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Hon Rob Flack
Hon Rob Flack

Rob Flack, a business owner in his previous life, is now the political head of Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Agribusiness (OMAFA). The MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London hails from the heart of corn and soybean farming country. He was president and CEO of Masterfeeds when he left in 2022.  


In a June 13th interview with The Grower, Hon. Flack says that the nomenclature change from the former Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) recognizes that the big business of exporting $25B in food products is the result of many small businesses.


“One out of every 10 jobs in Ontario is connected to agriculture,” says Flack. “Ontario has 15.5 million people, closing in on 16 million people. We had 800,000 people come to Ontario in 2022. The priority is to feed those people, house those people.”


His most recent posting was associate minister on the housing portfolio. Given that farmers have been prickly about land use in the Greenbelt and currently about potential development in Wilmot Township west of Kitchener, Hon. Flack will need to weigh conflicting needs.


“I will be advocating for balance on those needs, feeding people, growing the processing sector.”


Rural affairs has been hived off to a separate stand-alone ministry, led by Lisa Thompson. She will be working closely with the ministry of municipal affairs and housing. Ministers will need to be nimble to interact with the ever-increasing numbers in cabinet, now 36, including a minister of red tape reduction.


Looking ahead, Rob Flack will be holding a roundtable on June 20 in Guelph to be briefed by stakeholders before he flies to Whitehorse, Yukon – the host for the federal-provincial-territorial agriculture ministers’ meeting on July 16-17.


From a horticultural perspective, the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association would like to prioritize the labour file, plastics, grocery code of conduct, Pest Management Centre funding and strengthening effective business risk management programming during this time of historically high input costs and marketplace pressures.


Copyright The Grower 2024


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Submitted by Karen Davidson on 17 June 2024