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Food terminal op-ed from Minister Ernie Hardeman

The Ontario Food Terminal is one of the top wholesale produce markets in North America. Its success is a credit to the people who work there and do a great job, often with limited resources.
 
The Food Terminal is a key part of our agri-food sector, which is an economic driver for the province. Our recent provincial budget clarified the importance of the Food Terminal’s success going forward - not just next year, but for the next 50 years. I want the terminal to be not just the best in the country, but the best in the world. 
 
A lot has changed since the Food Terminal was built in 1954. Think of how much technology alone has evolved over that time. We need to look at opportunities to modernize the systems to ensure future success. 
 
As laid out in the budget, our government is working to ensure Ontario is ‘Open for Business’ by taking action to make Ontario a leading destination for investment and job creation. We are taking steps to build future growth and prosperity. 
 
As we work to grow our agriculture sector, we need to create more opportunities at the Food Terminal. Today, only 21 wholesalers are located inside the terminal. The Ontario Food Terminal Board notes that a number of these tenants have outgrown  their operation and are renting space off-site. We need to look at possibilities for growth and ways to create more opportunities for farmers. 
 
In the 69 years since the Ontario government introduced legislation to create the Ontario Food Terminal, the agriculture and retail sectors have evolved. We need to ensure the Food Terminal also continues to evolve to stay successful. The surrounding urban population has grown six-fold since then as Toronto has developed and grown, making expansion a challenge. Over time, this challenge will become even greater – making it extremely important that we plan strategically now for the future of the  Food Terminal. 
 
That is why I’ve established an advisory group, made up of industry leaders, who will look at possibilities for the Food Terminal as well as ways to reduce red tape, encourage more youth to consider careers in our sector, and support more agriculture in northern Ontario. As well, I am commissioning an independent third-party report on both the challenges and opportunities for the Food Terminal. I will also be reaching out to the Ontario Food Terminal board, terminal management, farmers, wholesalers,  as well as restaurants and stores to hear their thoughts on what works well and where there may be opportunities to improve. 
 
The Ontario Food Terminal plays a key role in Ontario agriculture – and under our government it will continue to do so. I hope that everyone will work together to ensure our terminal is strong and successful both today and for decades to come.
 
-Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs 
Source : OMAFRA