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Agrifood in Ontario has never been better': New minister looking to bolster food production

It's one of the key economic contributors for the province, and Rob Flack is confident the agriculture sector's influence will continue to grow, "For every graduate out of the University of Guelph there's four jobs waiting for them. It's going to be an economic driver of this province.”

The Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP was named minister of the newly titled portfolio of Farming, Agriculture, and Agribusiness.

Flack said it's the agribusiness side where most of the growth should be seen, "The processing side, the marketing side, is going to be an economic driver for years and years to come. The promise and potential of agrifood in Ontario has never been better."

The demand for tasty, nutritious, convenient-to-prepare foods has become a world-wide phenomenon, but for years Ontario would ship what we grow or raise to other locations to be processed. Now those processors are coming here.

 

They recently broke ground in London's Innovation Park.

They join companies like Maple Leaf Foods, pizza-maker Dr. Oetker, The Original Cakerie, and cricket-protein producer Aspire.

Flack calls southern Ontario ‘The Garden of Eden,’ "We have the soil, we have the weather -- the Great Lakes environment. We have the transportation system, the roads, the airport in London and, importantly, we have people."

Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Drew Spoelstra is looking for assurances the province will take steps to control economic pressures on farmers, "Our cost of production continues to rise. We're seeing challenges across different sectors in terms of market conditions, things like that, so there's certainly a discussion to be had around affordability and how the ministry can support farmers going forward."

Spoelstra said made-in-Ontario, or made-in-Canada, cost increases puts them at a disadvantage when competing against international suppliers. He points to greenhouse growers in particular, "They have stiff competition right across the border and there's a lot of pressure on those producers here in Canada to keep their cost of production low so they can remain sustainable."

Spoelstra is also looking for farmland protections, with growing pressures for more residential and industrial growth.

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