Ontario’s agri-food sector is growing
Lorne Small, president of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, says “I would like to see more emphasis on individual entrepreneurs and business people having a responsibility to grow their businesses as well.”
Small made the comments in response to Wednesday’s release of the Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee’s report recommending increased government and industry promotion of Ontario’s agri-food sector in Canada and internationally. The report, which contained seven recommendations, was released at the Premier’s Summit on Agri-Food held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Other recommendations identified the need for Ontario to engage in stronger advocacy of the food processing sector, particularly at the federal level, and for the agriculture ministry to consider implementing programs to address the needs of small and medium-sized businesses.
Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal appointed the eight-person committee last year to advise him on how to support the industry in meeting Premier Kathleen Wynne’s 2013 challenge to create 120,000 new jobs and double the agri-food sector’s annual growth rate by 2020. The committee was co-chaired by Amy Cronin, who’s also chair of Ontario Pork’s board, and deputy agriculture minister Deb Stark.
The committee notes the industry is on its way to meeting the challenge. In 2014, Ontario agri-food exports totaled $12.5 million, up 5.5 per cent over 2013. Agri-food sector jobs in 2014 were at 781,639, an increase of 2.2 per cent over 2013.