Saturday, 12 January 2008

columns from the past - Is it time to get rid of the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs?

Is it time to get rid of the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs?

Rural voice column October 2006 by John Beardsley originally written September 19, 2006

Agriculture is the only industry in Ontario which has a ministry set up in opposition to the primary producers. The Petrochemical industry represents far less than 2.5 percent of the population yet you don’t have ministry officials telling them how to run their industry. The Auto industry is the largest job creating and economic driver in the country yet they don’t have to worry that the government will throw a monkey wrench in their day to day business. We only have a Ministry of Agriculture because historically it represented the majority of the voters at the turn of the century. It is the same to day in that you have the Women’s directorate and the minister of multiculturism to grab votes. But Agriculture is no longer viewed as a segment of society to be respected and rewarded for the social stability it provides . Farm leaders have long fought tooth and nail to preserve the ministry for agriculture because at least we have a voice at the cabinet table. But do we really. If it is run by someone who doesn’t believe in agriculture if we constantly have to train and educate new ministers who aren’t farm raised or even have any experience in the industry we are losing ground. The Outdoor farm show is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of modern agriculture. There are hundred s of exhibitors showing off the latest and greatest. You can go to the seed companies and actually see the latest hybrids growing in the field plots right behind their tents. It reminded me once again that agriculture is doing really well , its just farming that isn’t fun anymore. There is an apocryphal saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Maybe the drastic change needed in Agriculture isn’t that we allow the government to do nothing and watch 2 thirds of the farmers go out of business. I’m sick and tired of the paternalistic attitude of the Ministry experts that helped get agriculture into this mess by getting rid of the market revenue program and replaced it with the CAIS program. I‘m tired of explaining to the public that the risk management program isn’t a handout but rather an insurance program to counteract the U-S farm bill and dumped corn and soybeans.

Probably one of the disconnects for the ministry bean counters is that conceivably the rmp could have cost the provincial government 60 percent of the existing OMAFRA budget. Well if we get rid of the ministry we can fund RMP Farming. This may seem an extreme position but not one I take lightly. Why not abolish the ministry and use money to fund rmp to be administered by Grain & Oilseed groups (in Quebec the mighty UPA administers the ASRA program thus getting funds to primary producers with less waste and hastle and no money being stolen oops I meant redirected to fund other parts of the Government . Any tribunals such as Farm Products marketing commission could be transferred to ministry of industry. Extension specialist could be transferred to U of Guelph as in the United States co-operative extension. Manure police can be transferred back to min of environment.

No other industry has a ministry which seems to have the sole purpose of opposing and hampering the industry at every turn

we certainly don't need a useless minister stopping a commodity organization of raising fees to make up the shortfall caused by the ministry’s own incompetence( if rmp had been instituted then more corn grown then more checkoff then no need for increase) also the total lack of help by OMAFRA when the corn producers were trying to get countervail imposed that would have had same effect as rmp raising revenues

Ministers salary could also go towards helping rmp

ag canada can administer cais program etc. the provinces that were thus administer never had bse aid clawed back and the inventory changes where figured out much quicker.

besides it will bring the cabinet back to a nice even number of thirty

I’m not sure what this would save but I’m sure out of an operating budget of 564 million we can find the three hundred million needed for the Risk Management program.

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