A focus on priority areas could enhance Ontario
The province’s agri-food industry could improve its economy, create more jobs and enable a better quality of life for Ontarians, thanks to a plan developed by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
In collaboration with Food and Beverage Ontario and Spirits Canada, the OFA presented this plan to the Ontario government on Tuesday, said a same-day OFA release.
The government should focus on key areas of agriculture and food, Ontario’s largest industry, to boost the overall economy, the plan said.
Ontario’s agri-food sector contributes over $40 billion in GDP to the economy annually and the proposed plan could generate “tremendous fiscal returns and overall growth for the province,” Keith Currie, OFA president, said in the release.
The three groups highlight a need for larger investments in rural infrastructure, fewer regulatory deterrents, and upgrades to labour regulations and training in the agri-food sector, the OFA outline states.
Food and Beverage Ontario representatives showed their support for the sector by reminding the government of the interdependence of farmers and manufacturers. Ontario food and beverage manufacturers purchase 65 per cent of agricultural products grown in the province, Norm Beal, Food and Beverage Ontario chief executive officer, said in the release.
“The agri-food sector can and will be the number one driver of economic growth in this province,” Beal said to Farms.com yesterday.
“We have a lot of advantages, and our farmers grow the best and safest food in the world. We have a very robust food and beverage processing sector that can add value to primary agricultural products. If we get (the ag) sector really humming and driving job growth, we’ll be able to help the government bridge their fiscal deficit.”
Ontario’s spirit industry is also tied to the province’s agri-food sector, said Jan Westcott, Spirits Canada executive chief officer.
“When governments recognize and act to support the massive opportunities in the agri-food industry, primary manufacturing industries like ours will also grow and prosper, generating more tax dollars and creating more jobs,” she said in the release.
The outline aims to bring attention to opportunity in Ontario’s agri-food industry.
The plan is “about unleashing the potential for our industry to grow and create jobs,” said Beal.
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