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Ontario Expanding Agriculture Opportunities in the North

Archived News Release

Ontario Expanding Agriculture Opportunities in the North

Province Launching Consultations on Northern Livestock Pilot Project

Ontario is working to increase access to local food, create jobs and boost economic growth in the North by establishing a livestock farming pilot project.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal met with Indigenous partners, local municipalities, livestock organizations and industry today in Timmins to discuss the Northern Livestock Pilot project and kick off consultations with stakeholders and communities on supporting viable agriculture in the North.

The Northern Livestock Pilot project will:

  • Invest in new research to understand the social, environmental and economic aspects of Northern livestock expansion
  • Work to provide a parcel of Crown land to help kick start livestock farming in the region
  • Develop educational and other resources to help those starting a farm in the North.

Supporting growth and competitiveness in Ontario's agri-food industry is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • As of the 2011 census, there were approximately 1 million acres of farmland in Northern Ontario, with about 703,000 acres in production. This was made up of about 2,600 farms, which generated close to $192 million in revenue.
  • Ontario is in the process of releasing updated soil mapping in the Cochrane District to help inform farmers’ business and production decisions.
  • The province has invested $12.7 million through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation since 2013 to improve 25,500 acres of Northern Ontario agricultural land to strengthen and grow agricultural production.
  • Ontario also supports applied research, information resources, and training programs by the Beef Farmers of Ontario through Growing Forward 2, a five-year commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments to support Canada's agri-food and agri-based products sector.

Additional Resources


“This pilot reaffirms our government’s commitment to Northern Ontario. We understand that job creation, economic diversification and access to local food are important to Northern Ontario residents. I look forward to working with our partners and Indigenous communities to develop meaningful and tangible solutions that will improve economic outcomes and expand food choices for Ontario’s Northern residents.”

Jeff Leal

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“This pilot program is an exciting opportunity for Northern Ontario, including Indigenous communities, to grow local economies and increase access to local food. By working together and fostering local innovation we can advance reconciliation and create a better future for everyone in the province.”

David Zimmer

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

“This investment in the North’s agri-food sector will help grow the economy and create good jobs for people here in Northern Ontario. Supporting growth through economic diversification in the North is an essential step toward making life more affordable and providing greater opportunities and choices in the everyday lives of Northerners.”

Bill Mauro

Minister of Northern Development and Mines

“Expanding agriculture in Northern communities is a great example of how our government is committed to growing economic opportunities across Ontario. I’m looking forward to moving ahead in this process and to working together with our industry, municipal and Indigenous partners to create a pilot which will bring positive change to Northern Ontario.”

Kathryn McGarry

Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

“It is encouraging that the provincial government has made a commitment to identify opportunities for livestock production in Northern Ontario. Expanding beef production in Northern Ontario, which has many environmental, economic and social benefits for Northern communities, has been a priority of the Beef Farmers of Ontario for several years. We remain dedicated to creating an affordable pathway for beginning and existing farmers who are looking to establish environmentally sustainable and economically viable farm businesses in the North and across the province. We look forward to continued collaboration with government and other partners to achieve this goal.”

Matt Bowman

President, Beef Farmers of Ontario

Media Contacts



Rural and North