Ontario Unveils Plan to Strengthen Food Supply Chain from Farm to Fork

Vineland Station – The Ontario government is building a strong, secure food supply chain and securing the province’s position as a food leader in Canada with the release of the Grow Ontario Strategy. The strategy outlines the province’s plan to strengthen the agri-food sector, ensure an efficient, reliable, and responsive food supply and address ongoing vulnerabilities through new innovations. The sector’s vulnerabilities include labour shortages, outdated supply chain infrastructure and declining processing capacity.

“The Grow Ontario Strategy is especially critical for our diverse agri-food sector in Niagara,” said Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Red Tape Reduction and MPP for Niagara West.

“Our region leads the province in grape and tender fruit production, and includes a number of major greenhouse, dairy, poultry and cash crop operations.”

“The Grow Ontario Strategy is our government’s plan to make sure the province’s food supply chain remains safe, strong and stable from farm to fork,” said Hon. Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“This plan is a bold vision of pride and trust in the quality and quantity of food produced in Ontario, grown on the foundation of a competitive agri-food industry that serves the needs of Ontarians, Canadians and the world.”

“The Grow Ontario Strategy lays out an exciting roadmap and action plan to support stability across the supply chain, fostering greater innovation and adaptation of technology while addressing labour supply challenges for the benefit of all stakeholders, but most importantly for the safety and security required by Ontario’s consumers,” said Dr. Ian Potter, President and CEO of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland Station.

“Under the auspices of Grow Ontario, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre will continue to support the horticultural sector and Ontario government to de-risk innovation and derive maximum positive impact from the challenges and opportunities of today and into the future. These actions will help increase our global competitiveness while addressing concerns related to food security and long-term sustainability of both local food consumption and production.”

The plan focuses on three key priorities:

  • Strengthen agri-food supply chain stability – increase both the consumption and production of food grown and prepared in Ontario by thirty percent, increase Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing GDP by ten percent and boost Ontario’s agri-food exports eight percent annually by 2032. This includes opening applications for the $10 million Food Security and Supply Chain Fund which will provide funding for projects such as updated inventory software, expanded warehousing to allow increased inventory levels or automation equipment to address labour gaps. The province is also strengthening its food processing capacity and food security to position the sector for growth through the $25 million Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund.
  • Increase agri-food technology and adoption – boost research infrastructure, advance the uptake of new technologies, grow the market for Ontario innovative technologies domestically and globally, and grow the use of data to support efficiencies in the agri-food sector and value chain. The province will also begin consultations on modernizing the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario Act to fuel innovation and support efforts to provide modern, relevant research information to farmers and agri-food businesses.
  • Attract and Grow Ontario’s Agri-food Talent – the province aims to increase total agri-food sector employment by 10 per cent by 2032, as well as increase awareness of modern, high-tech agri-food careers, opportunities for mentorship and hands-on job training, and support efforts to increase veterinary capacity in underserviced areas of the province. This includes launching public consultations to explore opportunities to modernize the Veterinarians Act as part of the plan to increase access to veterinary care in Ontario.

“The Grow Ontario Strategy is an important part of the Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, our fall red tape r