Value-added agriculture offers farmers opportunities to reach new customers and markets and increase profitability. OFA supports developing policies to support entrepreneurship and innovation to grow value-added opportunities on Ontario farms.
OFA advocates for municipalities to take a leadership role in agriculture economic development initiatives, such as value-added agriculture opportunities using our Checklist and Guide to Support Agriculture in Your Municipality and other resources on our website (www.ofa.on.ca/GrowAg) to grow the agricultural sector.
OFA communicates with municipal staff, non-government organizations, regional provincial staff and the private sector on agricultural issues, such as value-added agriculture, in partnership with OMAFRA through our Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice
In July 2019, the Senate of Canada released a report Made in Canada: Growing Canada’s Value-Added Food Sector. They found that there is significant untapped potential and suggest that we foster an environment that allows products greater access to international markets, supports innovation, research, and development, and that breaks down barriers to growth within our borders. OFA wholeheartedly supports the recommendation to foster growth in the value-added food sector.
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.” Municipalities can support value-added agriculture by creating a new property tax class for small-scale on-farm businesses. For more information, see O. Reg. 361/18 or our page on Taxation.
Municipalities can support value-added activities by passing a resolution to support OFA’s position on tax treatment for on-farm value-added activities, and forwarding that resolution to all other municipalities, the Premier, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Finance.
Municipalities can implement business development strategies, such as community improvement plans, that encourage private investment, renew infrastructure, and waive development fees.
OFA believes value-added agriculture should be encouraged through policies that enable entrepreneurship and innovation and additional revenue streams for farm businesses.
Farmers are continuously innovating how they process and sell their products. OFA believes on-farm processing, direct farm marketing, agri-tourism and other initiatives should be promoted by:
- Reforming property tax classes to create a class between farm and commercial/industrial for small on-farm processing facilities to encourage innovation and small business development (as identified in previous Ontario Budget documents)
- Enabling more activities on the farm, and making the planning and permitting process less burdensome
Promoting farm business diversification through on-farm processing and agri-tourism is a way to mitigate risk for farmers while enhancing rural economic development. OMAFRA should promote 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.