No relief for on-farm energy costs in Ontario budget
April 26, 2015, Guelph, Ont. – The provincial budget focused on much needed investment in transportation infrastructure but failed to support Ontario farmers with rising on-farm energy costs.
With no mention of a province-wide farm electricity rate and a delay in the natural gas expansion program to rural Ontario, farmers will have to wait longer for more competitive energy costs.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is disappointed recommended policy of a farm and industrial electricity rate did not make the budget. OFA sought a program to achieve an electricity rate comparable to neighboring jurisdictions to maintain the competitiveness of farming and the industrial sector. This would maintain a sustainable farming sector and create jobs across Ontario.
Editor’s note: The electricity issue, in particular, is an especially pressing need in the province’s greenhouse vegetable sector, with several major projects in the U.S. recently announced by Ontario companies.
Farmers will also have to wait a while longer for access to natural gas in rural Ontario.
“We agree with Minister Duguid, who has announced that natural gas in rural Ontario will attract new industry, make commercial transportation and agriculture more affordable, help to create jobs and provide more energy choices. It is disappointing the announced grant and loan program remains under development,” says OFA president Don McCabe.
“The economic activity made possible by this lower cost energy would certainly take some pressure off energy costs. Delays in program details of the grant and loan program means possible loss of a construction season for needed natural gas line expansion.”
“Despite OFA’s disappointment in energy investments, we are pleased to see the budget reintroduce the Connecting Links Program, as recommended by the OFA,” says McCabe. “We welcome the annual funding of $15 million for program projects that will see increased funding to rural municipalities for roads and bridges.”
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 37,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer.
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