A mandated, mandatory election such as the one Ontario will experience this fall takes the spontaneity out of campaigning. But does it ever help with planning. Case in point is the way farmers have prepared for the October 6 political face-off, with a succinct election kit and overarching key messages.

The nine-page kit, assembled by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, is making its way into farmers’ hands now. It’s giving them some time and direction to prepare local strategies that will ensure agriculture and food is a priority in their ridings.

Indeed, the federation says it’s in farmers’ best interest to “engage and equip” candidates with sound, factual information about agricultural issues in Ontario. “The politicians we help elect will be making decisions and creating policy that can impact the future of Ontario’s agri-food industry,” it says. “Let’s do everything we can to help them understand the importance of our industry.”

To that end, the federation has a few statistics for farmers to keep in their back pockets. It points out that in Ontario, agriculture supports 164,000 jobs, pays $7 billion in wages and salaries, generates $3.4 billion in taxes and contributes 13 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product. These are all important figures in a recovering economy, as is the fact that every $1 of farm product generated in Ontario produces $6 in final sales. In other words, a lot of people depend on farmers for a living — and depend of farmers’ ability to make a living.

I write about Ontario farmers’ campaign position in my Urban Cowboy column in today’s Guelph Mercury.