Minister Leal Building Agri-Food Trade Relations with Illinois and Missouri
Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released the following statement after meeting with government and agri-food business leaders in Springfield, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri:
"Ontario has strong trade relationships with Illinois and Missouri; agri-food trade drives economic prosperity and creates thousands of good jobs on both sides of the border. In fact, agri-food trade between Ontario and both Illinois and Missouri totalled nearly $3.2 billion in 2016.
Ontario's strong partnership with Illinois was evident this week in the warm welcome I received during my discussions with Raymond Poe, Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Our discussion focused on topics like the benefits of two-way trade between our jurisdictions, and the importance of further strengthening agri-food trade, ensuring our economies both continue to grow.
While in Missouri, I met with local agri-food business leaders, including Dot Foods, Gilster-Mary Lee and Nestlé Purina companies, who operate in or have supply chain relationships with both Missouri and Ontario. As I have heard throughout my trips to other Great Lakes states, these businesses rely on an open border for access to food ingredients, packaging and customers.
During my visits to Illinois and Missouri, I was accompanied by leaders from Ontario's agri-food sector. I would like to thank them for their continued guidance, support and expertise throughout the course of our mission.
With the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) set to begin later this year, our government will continue to emphasize the benefits of two-way trade to keep our economies and communities vibrant, both now and in the future.
These visits to Missouri and Illinois marked the end of my agri-food trade mission to the U.S., but my work to continue to build and strengthen trade relations with our southern neighbours does not stop here.
In the coming weeks, I will be meeting with my Advisory Committee on Agri-Food Trade to plan our next steps, including further advocating for the best interests of Ontario's agri-food industry and continuing to foster the relationships I have built with my U.S. counterparts and agri-food businesses over the course of this mission."