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  • mmantha-co

September 15, 2023

Not all superheroes are imaginary



Superheroes are an exciting and entertaining phenomenon. They have delighted the imaginations of all ages for generations. When we think of superheroes, we think of fictitious characters such as Superman, Batman, the Green Hornet and Spiderman. Of course, we also have heroes who are not just fictional characters. During the pandemic, we took the time to acknowledge some heroes in our society, such as our doctors, nurses, transport drivers and others. So, while heroes are real with genuine skills, superheroes, in general, are imaginary characters with unique or even supernatural skills.

However, I think the argument can be made that our farmers might also be considered to qualify for superhero status. Farmers prevent our world’s population from starving and use their skills to raise healthy animals and crops to provide healthy foods. Their superpower status comes from their special close connection to land, nature and environment that no one else has. So, in my view, they are not just heroes but superheroes.

When you think about the history of the world and society, farming was the very first profession of man. It was, and still is, the most healthful, valuable and noble of occupations. The wealth and success of a nation are linked directly to the success of our farmers.

I have often said that if anyone wants to criticize a farmer, they better not do it with their mouthful.

And yet, human nature is that we all too often take our superhero farmers for granted. Maybe it’s because farming has been around for so long that it’s just ‘understood’ to be there reliably, like electricity. The good news is that it is not too late to fix this problem, and our provincial government can take steps in this regard.

Part of the problem might be that our government’s overall approach is relatively linear and disjointed. Perhaps we tend to look at issues in isolation rather than comprehensive. When doctors treat patients, they don’t look at just one thing. They look at the symptoms and take a whole-body approach in deciding how best to treat the entire patient.

The trick is to find a way to balance needs and competing demands for land with the importance of maintaining a healthy agricultural industry. And whatever policies we create must have the flexibility to meet changes in the future as they roll out. Such considerations should include economic, climate, population growth, immigration and technology, to name but a few.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is a prominent voice for 38,000 farming businesses across Ontario. Collectively, they have generations of experience and knowledge to share. In preparation for the 2023 Provincial Budget, the OFA submitted to the Province a paper outlining their understandings and suggestions as to what should be considered as the government prepared the budget. In the submission, the OFA outlined three critical areas of government actions that would benefit rural Ontario and stimulate the economy:

  1. Investing in rural Ontario’s physical and social infrastructure

  2. Improving access to veterinarian care in rural and northern Ontario

  3. Promoting and protecting Ontario-grown food

The OFA offered numerous specific suggestions for the Province to consider including in the Ontario budget. The recommendations were based on investing in rural and social infrastructure. The OFA submission recommended that Ontario ministries work collaboratively “to target and expand appropriate rural community economic and social infrastructure such as schools, broadband, housing, and transportation to help support strong rural communities and agri-food businesses.”

The government must improve and expand necessary infrastructures to help farming businesses keep up with the ever-growing and changing global economy. Such investment is needed for rural roads and bridges, access to affordable and reliable energy sources, and access to high-speed broadband. Also needed are investments in social infrastructure to include local community schools and physical and mental healthcare.

The Ontario government must do better at acknowledging that the realities of rural Ontarians are different than those facing urban Ontarians. Cookie-cutter solutions are not able to effectively address all problems.

The key to saving our rural communities and growing our agricultural sector is for the government to commit to changing how it has focused on issues and ways to resolve problems. Provide farmers with the infrastructure, funding, support and legislation to get the job done right – for the good of all Ontarians and the world populations it feeds.

It is not too late to make things right and improve our food supply, farms and related agricultural businesses. But we must change our focus and approach to seeing and working with the ‘whole-body’ rather than segmented or linear ones.

The week of September 18th, I am really looking forward to attending the International Plowing Match held this year in Bowling Green. It is a must-go annual event because it is a prime opportunity for dialogue with so many farmers and agricultural associations attending, allowing greater understanding.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at mmantha-co@ola.org or by phone Toll-free at 1-800-831-1899.      

Michael Mantha MPP/député      

Algoma-Manitoulin

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