Ontario tries to bring farmers and food industry together

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Related tags: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Ontario, Canada last week held its first annual agri-food summit in
an attempt to forge closer relationships between farmers and the
food industry.

The state's premier Dalton McGuinty said he hoped the meeting would "help forge a shared vision that will allow the industry to seize new opportunities"​.

"This summit is about developing a common vision for the future of the agri-food sector in Ontario for the next five, 10, even 15 years,"​ he added.

The summit brought together farmers and representatives from government and the food industry to identify some of the challenges and opportunities the sector faces in the coming years.

These included growing consumer demand for food that is safe, nutritious and produced in an environmentally responsible way, increasing demand for renewable fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel and making Ontario more competitive by developing new products and markets.

McGuinty highlighted the need for a long-term view and encouraged participants to seize opportunities presented by new trends and technologies.

"Working together, we can develop a vision for the future of this vitally important sector of our economy,"​ said McGuinty. "Together, we can make Ontario's agriculture and food sector the envy of the world."

The government took this opportunity to mention various initiatives that had been put into place during the last twelve months. These included commissioning an independent review of Ontario's meat inspection system, hiring more full-time meat inspectors and delivering funding to assist farmer affected by the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

In addition, the state noted the recent establishment of the Ontario Apple Growers marketing board, which aims "to allow commercial growers to speak with a single voice"​ and the Agricultural Advisory Team to consult with farmers and others about land-use.

It also wanted to highlight efforts to improve the state's "green" record, noting, for example, the delivering of $20 million to assist around 1,200 large livestock operations to better protect the environment and comply with regulations under the Nutrient Management Act that comes into force on 31 December 2005.

The agri-food industry generates more than $30 billion for the Ontario economy, employs 650,000 people and ships $8.4 billion in exports every year.

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