The region’s recently released Agriculture and Agri-food Update and Strategy report reveals that the economic impact of the entire agri-food chain in York Region is $2.7 billion; and with gross farm sales at $301 million last year (2016), the region’s agriculture and food processing sector proves to be growing strong.
Last week, York Region Council endorsed an Agriculture and Agri-food Strategy, which has been developed to provide direction for the long-term growth of the agricultural and food production sector in the region, including future policy development, initiatives and resource allocation decisions.
“The power of the farming community as a significant economic driver should not be underestimated,” said City of Markham Regional Councillor Joe Li, Chair of the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, “The strategic recommendations outlined in the Agriculture and Agri-food strategy report will further protect and promote agriculture and farming in York Region.”
The Council endorsed five strategic goals:
- Strengthen communication and collaboration with York Region, lower tier municipalities and the agri-food sector
- Support the agri-food sector through integrated land use planning and economic development
- Support increased capacity for value added processing and support services
- Leverage the Region’s location within the Greater Toronto Area through direct farm marketing to meet demand for local food production
- Provide support for business retention and expansion of primary agricultural production within York Region
To help inform the development of the strategy, York Region staff collaborated with the York Region Agricultural Advisory Liaison Group (which was established in 2001), as well as a third-party consultant, Synthesis Agri-food Network, to survey industry stakeholders — 140 individuals, including food producers, restaurant industry members, and residents, provided their feedback.
There are currently 3,578 full-time equivalent jobs in York Region’s primary agricultural production, and 57,000 jobs in the full agri-food sector. Indisputably, it is a sector worth securing and strengthening, and a thorough strategy is an important step. Bravo to all involved.