $1.2 million to improve voluntary food safety practices in Ontario's food industry. We worked with 31 facilities to adopt traceability systems and provided $2.04 million to assist 138 meat plants with improvements needed to achieve compliance with Ontario's food safety standard.
The following is a complete list for which the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible:
To better serve the agri-food industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs relies on 11 agencies, boards and commissions. Some, such as the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal, have an adjudicative role. Others are operational service or enterprise agencies. 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 four representative commodity associations.
The following is a complete list of agencies, boards and commissions for which the 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 is an Ontario government agency created in 1997 with the mandate of delivering crop insurance and other agricultural business risk management (BRM) programs. The three key programs currently delivered by Agricorp are: AgriStability, to protect producers against declines in margin; Production Insurance, to protect crop producers from losses caused by adverse weather and other natural perils; and the Risk Management Program (RMP), a price support program for grain and oilseed producers to help offset losses caused by low commodity prices.
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal (Adjudicative Agency)
The role of the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal is to provide citizens one place to file their appeals on agricultural issues and have them heard by an impartial and knowledgeable tribunal. The Tribunal hears applications and appeals made under 20 statutes including the Drainage Act, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act (for appeals of decisions made under the Milk Act, and the Farm Products Marketing Act), the Crop Insurance Act, the Assessment Act, the Farm Implements Act, and the Food Safety and Quality Act. All members of the Tribunal are cross-appointed to the Board of Negotiation which may mediate disputes under the Environmental Protection Act.
Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) (Operational Service)
The role of ARIO is to provide strategic advice to the minister regarding research priorities and resource allocation in order to deliver high quality agriculture, food and rural research. This advice is integral to the ministry's decision-making process to determine where to allocate research funding. Research infrastructure is critical to the future success of Ontario's agri-food and rural sectors. ARIO's current role with the research infrastructure portfolio began in 2007 when 14 provincial research stations and three agricultural colleges were transferred from the government to ARIO.
Board of Negotiation (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 December 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 "trust 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 committee 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; evaluates and recommends procedures relating to the sale of livestock medicines and proper standards for maintenance, handling and storage of livestock medicines; and 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 four 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)
The Ontario Food Terminal provides low-cost receiving and shipping facilities for wholesalers in fruit and produce operating in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario.
Rural Economic Development Program Project Review Panel (Advisory Agency)
The Panel reviews project applications and makes recommendations for funding to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Operating and Capital Summary by Vote
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' vision is for a thriving rural Ontario, agricultural and food sectors. To achieve this vision our mission is to act as a catalyst for transforming the agriculture and food sectors and rural communities. The ministry invests in the following key areas: innovation, research, rural economic development, food safety, environmental stewardship, farm income stabilization, and emergency preparedness.
* Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the 2009 Ontario
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is committed to rural Ontario and the importance of the agriculture and food industry in this province. The two focuses are interconnected in many ways and the ministry built numerous synergies in 2008-2009. When we helped farmers' markets we were also building rural communities. When we built broadband infrastructure, we were helping businesses, health care providers, educators and rural communities to turn miles into milliseconds and communications into business.
Strong Agriculture, Food and Bioproduct Sectors and Strong Rural Communities
Ontario became a partner in the Growing Forward framework agreement in 2007. In 2008-2009, the ministry began delivering a new suite of Business Risk Management programs. We continued consulting with producers, processors and the research community on details of non-business risk management (BRM) programs for the Growing Forward bilateral agreement. The Canada-Ontario Bilateral Agreement under Growing Forward was signed in March 2009 followed by an April 2009 launch of the new Best Practices Suite for producers and processors and the Innovation and Science Suite for organizations and the research community.
As we look to new markets - we continue to promote the outstanding quality of fresh Ontario produced foods. In 2008-2009 we made that easier with the new Ontario Market Investment Fund. The fund provides seed money to local initiatives which promote the sale of Ontario-grown food. The ideas come from the grassroots and we have set the program up for four years to give lots of new ideas an opportunity to rise to the top.
