South Western Ontario managing partner Bob Berry offers
our first opinion-editorial piece on the amount of regulation in
the agriculture sector in Canada:
If our first farmers, Adam and Eve, knew what they would be
getting us into when they entered the orchard they may never have
taken up farming. I read today, with interest as I
always do, the January 28, 2014, edition of the Ontario
Farmer. The first section alone (31 pages) contains a
dozen or more articles and letters addressing a host of issues
from the outbreak of PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea) to the
proposed Agriculture Growth Act and issue of Plant Breeder's
Rights and the right of farmers to save seeds to the report on the
Canadian Dairy Commission annual meeting and the issues addressed
by its speakers such as "tinkering with the cost of production
formula", the DDIP successor program, a code of ethics for
employees and the allocation of quota for the supply of milk
and milk by-products for yogurt, cheese and baby formula and pages
and pages of ads for farm and farm related equipment. I
haven't even begun to read the second and third
section. And this is weekly newspaper, always chock
full of matters related to agriculture.
Recently, I had occasion to do some research on an agriculture
related question posed to me by a friend. I didn't know
exactly what legislation might be applicable so I started my
research by going to the ServiceOntario website and looking up the
word "agriculture" under the Ontario Consolidated
Statutes and Regulations page. To my amazement I found
the word "agriculture" referred to 328 times in 110
pieces of Ontario legislation. I thought to narrow my search
by looking up the word "food" - wrong guess, 2,542 hits
in 247 pieces of legislation. Fortunately, I looked up
"farming" and found only 303 hits in 59 pieces of
I haven't found the answer yet but I have just begun my
search through all the federal legislation and all the rules and
regulations and policy statements issued by regulatory and
marketing boards throughout Ontario and on behalf of the federal
authorities and, of course, all the case law issued by courts
attempting to interpret all these pieces of legislation, rules,
regulations and policy statements.
A cursory review of the Ontario legislation clearly shows that
every aspect of the agriculture industry is regulated.
Government and its agencies regulate relationships:
between the producers and their work force (e.g.
Agriculture Employees Protection Act);
between the producers and their animals (e.g. Animal Health
between producers and their land (e.g. Nutrient Management
between producers and their customers (e.g. Farm Products
between producers and their suppliers (e.g. Farm Implements
between producers and their risk (e.g. Crop Insurance
between producers and their spokespersons (e.g.
Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act);
between producers and their government (e.g. Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act); and
between producers and their future (e.g. Agriculture
Research Institute of Ontario Act).
Is all this regulation necessary? Is the industry over regulated
and too dependent on (or made to be too dependent on)
If agriculture is or is becoming the largest industry in
Ontario, if not in Canada, then should we be examining all this
regulation and its cost of enforcement to determine its impact on
the industry and whether or not it is impeding or aiding its
growth? Whether or not our producers and consumers are
benefitting from all this regulation? Whether or not it is
making us more or less competitive with our external
competitors? Whether or not we are competing with ourselves,
These are perhaps the questions the agriculture industry and
government must ask, if we have not already done so. Perhaps
if Adam and Eve had not taken that first bite and left that apple
alone...! Regardless of the answer, if there is one, it is a
fascinating industry to read about and study.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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