Ontario is helping to diversify and strengthen the northern economy by growing the agriculture, aquaculture, and food-processing sector in the region.
Northern Development and Mines minister Michael Gravelle made the announcement Monday at the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance Research Symposium in Thunder Bay.
The Northern Ontario Agri-Food Strategy encourages businesses and communities to work together with the province to drive the growth and development of its agri-food sector, and help increase local food consumption in Northern Ontario.
Developed with the input of agri-food businesses and organizations, as well as local and indigenous communities, the strategy identifies government commitments to help grow the sector, such as supporting research and the growth of the food, beverage, and aquaculture industries, as well as expanding livestock farming and soil mapping in the region.
“The strategy released today [Monday] will provide the foundation for a strong agriculture, aquaculture, and food-processing sector here in the north,” said Gravelle, who made the announcement on behalf of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs minister Jeff Leal.
“By fostering innovation and strengthening these burgeoning industries, our government is investing in the new opportunities that will ensure northerners are part of our province’s ongoing economic success,” he noted.
Leal said Northern Ontario’s agri-food sector supports more than 4,000 jobs, contributes $230 million annually to the province’s economy, and is posed for future growth.
“This strategy identifies ways businesses, communities, and government can work together to continue to grow the sector and boost economic development and job growth in Northern Ontario,” he remarked.
Northern Ontario is home to well-established dairy, beef, grain and oilseed, potato, vegetable, and rainbow trout industries.
The region also is the biggest maple syrup producer in Ontario, and the site of more rainbow trout production than the rest of Canada combined.
The Northern Ontario Agri-Food Strategy aims to foster a culture of innovation to strengthen primary agriculture and aquaculture production and food-processing in the north.
It also aims to increase consumption of food processed in the north, and to increase opportunities for indigenous people and communities to participate in economic development in these sectors.
The strategy was informed by the participation and input of provincial ministries, agri-food businesses and organizations, indigenous communities and entrepreneurs, environmental organizations, regional agri-food networks, community organizations, and northern municipalities.