News
Aug. 8, 2017, Kingsville, Ont. – Mucci Farms will construct a large-scale, multi-year investment in Huron, Ohio.
Aug 8, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – Do you know an outstanding young person in the industry?
August 2017 – Welcome to part 2 of our two-part series on this year’s California Spring Trials. As we noted last month in our introductory piece, touring CAST can be overwhelming. It was sensory overload, with so many new varieties to view, textures to touch and marketing ideas to marvel at, as we noted last month.
Aug. 4, 2017, Burnaby, B.C. – Simon Fraser University graduate student Oldooz Pooyanfar is monitoring what more than 20,000 honeybees housed in hives in a Cloverdale field are “saying” to each other – looking for clues about their health.
Aug 1, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – Do you know an outstanding young person in the industry?
July 26, 2017, Miami, FL – Markel Corporation and Costa Farms have entered into a definitive agreement for Markel to acquire a majority interest in Costa Farms and its related operating companies. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.
July 25, 2017, Vancouver – Strawberry production trials are among several research projects conducted by Affinor Growers this past year.
July 24, 2017, Portland, OR – Iwasaki Bros., Inc., one of the largest wholesale growers of ornamental plants in the Northwest United State has become an early adopter of Philips GreenPower LED top-lighting on a large scale growing area of more than 27,000 square feet.
July 24, 2017, Las Mercedes, El Salvador – Dümmen Orange has again been recognized by MPS for a continued dedication to promoting sustainability in the floriculture industry.
July 25, 2017, Columbus, OH – Michael Del Valle, Jr., an undergraduate student studying horticulture at the University of Georgia, is the first-ever recipient of the Dr. P. Allen Hammer Scholarship.
July 21, 2017, Columbus, OH – Dümmen Orange has expanded its North American sales team.
July 21, 2017, Columbus, OH –Dümmen Orange welcomes Diana Shull to the North American technical team.
July 21, 2017, Leamington, Ont. – Building on consistent year over year growth, greenhouse grower and marketer Pure Flavour has hired Chris Veillon as chief marketing officer with the company’s executive leadership team.
July 20, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – The nomination deadline for this year’s Top 10 Under 40 awards program in the greenhouse sector is just a little over three weeks away.
July 20, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – The Liberal government’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 is a reality set to hit Ontario by 2019 as part of Bill 148. The agriculture sector and many small businesses across the province are reeling at the prospect of the minimum wage rising by a staggering 32 per cent in an 18-month period.
 
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is collaborating with all the agricultural commodity groups in Ontario, and through its membership in the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council, to work on minimizing the impact on the industry.
 
Hearings are currently underway on Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act and the interests and concerns of Ontario agriculture are well represented. We are meeting with political leaders and encouraging members to use summer barbeque meetings with local politicians to talk about the impact of this new legislation on the largest contributor to the Ontario economy – agriculture.
 
Here are the key points that OFA and the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council are asking the provincial government to consider around the minimum wage issue.
 
The timing to transition to $15 per hour is far too tight. Farmers have been given just six months to prepare for the first increase of 21 per cent by Jan. 1, 2018. Labour costs can account for more than 50 per cent of the cost of production for some Ontario farm operations, especially in the greenhouse, fruit and vegetable and mushroom industries.
 
AGRICULTURE UNABLE TO PASS ALONG INCREASED COSTS OF PRODUCTION

Agriculture is unable to transfer increased costs of production. As a price taking industry, growers will be paying more for labour with no way to pass the costs on to consumers.
 
Increased labour costs have many farmers looking at reducing their workforce to protect production capacity and maintain their business. With a reduction in domestic food production, Ontario could become reliant on other growing regions and lose ground with food sovereignty and the strong local food industry that the province currently enjoys.
 
Ironically, by increasing minimum wage and the negative impacts on the competitiveness of Ontario farm businesses, the province is jeopardizing its own challenge put to the industry in 2013 at the Premier’s Agri-Food Summit.

A HURDLE TO INDUSTRY GROWTH

Our industry was challenged to double its annual growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by 2020. A meteoric rise in minimum wage throws a major wrench in the province’s own plans to support the continued growth of the agri-food sector – an industry that currently contributes $36.4 billion to the annual GDP and generates 790,000 jobs.
 
Let’s get out there this summer and make our concerns known.

Mark Wales is the director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

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