Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sectors are leading economic drivers for the province, contributing $47.7 billion in GDP and employing over 837,000 Ontarians. Building on this success depends on our access to a skilled workforce.
Agriculture and food incubators and food hubs are cropping up across Ontario to support agri-food entrepreneurs and fill infrastructure gaps for cold storage, processing, distribution, and mentorship opportunities. The Ontario government should recognize the value that these facilities bring to the agri-food sector to support innovation and entrepreneurship, and it should be promoted to new and beginning farmers.
In 2017, Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) study found that currently four jobs exist for every OAC graduate entering Ontario’s food and agriculture sector, including new and beginning farmers. Nearly four out of five agri-food employers preferred to hire formally-trained staff, and a strong demand exists for co-op programs and experiential learning.
OFA promotes education, training, and skills development opportunities for our members through organizations such as the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) and the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP).
OFA believes agriculture and agri-food skills development and training needs to be a priority for academic institutions and government to support Ontario’s thriving agriculture and agri-food industry.
OFA believes the Ontario government must work closely with its universities and colleges to ensure facilities and resources are available to meet agri-food skills demand, now and in the future.