Minister Leal Meets with Michigan and Ohio Leaders to Strengthen Agri-food Trade
Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released the following statement after meeting with government and agri-food business leaders in Lansing, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio:
"Ontario's trading relationship with Michigan and Ohio is strongly integrated, driving economic prosperity and creating thousands of good jobs on both sides of the border. A key to our shared prosperity is our continued free trade. In 2016, two-way agri-food trade between Ontario and Ohio and Michigan combined totalled $3.4 billion.
I would like to thank government leaders from both Ohio and Michigan for taking the time to meet with me this week and for their kind hospitality. My discussions with the Directors of Agriculture, Senators and State Representatives in each state centred on strengthening agri-food trade and working together to further the prosperity of our jurisdictions.
While in Michigan, I also had the opportunity to meet with agri-food business leaders with operations on both sides of the border to discuss our shared interest in maintaining free trade. They all agreed that free trade between Ontario and the United States is an important component to ensure their continuing financial and business success. Open borders ensure access to customers and allow movement of food products and ingredients back and forth for processing and consumer sales. For example, peaches found in many pies sold here in Ontario are often first shipped to Michigan to be processed into pie filling before being baked and served at kitchen tables across Ontario.
Accompanying me to Ohio and Michigan were leaders from Ontario's agri-food sector, including representatives from the Egg Farmers of Ontario, Food and Beverage Ontario, Food & Consumer Products of Canada and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Their insights and first-hand experiences have been invaluable in reinforcing why two-way trade with Ohio and Michigan is so important.
I cannot underscore enough the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with my U.S. counterparts. Over the next several weeks I will visit New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois to further engage with government and business decision-makers on how we can work together to continue to make free trade a priority. Agri-food trade is crucial to growing our agri-food economy, creating jobs and providing safe, quality food for Ontarians."