Agri-Food Innovations Grow Economy

Archived Release

Agri-Food Innovations Grow Economy

McGuinty Government Awards Top Two On-Farm Innovations
TORONTO, April 6 /CNW/ -
NEWS
Ontario's agri-food industry continues to strengthen the province's economy. This was the theme of today's Premier's Summit on Agri-Food, where two innovators were recognized with the province's top awards for agri-food innovation excellence:
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- Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company in Prince Edward County is the
recipient of the Premier's Award of $100,000. The dairy is recognized
for its work in using green technology to construct the largest
artisan goat and sheep milk cheese manufacturing facility in eastern
Ontario.
- Hillside Gardens Limited in Simcoe County receives the Minister's
Award of $50,000 for their innovation in implementing an electronic
"gate-to-plate" traceability program.
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The recipients are being recognized under the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, a $2.5 million, five-year program (now in its third year) established to recognize innovators who contribute to the success of Ontario's agri-food sector.
The innovations of 55 regional winners, who will receive $5,000 each, will be announced at regional award ceremonies this spring.
QUOTES
"In these challenging economic times, we need everyone working together so we can emerge from this recession even stronger. Our farmers produce the food we eat; their fields are home to wind turbines providing clean, renewable energy to Ontario families; and they're harvesting crops we're still finding new uses for in the auto industry. Agriculture has always been one of the cornerstones of Ontario's strong economy. These awards are a celebration of the talent and innovation we have growing here."
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- Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty
(http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/home/default.asp?Lang=EN)
"Ontario's agri-food sector continues to lead through innovation. With these awards, we are supporting the creative ideas growing on farms and rural communities across this province. Together, we are building opportunities that will make our agri-food industry and economy stronger."
- Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
(http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/about.html)
QUICK FACTS
- Ontario's agri-food sector is one of the province's leading
industries, contributing more than $33 billion to the economy every
year.
- In its first three years, the Premier's Award for Agri-Food
Innovation Excellence has attracted more than 550 applications
highlighting on-farm innovations.
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LEARN MORE
See videos (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/mm/) of previous award winning innovations and discover the variety of previous award-winning on-farm innovations at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website.
Learn more about other government programs supporting innovation (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/default.asp) in Ontario by visiting the Ministry of Research and Innovation website.
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BACKGROUNDER
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ONTARIO FARMERS RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR INNOVATIONS
Top two winners of the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence:
Premier's Award Recipient ($100,000)
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company - Picton, Prince Edward County
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You could say it's the 'big cheese.' Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company is the largest artisan cheese manufacturing facility in Eastern Ontario to process goat and sheep milk. It's also Canada's only certified Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Dairy. This state-of-the-art facility's solar, wind and geothermal technologies have helped reduce its energy consumption by 60 per cent. The dairy's sustainability theme is carried throughout the entire enterprise, from environmentally friendly waste processing to green cleaning agents and biodegradable packaging. The facility has received awards for both its product and its green buildings. The dairy has even built subterranean caves for aging cheese that provide a cool environment with little energy input.
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Minister's Award Recipient ($50,000)
Hillside Gardens Limited - Bradford, Simcoe County
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Ron Gleason is helping to strengthen the gate-to-plate connection. He redesigned an existing software program for use as a farm traceability program. It's capable of tracing all field activities from harvest, to packing, to shipping dates and destinations. Lot IDs are assigned in each step in the process, and the end product is dated with a bar code sticker. The wireless, computerized system will only allow product that has been assigned to a load to be picked and scanned. This improves many aspects of the business, from rotation and quality issues to recall efficiency and inventory control. The system provides "real time" inventory and work is underway to expand its capabilities.
About the Awards Program
Awards - The five-year, $2.5-million Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence is now in its third year. There can be up to 55 regional award winners chosen annually, with a cash prize of $5,000 each. From these winners, a Minister's Award of up to $50,000 and a Premier's Award of up to $100,000 are selected.
Who is eligible? - A farmer, primary producer, groups of farmers, combination of agri-food businesses, or an agri-food related organization are all eligible for recognition under this initiative. A farmer must be one of the applicants of any group. This program is not intended for the research community as there are other government recognition programs available to this sector. Applicant/nominees must reside in Ontario and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. Ontario Public Service staff and immediate family are not eligible to apply for this program.
Types of eligible innovations - Examples of innovations for this program include (but are not limited to) improved farm practices, responding to consumer demands; environmental stewardship; health and safety on the farm; energy innovations; education and marketing of agriculture to society, and local food.
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For further information: Sherry Persaud, Minister's Office, (416) 326-6439; Brent Ross, Communications Branch, (416) 326-9342