Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, met with over 125 leaders in the food supply chain to discuss food security and to collaborate on strategies that will help Ontario’s food supply chain remain one of the strongest, safest and stable in the world. The Ontario Food Summit builds on the province’s continued actions to support the agri-food sector through investments in processing capacity, labour initiatives, innovation, research and pandemic supports. Participants included agri-food businesses, farmers, Indigenous organizations, transportation services, and food service providers.
“Our government is ensuring that everyone can access safe, high-quality and nutritious food grown right here at home”, said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Our partners in the food supply chain all have an important role to play and I appreciate hearing their thoughts and ideas on the actions needed to continue a safe and stable food supply. The ideas we heard today will help us strengthen and build the sector for the future.”
Discussions during the summit addressed strategies to strengthen and make the food supply chain more resilient, boost the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, and create jobs and economic growth across Ontario, by improving programs, services and supports for farmers, producers, suppliers, transporters, and distributors across the supply chain, retaining and attracting workers and building the “made in Ontario” capacity.
During the summit, Minister Thompson announced the launch of an expanded Excellence in Agriculture program to recognize farmers, processors, educational institutions and agri-food organizations and businesses who contribute to the industry’s success and drive innovation in the province’s agri-food sector. The Excellence in Agriculture program recognizes the dedication, hard work and groundbreaking ideas of local agri-food innovators whose leadership and entrepreneurship keep raising the bar for agri-food excellence. Whether it’s developing new types of value-add products, finding new solutions to increase efficiency, or helping to create or retain jobs, these innovators demonstrate why the agri-food sector continues to be an economic force in the provincial economy.
In 2020, Ontario’s agri-food industry contributed $45.0 billion in GDP to the provincial economy. One in every ten jobs in Ontario was related to the agri-food sector in 2020.
Guidelines and application forms for the Excellence in Agriculture Awards are available at Excellence in Agriculture program, ontario.ca. Award categories for the Excellence in Agriculture program include: COVID Agri-Food Innovation Champion; Innovation in Food Processing; Innovation in Agriculture; Women in Agriculture; Youth in Agriculture; Education in Agriculture; and, Northern and Indigenous Owned Business and Communities.
Applications for the 2022 Excellence in Agriculture Program are open until April 5, 2022.