Minister Leal Strengthens Agri-Food Ties Between Ontario and Wisconsin
Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, issued the following statement after meeting with government and business leaders in Madison, Wisconsin:
"Ontario and Wisconsin share an important trading relationship that drives economic prosperity and creates good jobs on both sides of the border. In 2016, two-way free trade between our two jurisdictions totalled $7.9 billion, including $1.6 billion in agri-food trade. This productive partnership also results in Wisconsin enjoying an almost $1 billion agri-food trade surplus with Ontario.
Our strong partnership was evident today in the warm welcome I received during my discussions with Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Ben Brancel, Senator Terry Moulton, Chair of the State Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism and Representative Lee Nerison, Chair of the State Assembly Committee on Agriculture. We discussed the importance of two-way trade and the operation of the dairy industry in our respective jurisdictions.
I also had the pleasure of meeting with local agri-food business leaders, who emphasized the importance of secure and efficient movement of food ingredients and products between Ontario and Wisconsin. Streamlined food inspection rules and border-clearance regulations speed up cross-border shipments, which are vital for perishable food and products with a short shelf life. Our discussions reinforced that both Ontario's and Wisconsin's agri-food industries rely on trade for access to food ingredients, packaging and customers.
I would also like to thank representatives from Ontario's agri-food industry who accompanied me to Wisconsin and for providing a business perspective on the importance of two-way trade between our jurisdictions.
As Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, I remain committed to continuing to grow our agri-food sector and boost our economy. My visit to Wisconsin was only the beginning of a series of conversations and engagement with decision-makers there and in other key Great Lakes states. I am committed to continuing this positive dialogue and fostering relationships that will strengthen economic ties for the mutual benefit of our workers, producers, agri-food businesses and customers."