|By OCA Executive Director,
Dave Stewart and OCA Communications Manager, Lianne Appleby
You will recall that in last year’s Annual Report, we stated
that OCA continues to increase our lobbying activities in
response to direction we received from you, our members.
We’re pleased to report again that OCA has been very
active in lobbying throughout 2007.
Our premier event, the Queen’s Park Barbecue, was held
on May 29th, and approximately 600 people were served
Ontario Corn-Fed Beef (tenderloin). This event is one of
the top food events at Queen’s Park, and is very useful in
establishing our position with, our elected MPPs.
Also at Queen’s Park, OCA President, Ian McKillop
and Vice-President, Gord Hardy, along with OCA
Communications Manager, Lianne Appleby, took part
in the launch of the province’s Pick Ontario Freshness
campaign. During this one-day event, a mini-farmers’
market was set-up on the lawn of the Legislature and
Ontario commodity associations were invited to showcase
their products for MPPs, the media and Queen’s Park staff.
As well last year, Directors participated in four different
lobbying events in Ottawa (which we refer to as “Fly-In
Days”) to promote your interests. The event of which
we are most proud, however, had the least publicity.
Through the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, we
participated in an event to honour troops returning from
Afghanistan. Several OCA Board members and local
Advisory Councillors attended the event held at Canadian
Forces Base Petawawa, where soldiers returning from
their tour of duty in Afghanistan (and their families)
were proudly served Canadian beef steaks.
This year was an election year for Ontario and the
results saw the governing Liberals return to power. The
Honourable Leona Dombrowsky has returned to her
pre-election portfolio of Agriculture, Food and Rural
Affairs, and this was good for our industry. Due to
Minister Dombrowsky’s knowledge of her portfolio, she
was able to react quickly and responded to our request
for support with $40 million for beef farmers, to assist us
through the awful second half of 2007. We would like
to thank the Minister for her demonstrated leadership
and continued strong support of our industry.
As well this year, a contract has been signed with OMAFRA
with regard to the $4M grant to OCA that was announced at
the 2006 International Plowing Match. This funding will be
used to support efforts to market Ontario beef within the
province, to advance age verification, to expand abattoir
capacity in under-serviced areas, and to help disseminate
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
Our work is not done, however. OCA will lobby for a
federal response to the provincial program. We will
also request a separate risk management program for
beef. The plan for this is now under development. One
of the major problems with the current risk management
program is that of declining reference margins. Due to
BSE, we missed the top of the cycle, and have not had the
good years necessary to build up reference margins. We
will continue to lobby for enhanced reference margins,
and have received a consultant’s report examining ways
to improve margins for producers within the program.
Finally, OCA continued to publish our government
newsletter The Ontario Steakholder (OS) in 2007, with
three issues going out over the course of the year. OS
is the tool that allows OCA to provide government with
the inside information needed to gradually build a better
understanding of our industry, so that politicians are
better able to work on your behalf. While hardcopies
are not made available to producers, you can
download PDF files from the OCA Web site.