The ministry is helping support Ontario's growing bioeconomy through various activities including the funding of ethanol production with the Ontario Ethanol Growth Fund, and biogas production with the Ontario Biogas Systems Financial Assistance Program. The Ontario Biogas Financial Assistance Program helps farmers and food processors complete a site-specific feasibility study and contribute to a portion of the construction of an anaerobic digester to turn organic waste into methane fuel and rich compost. We helped producers completed 46 feasibility studies and supported the construction of 19 biogas projects in 2008-2009.
The ministry and the federal government, through the Growing Forward agreement, contributed to an Ontario Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre to develop a single window point of access to accelerate movement of innovative technologies, products and services to market. As part of the University of Guelph contract with OMAFRA, a Bioeconomy Industrial Uses research theme has been established that will focus research efforts on priority areas of the bioeconomy.
The ministry has funded 17 new projects under the Alternative Renewable Fuels Fund and the Life Sciences Agri-Food Innovation Fund. In addition, we are working with Ontario Power Generation on a study examining the prospects of agricultural biomass as a fuel supply for Ontario's Nanticoke and Lambton coal fired plants, which will help meet Ontario's electricity needs.
The Ontario Small Waterworks Assistance Program is providing $20 million in operating funding to rural municipalities and Local Services Boards with public drinking water systems serving small populations. The ministry also put our combined muscle to the task of building roads, bridges and water treatment facilities through the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund.
The Building Canada Fund was announced in 2008. The Province of Ontario committed an initial $362 million to the Communities Component to help rural Ontario communities construct needed infrastructure.
High-speed communications got a boost in rural Ontario thanks to the Rural Connections Broadband Program. The first 18 projects were completed and the ministry announced 15 new broadband building projects in the fall. The four-year program has set its sights on filling in many of the high-speed internet gaps in rural southern Ontario.
This ministry knows that investing in people is what builds communities. Our citizens have a wealth of ideas, opportunities and energy. The Rural Economic Development Program (RED) is a program that helps good community economic development ideas take root. With support from the RED program, communities completed economic plans, helped Ontario businesses, promoted tourism opportunities, created cultural facilities in historic buildings, and more.
The Rural Summer Jobs Service was created to help local employers create summer jobs that provide work experience for students in rural Ontario. The program's hourly wage reimbursement helped 1,200 rural employers create 3,700 summer jobs.
Healthy People and Healthy Environment
The health of our people, our animals and the safety of our food has been a priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The ministry is committed to strengthening a science-informed food safety system that will protect public health as well as enhance the competitiveness of the Ontario agri-food industry.
In 2008 we announced that an additional $56 million would be directed to the University of Guelph to support new research in the areas of environmental protection, developing foods for health, protecting animals from emerging hazards and improving veterinary training.
Ministry staff have worked with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and Ontario Cattlemen's Association to develop a mentoring program to help cattle farmers operate their grazing systems in ways which minimize soil erosion and improve water quality. The peer help program puts the latest research into the hands of our farmers.
Ministry funding has helped Ontario's abattoirs make operation upgrades to address new federal regulations that further protect against bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Final interim funding was provided to deadstock collection services to assist with affordable collection before the introduction of a modernized regulatory framework. The new deadstock disposal regulations came into effect on March 27, 2009.
Ontario currently licences approximately 155 abattoirs and 390 freestanding meat processing plants providing inspection services and HACCP programming.
The ministry's partnership with the federal government in the Food Safety Initiative has helped 138 facilities implement traceability systems.
With the ministry's help, the food and beverage processing sector developed innovative technologies to cut energy use and increase competitiveness. The ministry's Sustainability Grant to the Guelph Food Technology Centre has helped one Guelph-area company reduce its electricity use by 20 per cent in less than two years. Other companies are using the program to reduce the environmental footprint of their facilities.
Rural Ontario's role in green energy generation became firmly rooted in 2008-2009. The ministry's Biogas Financial Assistance Program helped farm families become green energy suppliers. The innovative technology converts manure from livestock operations into methane gas to power electrical generators, heat farm buildings and leave pathogen-free compost at the end of it all.
Environmental Farm Plans continued to be a cornerstone of on-farm environmental action. Each year more farmers develop these stewardship plans and invest in new ideas and upgrades to minimize their environmental footprint.