Ontario’s Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee has released its recommendations at the 11th annual Premier’s Summit on Agri-Food.
The Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee, comprised of leaders and experts in industry and government, was appointed last year by Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal, who tasked the committee with developing the recommendations.
The recommendations focus on three key areas:
Increased government and industry promotion of Ontario’s agri-food sector at home and abroad.
Stronger advocacy of Ontario’s food processing sector, particularly at the federal level.
A focus on medium-sized agri-food businesses to enhance competitiveness.
In 2013, Premier Kathleen Wynne challenged the sector to double its annual growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs by 2020. The committee’s recommendations, which were presented at this year’s Summit, will help the sector meet the Premier’s Agri-Food Challenge.
At the Summit (on Nov. 18), the Premier also honoured the contributions of agri-food innovators from across the province who are improving existing products, creating new jobs and helping to grow Ontario’s economy. The Top Five Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Awards include a Premier’s Award, a Minister’s Award and three Leaders in Innovation Awards.
VG Meats of Simcoe won the Premier’s Award for its customized training program in meat processing and retail operations, which is supporting a new generation of skilled butchers.
Clear Valley Hops of Collingwood received the Minister’s Award for developing an efficient process to produce unique, high-quality hops that reduces the time from harvest to freezing to 24 hours.
The Leaders in Innovation Awards were presented to:
Celmar Dairy Ltd. of Norwich for building a custom system that improves the transfer and storage of forage and cuts the time it takes to fill silos by 50 per cent.
Durham Foods of Port Perry for creating a user-friendly food safety app that makes it easier for companies to track and document their compliance with national food safety guidelines.
Vineland Estates Winery Inc. of Vineland for investing in Canada’s first optical grape sorter, a machine that is six times faster than hand-sorting, helping to raise standards for Ontario wine.