The OFA's Keith Currie. ( stock photo)

OFA looking at province’s budget

Ontario Federation of Agriculture officials feel the province’s agri-food sector received some promising news in the 2019 budget.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli delivered that budget on April 11th.

The document, called “Protecting What Matters Most”, included news about rural broadband and an accelerated capital cost allowance program. However it did not offer details on how rural Ontario will fare on investments for hospitals, schools and mental health care.

“We applaud the government of Ontario for taking a pragmatic approach to the province’s fiscal situation,” said Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Keith Currie. “We look forward to diving into the details and specifics of how the agricultural industry and our rural communities will fare with infrastructure investments. And we’re very pleased to see a solid investment in rural broadband – a move that will help our sector continue to drive economic growth for the entire province.”

The budget included a $315 million investment in broadband technology across Ontario. An investment that OFA will be following closely to ensure the needs of rural Ontario are addressed.

And while officials say more consultation on risk management programming was included in the budget, there was no mention of the infusion of $50 million to the program that was promised in the lead up to the 2018 election.

Ontario will now mirror the accelerated capital cost write offs announced by the federal government in the fall of 2018.

“Ontario farmers are now on a more level playing field with U.S. farmers to be able to write off capital at three times the normal rate in the first year of purchase,” added Currie.

OFA welcomes the news of new investment in Ontario’s horseracing industry and racetracks – an industry that provides important economic investments in rural communities.

“Overall, OFA is encouraged with many aspects of the 2019 budget and will continue to work with government to ensure Ontario’s agri-food sector is recognized for its importance to the provincial economy,” said Currie. “We are concerned with the OMAFRA budget cutbacks and will be reviewing these details carefully once spending estimates are available. We’ll also be advocating to ensure rural Ontario sees its share of investments in vital infrastructure including hospitals, schools and mental health care.”