For nearly one month, Ontario has had a new Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). On June 18, Premier Doug Ford announced a cabinet shuffle. Lisa Thompson, the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Huron-Bruce is now the minister, replacing Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman, who was removed from cabinet.
Thompson, a dairy goat farmer from Teeswater in Bruce County, previously served as Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Minister of Education. Before being elected as an MPP in 2011, Thompson was the General Manager of the Ontario Dairy Goat Cooperative and has also served as Chair of the Board for the Ontario 4-H Foundation, and Vice Chair of Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc.
Leaders of Ontario’s major farm and commodity producer groups have had various reactions to Thompson’s appointment as agriculture minister.
“Minister Thompson has a valuable understanding of farm and rural issues and has a direct connection to those communities,” said Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Peggy Brekveld.
“We look forward to working alongside her to grow the industry and continue to focus on the priorities and opportunities that will stimulate economic growth for all Ontarians,” Brekveld added.
“Minister Thompson understands the need of rural communities and farmers, and we know she will look for new ways of supporting and helping grow farm businesses and rural economies,” said Grain Farmers of Ontario Chair Brendan Byrne.
Beef Farmers of Ontario President Rob Lipsett described Thompson as an ally of farmers and is hopeful she will assist beef farmers with challenges facing their industry.
“We are also anxious to find ways to address the lack of processing capacity in the province and how we can work together to ensure Ontarians and our global partners have access to a reliable supply of Ontario beef.”
Chicken Farmers of Ontario Chair Ed Benjamins was optimistic about relations between Thompson and the supply-managed poultry industry.
“With her extensive experience working with Ontario’s farming communities, the CFO Board of Directors looks forward to meeting the new Minister and collaborating to advance mutual priorities and support for supply management.”
Ontario Sheep Farmers Chair Marc Carere welcomed Thompson’s appointment as OMAFRA Minister but also outlined what the organization’s priorities are with the new minister. “Our immediate focus will be to ensure that the suite of business risk management programs, including the provincial risk management program, will work for sheep farmers.”