Special to the Agrinews
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs are continuing their efforts to identify areas of regulatory burden and overlap. Most recently, the Open for Business initiative held a focused session on identifying specific issues within the red meat sector. Farmers, input suppliers and food processors were present to provide concrete examples of the impact of regulatory burden in their businesses.
There were several key areas that the session focused on. The first focused on identifying major regulatory and program service challenges to the red meat sector supply chain that are having an impact on decisions to start or expand a business. There were a wide variety of responses, but the small group I joined focused on the impact of regulations on competition in a global context, imbalances in programs between provinces, and the potential for a disconnect to exist between the intent of provincial regulations and the actions of municipal enforcement bodies.
The second focus area looked at determining if there are regulatory processes that are negatively affecting business relationships within the supply chain. At my table, there were concerns raised about uncertainty around the transportation of animals, and the fear of a zealous inspector condemning an animal the farmer or transporter thought was in reasonable condition. There were also concerns regarding the impact of labeling rules on capturing local markets.
The third focus area sought out areas of regulatory overlap or duplication between levels of governments and agencies. This focus area asked for thoughts on how regulatory requirements could be streamlined or simplified. It then asked how municipal, provincial, federal governments and other planning/environmental agencies could work together better to improve the regulatory environment for business.
The Open for Business initiative continues to make efforts to reform the way the Ontario government approaches regulations. The latest focused discussion on the regulatory irritants helped to identify the day-to-day concerns facing red meat businesses in Ontario. Time will tell if this discussion can lead to meaningful change that improves the bottom line for business without diminishing the safety and sustainability of the industry.