LETTER FROM ONTARIO
Farmers' name top nominees for the Rural Red Tape Reduction Project

Farm & Countryside Commentary by Elbert van Donkersgoed

Editor's NOTE

This column was adapted from one of Elbert van Donkersgoed's weekly radio chats, called Corner Post, which are aired weekly on CFCO Radio in Chatham and CKNX Radio in Wingham, Ontario. Elbert is the Strategic Policy Advisor of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, which is working hard to create a more satisfying and sustainable model for farming in the province. If you'd like to receive a transcript of Elbert's Corner Post address each week, send an email to evd@christianfarmers.org with SUBSCRIBE as the message.

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April 3, 2003: Give farmers a chance to identify excessive bureaucratic processes -- a long list of experiences and ideas pour out. The Christian Farmers Federation's Provincial Board had just such an opportunity this week when Norm Miller, Member of the Provincial Legislature for Parry Sound-Muskoka and a member of Ontario's Red Tape Commission came to talk about the Rural Red Tape Reduction Project.

He came away with a good list of excessive bureaucratic processes to investigate:

  1. Some government assistance programs - disaster relief was mentioned - involve so much paperwork that many farmers have their accountants do their applications. Then, after spending their hard-earned money on accountants, some farmers learned that they were not eligible. Straight out of the gate the programs cost them money.
  2. Municipalities are discussing regulating pesticides. Is this third level necessary when two tiers of government are already regulating pesticides?
  3. American farmers have access to a greater variety of pesticides than do Canadian farmers. Why can the Canadian and American pesticide approval systems not work in tandem?
  4. Ontario sheep meat is scarce in most of Ontario's major food chains. Because most of Ontario's slaughter capacity for sheep is provincially inspected but many of Ontario's super stores accept only federally inspected meat, New Zealand lamb dominates super store shelves. Ontario veal producers have taken to sending their animals to the United States for slaughter so that they can get an inspection that is equivalent to Canadian inspection, thus winning shelf space for veal.
  5. Some farm trucks are now caught up in provincial emission testing regulations. Why must trucks used for just a few thousand kilometres during harvest be subject to the same standards as trucks that haul long distances year-round?
  6. Where was the Red Tape Commission when the proposed overly prescriptive nutrient management regulations were drafted?
  7. Farm fresh products-nest run eggs and unpasteurized milk, for example, that have been consumed by farm families for centuries-are being regulated out of existence. Is the move to a sterile environment a wise one? 8. New egg grading rules make it difficult to give wholesome farm fresh eggs to food banks. Farmers are being required to put them through the formal grading process, pay marketing fees and then buy them back to give them away.

Miller's Commission has a mandate to reduce and prevent red tape. The Commission, in existence since 1995, does not really expect its mandate to ever be completed. Why not? Government agencies are always creating new regulations, and most regulators are focused only on their own narrow mandates. Little attention is paid to the cumulative impact when all three levels of government load on the rules.

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For more on the myths about hunger and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a Christian response to hunger visit
www.foodgrainsbank.ca/research/myths.html.


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Corner Post can be heard weekly on CFCO Radio, Chatham and CKNX Radio, Wingham, Ontario. Corner Post is archived on the website of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario: www.christianfarmers.org. To be added to the electronic distribution list of Corner Post, send email to evd@christianfarmers.org with SUBSCRIBE as the message. To remove your name, send email with UNSUBSCRIBE as the message.