processing community for their harvest.
Agriculture is a pillar of the Peterborough economy with primary agricultural and agri-business operations throughout Peterborough County. Add in food tourism and that “programming at Fleming College and Trent University focuses on sustainable agriculture, food systems and culinary management and the region is poised to lead the way into the future of agriculture” (peterboroughed.ca/sectors/agriculture).
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce along with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and dozens of other chambers and boards of trade across Ontario have released a new report on the agriculture sector called Fertile Ground: Growing the Competitiveness of Ontario’s Agri-food Sector. The report offers recommendations designed to address barriers to competitiveness in this economic sector of the province. The Agri-food sector is one of the most significant economic drivers in the province, with the industry employing 1 in 9 Ontarians and representing $36.4 billion in GDP. Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Peterborough MPP Honourable Jeff Leal spoke at the launch of the report earlier this week highlighting the relevance of the sector and its impact for provincial and world-wide food security in the future.
Furthermore, the importance of the industry is not lost on the current government. In 2013, Premier Wynne challenged the agri-food industry to double its annual growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by 2020. While researching and speaking to those in the industry, including several members of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Network found farmers and food processors’ ability to meet this 2020 target continues to be
challenged by an overly prescriptive regulatory environment.
“In the Peterborough area, agri-food stakeholders have cited regulatory pressures as a significant barrier to growing their competitiveness,” said Jason Becker, Chair of the Board, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “In fact, the food processing component of the Ontario government’s Red Tape Challenge has identified over 170 regulations that need to be updated. While this government initiative begins an important discussion, continued efforts need to take place to ensure that these industries are able to continue to create jobs and grow the economy.”
The Fertile Ground report makes 15 recommendations to government and the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has identified three priorities that could be met in the short term:
- Work with industry and all levels of government to establish a regulatory “concierge service” to assist industry in understanding, navigating and achieving compliance with relevant regulatory requirements.
- Publicly release economic impact assessments of policy initiatives that could affect the agri-food sector to ensure decision-making is evidence-based, participatory, unbiased and transparent.
- Work with industry and post-secondary institutions to ensure that program offerings remain responsive to the needs of agricultural producers and processors.
producers and processors to compete on a level playing field,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. “In 2015, Ontario
agri-food trade exceeded $14 billion. The Province must strive to do its part to enable the success of Ontario’s agri-food sector.”
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is a proud supporter of the agriculture community with an appointment to the Board of Directors from the Peterborough County Federation of Agriculture, sponsorship of the Farm Family of the Year award, many member businesses connected to the
agri-food sector and our advocacy efforts.
To read the full report go to: peterboroughchamber.ca/policy-publications