Province Welcomes Recommendations for Agri-Food Sector Growth
Premier Recognizes Agri-Food Innovators at Annual Summit
Ontario's Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee released its recommendations at the 11th annual Premier's Summit on Agri-Food today.
The Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee, comprised of leaders and experts in industry and government, was appointed last year by Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal, who tasked the committee with developing the recommendations.
The recommendations focus on three key areas:
- Increased government and industry promotion of Ontario's agri-food sector at home and abroad.
- Stronger advocacy of Ontario's food processing sector, particularly at the federal level.
- A focus on medium-sized agri-food businesses to enhance competitiveness.
In 2013, Premier Kathleen Wynne challenged the sector to double its annual growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs by 2020. The committee's recommendations, which were presented at this year's Summit, will help the sector meet the Premier's Agri-Food Challenge.
At the Summit, the Premier also honoured the contributions of agri-food innovators from across the province who are improving existing products, creating new jobs and helping to grow Ontario's economy. The Top Five Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Awards include a Premier's Award, a Minister's Award and three Leaders in Innovation Awards.
VG Meats of Simcoe won the Premier's Award for its customized training program in meat processing and retail operations, which is supporting a new generation of skilled butchers. Clear Valley Hops of Collingwood received the Minister's Award for developing an efficient process to produce unique, high-quality hops that reduces the time from harvest to freezing to 24 hours. The Leaders in Innovation Awards were presented to:
- Celmar Dairy Ltd. of Norwich for building a custom system that improves the transfer and storage of forage and cuts the time it takes to fill silos by 50 per cent.
- Durham Foods of Port Perry for creating a user-friendly food safety app that makes it easier for companies to track and document their compliance with national food safety guidelines.
- Vineland Estates Winery Inc. of Vineland for investing in Canada's first optical grape sorter, a machine that is six times faster than hand-sorting, helping to raise standards for Ontario wine.
Supporting a strong and innovative agri-food industry is part of the government's four-part plan to build Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- The creation of the Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee was announced at the 2014 Summit. The committee is comprised of leaders and experts from across the industry and government.
- Since the Premier issued the Agri-Food Challenge in 2013, the industry has added $1.3 billion in GDP and over 34,000 jobs.
- The Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Awards also recognize regional award winners from across the province.
- Since the inaugural awards in 2007, 475 producers, processors and agri-food organizations have been chosen as winners.
- Ontario’s agri-food sector supports farmers, agri-food businesses, communities and the overall economy — employing more than 781,000 Ontarians and contributing over $35 billion to the province’s economy.
“This year’s award recipients are perfect examples of the ambition and ingenuity that is driving Ontario’s agri-food sector forward. In the two years since I challenged the sector to double its growth and create more jobs, people from every corner of the industry have continued to step up with innovative new ideas. Our government remains committed to working with the industry to meet this ambitious challenge, and I am grateful to the Agri-Food Growth Steering Committee for its recommendations.”
“The Growth Steering Committee recommendations give us a roadmap for how we build on Ontario’s thriving agri-food sector and make it even stronger for the next generation. The winners of today’s awards are all exceptional examples of how our diverse sector can achieve this by tapping into a wealth of talent and knowledge here in Ontario.”
“After meaningful dialogue and collaboration, we were able to present to Minister Leal our recommendations for moving forward. The Committee is confident that Ontario's agriculture and agri-food sector can grow and compete both domestically and globally. By working together and with the government, I am confident that Ontario's agri-food sector can reach the goals set in the Premier's Challenge.”