Recognizing the benefits of diversification, Ontario farmers have responded by expanding production for niche markets and placing more emphasis on the marketing of high value-added agriculture products. The Ontario Government should develop policies and programs that highlight the value of sourcing Ontario products and ingredients by local food processors, distributors, retailers, and food service businesses.
In a 2017 survey, OFA members identified information about marketing their crop and market knowledge as the two most important factors when deciding whether to grow a new crop. Farmers want to ensure they have a buyer before they investigate new crops further. The Federal and Provincial Government should develop an organized process for obtaining and sharing information about market conditions and market opportunities for uncommon agricultural products.
OMAFRA should focus on strengthening connections between Ontario producers and processors to identify new market opportunities. More Ontario farmers would meet local food demand if there was more support for innovation and identification of opportunities for import substitution. OMAFRA should facilitate networking events for producers and processors to identify new markets.
Today’s modern agricultural businesses require broadband internet to effectively innovate and efficiently operate. Natural gas infrastructure, hard infrastructure (such as roads and bridges), and soft infrastructure (such as health care and child care) are all necessary for rural Ontario to support farm family entrepreneurship. Provincial ministries should collaboratively invest in rural economic development through improvements to hard and soft infrastructure to improve agri-food sector competitiveness in the domestic and global marketplace.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) is a five-year commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors. Strategic initiatives including cost-share funding to support projects with a focus on research and innovation. Key priority areas are economic development, environmental stewardship, and protection and assurance.
In May 2018, the Ministry of Finance approved changes to allow upper-tier municipalities the ability to create a new property tax class for on farm “value-added” activities. The intent of this new property tax class is to “provide sustainable property tax treatment to farmers who diversify their operations by engaging in small-scale processing or retail activities as a direct extension of their farming business.” See our Taxation page for more information.
OFA believes that innovation and entrepreneurship are elemental to the future of farm businesses. Ontario farmers are consistently evolving their business to run more efficiently and effectively, while identifying new opportunities for business ventures in new crop varieties, value-added agriculture, culinary and agri-tourism.
OFA advocates for increased supports for innovation, research and development – from financial incentives for new crop varieties, to policies that enhance opportunities for small-scale food processing, retail, and foodservice operations to thrive on farms and meet the urban demand for local food.