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Expanding Ontario’s agri-food sector

Expanding Ontario’s agri-food sector

New advisory committee will enhance sector with help from key industry members 

Staff Writer
A new agricultural advisory committee, with help from industry leaders, hopes to broaden the province’s agri-food sector.
The committee will provide innovative perspectives on future development in the industry. Randy Pettapiece, parliamentary assistant to Ernie Hardeman, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, will chair the committee.
"Our government wants to hear from leaders in the province's agriculture sector to ensure we approach the challenges we face in a way that reflects the needs of the sector," Pettapiece said in an Ontario government release yesterday.
Hardeman announced details of the new committee yesterday.
"Our agri-food business leaders know what's best for expanding the sector," said Hardeman in the release. "I look forward to working with them on the issues that impact the industry, and how our government can help support the sector now and for the long term."
Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Norm Beal, CEO of Food and Beverage Ontario, and Dave Buttenham, CEO of the Ontario Agri Business Association, will serve as vice-chairs for the committee. 
Some growers see news of the committee as promising, saying it indicates government interest in farmer’s thoughts on the industry.
“I think Ernie Hardeman’s got a good idea,” Ken Durham, a cash cropper from the Niagara region, told today. “It’s about time the government listened to farmers for a change.”
The committee will begin meetings in the new year and will meet regularly to examine issues in the ag industry. The group’s efforts will help to “ensure policies and programs foster economic growth without imposing additional regulatory burden or costs on farmers or agri-food businesses,” the release said. 
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