The policy environment has become increasingly supportive of the agri-food sector in recent years. Changes in the Funding Landscape: A growing number of economic development organizations and granting bodies at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of government are providing support to local food producers, processors, and collaborations.
New Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) Programs (2015):
In the summer of 2015 the CFO announced a suit of new programs aimed at encouraging new entrant farmers and processors to meet the demand for small-scale production and regional demand, especially in northern Ontario.
Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) Strategic Action Plan (2014):
The CEDC released its new Strategic Action Plan 2014-2017: Transitioning to Growth. While many of the themes connected to areas of the economy this region is commonly known for—most notably manufacturing and mining—new on the scene is the CEDC’s commitment to supporting Regional Food and Local Agriculture.
Premier’s Agri-Food Growth Challenge (October 2014):
Premier Wynne challenged the agri-food industry to double its annual growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by the year 2020. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Mandate Letter (September 2014): The letter from the Premier to the Minister instructed the Minister to “[Work] with other ministries and partners to explore opportunities to develop the agricultural sector in the North.”
Provincial Policy Statement (2014):
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) is a province-wide policy developed by the Government of Ontario that directs how land can be used in the province. The PPS released in 2014 protects prime agricultural areas for long-term agriculture use and allows for more diversifi ed activities on the farm, such as larger-scale processing. In the Thunder Bay area, the municipalities of Oliver Paipoonge and Neebing have areas that meet the definition of prime agricultural areas.
Local Food Act (2013):
On November 5, 2013, the Ontario Government passed the Local Food Act, which aims to foster local food economies in Ontario. The Act brought with it $30 million in funding over three years for local food projects.
Northern Ontario Growth Plan (2011):
This 25 year plan, released in 2011, aims to strengthen the economy of the north. Agriculture, aquaculture, and food processing is one of the 11 sectors named under the Growth Plan.