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Ag is ‘a strong driver of Ontario’s economy:’ Minister Leal reflects on 2017
Ag is ‘a strong driver of Ontario’s economy:’ Minister Leal reflects on 2017

Ag is ‘a strong driver of Ontario’s economy:’ Minister Leal reflects on 2017

Minister of ag comments on the strength and resiliency of the sector

 

By Kaitlynn Anderson

Staff Reporter

Farms.com

 

From defending supply management during the NAFTA renegotiations to honouring families that have been farming for more than 150 years, the Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said he has immersed himself in Ontario’s agricultural sector over the past year.

So, we asked Minister Leal to share some of his reflections from 2017.

“When I start reflecting on 2017, (I see that) the sector, by large, is doing extremely well,” he told Farms.com today.

The sector continued to grow this year, and “agriculture and agri-food processing contributed over $37 billion to Ontario’s gross domestic product (GDP).”

Agriculture remains a strong driver of the economy, employing over 800,000 people, Leal added.

“Of course, the foundation of this (sector) is the 50,000 family farms in the province of Ontario.”

This industry is also very strong and resilient, Leal noted.

“When we reflect that 1.4 per cent of Ontario’s population is supporting 98.6 per cent, that tells you how productive and how innovative Ontario agriculture is,” he said.

And the sector will play an important role into the future.

“The United Nations tells us that, by the year 2050, there will be 9 billion people in the world to feed. Ontario … will be a big part of supplying that food to the world.”

Throughout the year, the province also continued to work with its main research partner, the University of Guelph.

For example, the province announced the opening of “the new beef research centre in Elora, which is right across the road from the dairy research station,” Leal said. (The Beef Farmers of Ontario, the University of Guelph, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs operate the facility together.)

“It’s great to see innovation each and every day,” he stated. “We will continue to push forward on all fronts.”