Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Debra Pretty-Straathof, OFA Director
Harvest is a season of plenty. It’s a time when agricultural productivity is most evident. Farmers are spending long hours harvesting in the fields, and consumers are enjoying a huge selection of locally grown products at farmers markets and on store shelves.
Harvest is also a reminder that the agri-food sector is an important, vital business for Canada. We’re fortunate to have plenty of land to grow crops and raise livestock and plenty of fresh water resources. Harvest reminds us of our responsibility to use these bountiful resources in a productive and sustainable way.
According to the federal government’s Barton Report, released earlier this year, our agri-food industry has the potential for huge growth and, with the right investments, could become the second largest exporter of food in the world.
The Barton Report is a comprehensive set of recommendations from the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth. The report identified agriculture as a sector where Canada has the potential for substantial growth and export improvement based on the industry’s strengths as a trusted food supply backed by research and access to resources.
Canada’s agri-food sector is now the fifth largest agricultural exporter in the world, contributing 6.7% of our nation’s GDP and accounting for 2.1 million jobs. Canada’s agri-food exports have averaged annual growth of 9.5% over the past five years. The report defines the sector as one of Canada’s largest employers and economic engines, and poses that the sector represents a distinctive opportunity for Canada to boost inclusive economic growth.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) brings this message to our provincial government – that Ontario’s agri-food sector can and will be a driver of inclusive growth across the province. Our vision of economic growth includes distributed development opportunities that will spread wealth across the province. It will be based on the agri-food sector’s vast potential but also include other economic development across our communities.
What Ontario needs is an action plan to build on our agri-food strength and to support opportunities in our communities through strategic investment.
OFA continues to remind the Ontario government of all the reasons that investing in agriculture and our communities is an investment that will benefit all Ontarians. The Barton Report and the bounty of our harvest reminds us of Ontario’s endowments and strengths as sources of inclusive growth and opportunities for producing prosperity.