Open letter to Minister Wynne re Closure of Alfred and Kemptville Agricultural Colleges
Dear Minister Wynne,
I was very disappointed and troubled to hear you are closing Kemptville and Alfred Agricultural Colleges. These colleges are an important part of developing our future farmers. I know from my experience as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that this decision would not have been made without the involvement of your Ministry, and usually the Minister.
Our farmers are aging. We need to encourage more young people to enter careers in agriculture and yet by allowing these colleges to close you are taking the ability of a lot of young people in Eastern Ontario to get the skills they need to become farmers.
Alfred College offers the only French-language agriculture diploma program in the province. Closing it will prevent many francophone students from training for careers in agriculture.
This seems like a decision made in a Premier’s office with no knowledge of agriculture. This is why we need a full-time Minister of Agriculture to point out the impact of decisions on our farming community.
These schools provide training in food processing skills as well as agriculture. You should be aware that we already have a shortage of skilled people in both the agriculture and the food manufacturing industries. These colleges not only help create a skilled work force they give young people who can’t afford to be away from home or the family farm an opportunity for needed education. You are taking away opportunities for those young people.
Minister, in the long-term this is not a cost saving measure – it will negatively impact our agriculture industry, the agri-food sector and our provincial economy.
As the Minister of Agriculture and Food ensuring the future of our agricultural colleges is your responsibility. You committed to stand up for our farmers and our agriculture industry – this needs to be one of those times.
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
PC Critic for Agriculture and Food