Jeff Leal Named Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a new agriculture minister Tuesday.
Wynne had a major cabinet shuffle following her 58-seat majority victory in the June 12 provincial election. And the agriculture portfolio goes to Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, a familiar face in the agriculture community.
Leal previously held the Rural Affairs, when the portfolio was split into two, in order to allow Wynne to take on the role as Minister of Agriculture and Food for a year, a promise that she made during her Liberal leadership bid in 2013. She doubled as premier and minister of agriculture from February 2013 until June 2014.
Farm Lobby Group Welcome Leal
The province’s largest farm lobby group, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), says it is supportive of the post-election cabinet shuffle, adding that it welcomes returning Minister Jeff Leal to his expanded portfolio as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
“As former Minister of Rural Affairs, Leal is familiar with both the rural and agricultural landscape,” OFA said in a release.
In addition to working with the Agriculture Minister, OFA says it is committed to working with other key members of the new cabinet, especially with respect to campaign promises made during the election. The farm organization notes that it will work with the following ministers tied to its priority areas:
- Brad Duguid (Minister of Economic Development) – expanding natural gas infrastructure
- Dr. Eric Hoskins (Minister of Health) and Liz Sandals (Minister of Education) – introducing food literacy/nutrition into the school curriculum
- Ted McMeekin (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing) – reviewing the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges and Niagara Escarpment Plans
- Reza Moridi (Minister of Research and Innovation) – advancing agriculture research