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Plenty of Opportunity Exists in Agriculture

There is room for every type of agriculture, farming, and food enthusiast

Denise Faguy,

The Guelph Chamber of Commerce recently held a panel discussion for its Pulse on Innovation series entitled “Next Generation Farming”.

As Rene van Acker of the University of Guelph reminded everyone during his presentation, the Agriculture Industry in Ontario is a $10 billion industry, and the food industry is a $40 billion industry. Rebecca Hodges from FarmStart also reminded all in attendance that only 1.5% of the population now farms.

Van Acker reviewed statistics showing the evolution of farming over the past few decades. One of the slides illustrated that more and more farming is viewed as a business, and this is reflected in the fact that farms are listed as a corporation or partnership, as opposed to sole proprietorships.

Van Acker also underlined that in the old days the ratio of “farmer to outputs” was 20:80, where that ratio has now shifted to 15:90 - based on farm size increasing, fewer farms existing, technology improvements, etc. He underlined that the driving force behind innovation in farming is always market demands.

Van Acker stated that he believes Canadian farmers are some of the most successful farmers in the world because they have successfully adopted new technology, new education, and new ways of farming and that “we lead the world in efficiencies.”

Society’s views of food are changing, consumers are no longer only concerned about calories, but are “more interested in the properties and providence of the food they eat.” Van Acker says this change in the relationship that people now have with their food provides an opportunity to offer new products and services.

The FarmStart group helps people with no farm background and little access to farming have the opportunity to farm. Many of these “new” farmers are immigrants; because they approach farming in a non-traditional way, they often create change in both the agriculture community itself, as well as in the communities they live says Hodges.

Of course attracting people to work in agriculture is a common challenge nowadays. As more and more people live in urban areas and have no exposure to farming, or connection to the food they eat, enticing people to work in agriculture can be difficult. Allan Nason of Halton Catholic District School Board and President of the Canadian Aquaponics Association said that in his school board the challenge he faces attracting his students to join his agriculture and horticulture program are the parents. Each year, Nason invites parents to attend an event at the University of Guelph with the hope of demonstrating to parents that if their children start down a specialization in agriculture and horticulture in high school, they will have plenty of career opportunities.

After attending the event, Carolyn Lee, Account Manager at was enthusiastic to work with Nason on connecting his students to the opportunities that exist in the industry; and enabling his outreach programs. “ supports initiatives that bring agriculture career opportunities to the forefront of students’ minds.”

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