By Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Invest in rural regions for long-term growth. That’s the take home message in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) recently released report – Rural 3.0: A Framework for Rural Development. The policy research report outlines the case for focusing on rural areas as engines of national prosperity and suggests how public policy should leverage this opportunity.
The Rural 3.0 report states that rural regions are not synonymous with decline, but represent growth and opportunity. The report presents a convincing argument that rural regions will play a central role in meeting the major global opportunities and challenges of the 21st century. The OECD suggests innovations in food production, new energy sources to meet climate challenges and the provision of natural resources are all key contributions being made by rural regions today that will continue as global populations grow.
An international body, the OECD promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world and provides a forum for governments to work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. With 35 member countries, including Canada, the OECD works towards a collective goal to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer world.
Rural regions are places of opportunity – this consistent theme throughout the report identifies policy considerations necessary for rural economic development and explores rural development opportunities. Some of the opportunities explored in the policy report include the untapped potential for agri-food growth and competitiveness.
This timely report supports the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s (OFA) call for investments and development investment in rural Ontario as a solution to economic growth for the entire province. OFA’s 2018 provincial election campaign, Producing Prosperity in Ontario, outlines how investments in the agri-food sector and Ontario’s rural communities can lead to economic growth through job creation, affordable housing, environmental sustainability and local food security.
The need for rural growth and development isn’t just limited to Ontario or Canada. The Rural 3.0 report clearly identifies rural regions worldwide in need of government attention, proper policies and investments to realize the tremendous potential these areas offer. In Ontario we know our rural communities and farms have untapped potential to benefit all Ontarians, and welcome the global support for this position in the Rural 3.0 report.