Sun sets on OMAFRA after 30 years


Ontario government sources have confirmed that Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will no longer exist after Premier Doug Ford cabinet shuffle, announced late Thursday.

OMAFRA was hatched in 1994 when Bob Rae’s New Democratic Party government combined agriculture with the rural affairs portfolio to create the new ministry with Agriculture Minister Elmer Buchanan at the wheel.

The provincial Progressive Conservatives will now move forward with two separate ministries. OMAFRA will be split into two distinct entities. The Ministry of Farming, Agriculture and Agribusiness will be led by Minister Rob Flack and handle all agriculture and food related items across the supply chain.

The Ministry of Rural Affairs will be led by Minister Lisa Thompson and work with rural municipalities across the province.

See Related: Ontario cabinet shuffle yields new Minister of Farming, Agriculture and Agribusiness

Throughout OMAFRA’s 30-year history, the agriculture minister typically held responsibility for both the agriculture and rural affairs portfolio. Premier Kathleen Wynne broke that tradition in 2013 when she took on responsibility for agriculture while the rural affairs portfolio was led by Jeff Leal.

Wynne kept the agriculture job for 16 months before handing in back to Leal in June 2014. Ernie Hardeman took the OMAFRA reins after Ford’s government came to power in 2018. He was succeeded by Lisa Thompson who was named the last Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on June 18, 2021.

A cartoon by Bill Suddick for Farm & Country magazine in 1995 heralding in the OMAFRA era

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