From FCC Express
By Owen Roberts
A committee formed to draw the roadmap to the future success of Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector has set the course for doubling exports and creating 120,000 new jobs.
The eight-person committee, with members from government, industry and primary production, presented their recommendations last week to agriculture and agri-food minister Jeff Leal.
Key areas targeted in the report are processing, exports, branding and competitiveness.
“The committee’s advice proposes key ways to help the agri-food sector reach its full potential for long-term success,” Leal says, noting action on the recommendations will begin in the new year. “These recommendations will benefit Ontario farmers and the agri-food sector as a whole.”
Leal says the committee recognizes the potential of Ontario’s food processing sector, and the opportunity it provides to further grow primary agriculture in the province, which already produces more than 200 commodities.
He says about 65 per cent of the food produced on Ontario’s farms is used in-province by food processors. Processors’ success reverberates throughout the value chain, to farms and agribusinesses.
The committee focused its recommendations on barriers to growth. Besides developing the food processing sector, it said the province needs to better promote and target the competitive business environment, focus on differentiation of Ontario-produced foods and collaborate with industry on a plan to build up the competitiveness of Ontario’s agri-food sector, with a focus on innovation, scale and modernization.