Dear Premier Kathleen Wynne,
I just attended the ECO Farm Conference in Cornwall on Saturday and I was very impressed with the large number of attendees, the quality of the presentations and booths at the trade fair and especially the delicious and tasteful organic food and beverages served.
However, I am appalled at the obstructionist activities being carried out by our government agencies to actively suppress the growth of organic farming in Ontario. Ontario is falling behind other jurisdictions, for example, Quebec’s agriculture is 3.5% organic and increasing, the United States agriculture is 4% organic, and Ontario’s agriculture is even falling behind its own market demand at only 2% organic. Areas of Ontario government suppression or organic growth are:
Marketing boards controlled by chemicalized agriculture are strongly supported by the government and organic growers which are mostly small farmers are forced to make financial contributions to support chemicalized farms
OMAFRA spends a fraction of 1% on the growth and improvement of organic farming
A few years ago Kemptville and Alfred Agricultural colleges were vibrant centres moving more and more towards sustainable and organic agriculture practices. This could not be tolerated by the chemically controlled Guelph University so these institutions are being closed.
Instead of supporting the stabilization of manures and organic matter by means of simple composting, the Ontario government financially supports the stupid practice of raw manure storage and land application. Of course the organic matter including phosphorous is not stable and leaches easily into our water causing algae and other water problems. It is accepted around the world that about 70% of water contamination is caused by poor agriculture practices – this could even be higher in Ontario because our agriculture is so heavily chemicalized especially with glyphosate.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is still talking and studying fundamental agriculture issues such as an Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. Even after OMAFRA already completed a document, “Sustaining Ontario’s Agricultural Soils – OUR SOIL AT RISK – Ontario’s Eroding Future” no action is being taken. Some salient and alarming statements in this document are:
· 82 per cent of Ontario’s farmland is estimated to be losing organic matter
· 82 per cent of Ontario’s agricultural soils are currently estimated to be emitting CO2 to the atmosphere rather than increasing soil carbon
· only about 20 per cent of Ontario cropland reportedly received manure in 2011 and most likely raw, pathogen-rich unstable manure was applied.
· 54 percent of Ontario’s cropland has a risk of erosion above the annual rate of soil regeneration
Your government is promoting many disjointed and contradicting programs such as:
· Carbon cap and trade – our chemicalized agriculture burns carbon and exhausts CO2 to the atmosphere whereas soils with increased organic matter resulting from organic and sustainable practices act as a carbon sink absorbing huge amounts of carbon into the fields and nourishing the crops.
· Our medical system can not keep up with the poor and deteriorating health of the people in Ontario. The health of a population is directly related to the health of the soils and water in which the food is growing. So what is OMAFRA waiting for – what is stopping Ontario to make the shift to organic and sustainable agriculture practices NOW? This shift will immediately improve our soils, water, food quality, health of Ontarians and most likely reduce Ontario imports of quality food.
Perhaps our politicians and agencies are controlled too much by the chemical agri-food companies to make the required shift to save ourselves, our soils and water?
I look forward to receiving your response and actions, if any, your government will carry out to remedy the dismal situation we find ourselves.