New agricultural development advisor for district hired

Sam Odrowski

The agricultural community has seen increased support as of late.

A new agricultural development advisor (ADA) for the districts of Kenora and Rainy River was hired in April, to replace the former agricultural development advisor, Gary Sliworsky, who retired last fall.

New ADA Jennifer Wall is stationed in Emo and has the role of providing technical guidance, advice, training, and support to local agricultural businesses and farmers.

“My job is to contribute to the development and growth of agriculture in my area,” Wall said.

“I work with clients to promote and support the development and expansion of their agricultural, aquaculture and agri-food businesses.”

Wall can provide clients with consultation services on business management, agricultural production, food processing/distribution, regulations, and agricultural economic development.

She can also help members of the agricultural community start or expand their business by identifying funding programs offered by the government.

Wall noted that agriculture within the district is a significant driver of the economy, with a total of 235 farms stationed here.

These farms bring in $22.8 million a year in farm cash receipts and contribute a total of $66 million to the province’s economy, along with 1,365 jobs.

Wall said the area is predominantly in beef production but there has been a large increase in corn and soybean outputs as of late.

Her passion for agriculture began at childhood, as both sides of her family have a long-standing history of farming.

“I grew up on my parents’ small livestock farm in Oxdrift,” she said. “I was involved in various 4-H clubs and the Dryden Saddle Club, and I thoroughly appreciate the lessons learned from growing up on a farm.”

Wall studied at the University of Manitoba where she received a diploma and subsequent degree in the field of agriculture.

She noted that her education has provided her with technical knowledge on animal production and farm business management.

Wall has worked with the Ontario Public Service since 2004 in aviation, and the forest fires/emergency services branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

She is currently working on a six-month temporary assignment as the ADA, but hopes to work the position for many years to come.

“[I] plan to apply myself fully to learn this role,” Wall remarked. “I’m excited for the potential to remain in the north and turn my career path back to agriculture.”

Since assuming the role Wall said she’s been attending agricultural events, getting in touch with local organizations, and letting them know there’s a local Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) representative in the area.

She’s also been engaging with the farming community to discuss ongoing and potential projects.

“I have been getting up to speed on the different programs that are available to help clients achieve their goals,” Wall noted.

She said she’s always had a “deep love of agriculture and Northwestern Ontario” and is excited about the potential to remain in the north.

Wall added that while she’s enjoyed the opportunities during her career with the MNRF, she’s eager to turn her career path back towards agriculture.

“I love everything about agriculture,” she enthused. “The part I enjoy the most is working with people.”

She said farmers and producers are a very dedicated, passionate and resourceful group of individuals, who she really enjoys working with.

“Farmers work hard to produce safe, wholesome food and whether they are raising livestock or growing crops, they are united in their commitment to the consumers they feed and to a quality of life,” Wall remarked.

“As the ADA I can become involved with some of their projects and help them find solutions to build and grow their businesses,”

Wall noted that the district’s farming community is already thriving but there are many opportunities to further that growth.

“Globally, there is a growing demand for food,” Wall said. “Northern Ontario also has the capacity to increase production of fish and livestock to serve growing domestic and export markets for protein.”

“More opportunities for value-added processing are also anticipated as primary agricultural output expands,” she added.

Interest in local meat and locally grown produce is growing as well, which is contributing towards a larger agricultural market within the district itself, Wall noted.

Work being done at the Emo Agricultural Research Station is also helping to improve overall yields and determine which crop varieties can be best grown in the Northwest.

Going forward Wall said she plans to build on the opportunities for expansion of agriculture within the district.

“I also hope work with Indigenous communities in the area to support any interests they may have in development of agriculture,” Wall remarked.

She encourages people to drop by her office–located inside the OPP building in Emo (5907 Hwy. 11)–if they are working on or planning any agricultural projects.

Wall can also be reached over the phone at 220-4290.