TORONTO — In a busy first year for the Ford government, it got underway rolling out changes to ag regulations with more slated for this year.
The government is proposing changes to seven different ag regulations. Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Keith Currie said he’s been in talks with ag minister Ernie Hardeman, and that the suite of regulatory changes are mostly about updating 20-year-old legislation to simplify things for farmers.
One of the more significant changes is making it easier for farm organizations to change their membership fees.
Under the new regulations, the Minister would be able to change the fee, instead of the entire legislature having to review it, streamlining the entire process but also shielding it from committee review. This makes it faster and easier for the farm organizations to bump up membership fees.
Here are the other proposed changes to ag regulations:
• Changes to any of the loan guarantee programs will be sped up, getting streamlined. Instead of requiring the entire legislature to approve changes, the ag minister can simply make the change.
• The province is looking to cut overlapping regulations between OMAFRA and local Public Health Units for licensing dairy processors.
• Meat processors are also getting a break: licences will no longer require renewal, which are now costing $300 every three years.
• Ornamental horticultural workers and farmers, including flower growers, will be added to the Agricultural Employees Protection Act. According to OMAFRA, most ornamental horticulture workers weren’t covered under either the act or the Labour Relations Act. Any farmers growing any kind of ornamental plant need to familiarize themselves with the act to make sure they know what their obligations are.
• OMAFRA is looking to simplify the Nutrient Management Act as well. Farmers no longer have to renew a nutrient management plan every five years if it hasn’t changed.
• The Livestock Medicines Act is finally getting repealed. Legislation was passed but never implemented to repeal the act back in 2009. The change should clear up some red tape around livestock medicine.