The Grain Farmers of Ontario helps put food on our tables

By Bobbi Ann Brady MPP

In the beginning of July, I had the pleasure of heading next door to Elgin for the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) meeting. And the next day accompanied them on a portion of their farm tour. My brain was tweaked with interesting new observations and increased knowledge of how farms are operating in the modern day regarding the modern age.

In their own words, the GFO is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover over 6 million acres of Ontario farmland and generate over $4.1 billion in production value, result in over $18 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 75,000 jobs in the province.

Further, their goal is to provide their farmer members with the information and resources they need to continue being economically sustainable while operating in a manner that meets their commitment to the environment and society.

Those are indeed words to live and work by and the GFO does a great job promoting and assisting farmers to do just that. 

An important component of putting food on our tables is research and development (R&D).  As GFO reminded me, they have a history of investing in R&D to augment research requirements for barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat through four priority areas:  agronomy and production; weed, disease and insect pests, crop quality and utilization; and breeding and genetics.

Another key component supporting the putting-food-on-our-tables paradigm is fertilizer. Specifically, farmers need fertilizer to grow more food, but they need access to fertilizer without additional fees and barriers to access. The GFO in April applauded the federal government’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food for recognizing that farmers need better access to fertilizer, and the committee’s recommendations, which are:  1. Returning tariffs collected by government on fertilizer imports; 2. No mandatory fertilizer emission targets; 3. Recognizing already achieved sustainable efforts on farms and sustainability programs being utilized, such as the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship; and, 4. Look at building fertilizer capacity.

Farmers want to grow as much food as they can, but they also want to protect the soil, air, and water. They are always working to find the right balance. 

One of my passions as a politician is our children’s education, and GFO has them covered with their Grains on the GO traveling show. It’s free, fun, interactive and showcases Ontario grains in a format that helps students understand the importance of grain farming for Ontario. The Grains on the Go trailer drives to schools and is designed to present directly to grade three students. It includes a presentation, activity, or experiment. If Ontario if fortunate, some of these students may turn out to be future food producers. For more information, check it out at

Much of the population of Ontario’s involvement in farming is limited to dropping food in their basket at their local grocery store. They know farms exist but don’t know the toil that goes into putting food on people’s tables. And often, the toil takes a toll on the psychological well being of many farmers and their families.   

The GFO is well aware of that and has a Farmer Wellness section on their website. It contains a wealth of support resources, prevention tips, awareness advice and contact information for those experiencing trauma or extreme stressors. If you are suffering, I urge you to get help and talk to someone. And the GFO’s Farmer Wellness section may be a great place to start your healing. It’s located here:

I look forward to my future interactions with the GFO, and taking forward their concerns because their contributions are vital to our food security and economy, today and into the future.

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk