Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week

March 3, 2013

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’m pleased to rise to recognize agriculture literacy week. I think it’s great that the students in our schools have the opportunity this week to learn more about the contributions of our farmers. We know how hard they work and the challenges they face. We know how much we depend on them for the food we eat and the products we use every day.

I’m especially pleased to hear the new Minister of Agriculture and Food rise and talk about the importance of agriculture literacy, because so far her government’s record has been disappointing.

A recent study by Farmers Feed Cities found that only 41% of 18- to 34-year-olds claim to be aware of where their food is grown. Many people were hoping that the local food act would include food literacy, which would in part address this. But instead, we had a bill that had nothing concrete and died on the order paper only days after it was introduced.

Our farmers are struggling with red tape and spiralling hydro costs. A couple of years ago, I had the sad experience of bringing a group of new farmers to this Legislature. They felt forgotten by their government. They were all telling their children to look for other careers.

That’s not the future we want for agriculture in Ontario. We want parents to tell their children about the great opportunities in agriculture. We want students to learn about it and consider a career as a farmer, a veterinarian, a crop adviser. We want an agriculture industry—we want to celebrate that agriculture industry, not just this week but throughout the year.