Farmers Forum staff
TORONTO — If all goes according to the Ford government’s plan, Ontarians will have much more of their diets met by food grown and processed in the province a decade from now.
The ag ministry’s newly released ‘Grow Ontario’ strategy aims to boost the consumption and production of Ontario food a whopping 30 % by 2032. The plan also envisions a 10 % increase in food and beverage manufacturing and an 8 % increase in Ontario’s agri-food exports.
It’s all part of strengthening an agri-food sector that has proven vulnerable to labour shortages, outdated supply chain infrastructure and declining processing capacity. Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Lisa Thompson said the strategy will “make sure the province’s food supply chain remains safe, strong and stable from farm to fork.”
In other key priorities, the province will boost technological improvements within the sector, as well as increase agri-food employment by 10 % with measures to attract people into the industry.
Millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent as the government attempts to make the vision a reality by 2032. The province will spend $10 million through the Food Security and Supply Chain Fund on grants to improve food processors’ technology, including automation equipment to address labour gaps. That’s on top of the $25 million Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund that the province is pumping into the sector.
The plan also calls for a couple of laws to be updated: Consultations are promised on modernizing the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario Act — to provide more relevant research information to farmers and agri-food businesses — and the Veterinarians Act — to increase farmers’ access to veterinary care.
Rollout of the strategy precedes a planned Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs trade mission to Japan and Vietnam in February 2023.