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For the very first time, the 2016 Census of Agriculture asked, “did this operation sell any agricultural products directly to consumers for human consumption?”  With this simple question, we now have a glimpse into direct sales of Ontario’s local foods that we’ve never had before!

Ontario leads the country with 7,474 farms reporting direct-to-consumer sales, followed by British Columbia and Quebec with 5,667 and 5,459 farms respectively.  Overall, 15.1% of Ontario’s farms are making local foods available for direct purchase by consumers.

At the regional-level, fascinating patterns emerge in the prevalence of direct-to-consumer farm sales.  Click to see maps by the number and percentage of farms reporting direct sales.  Ontario’s Central West Region is a direct marketing powerhouse with over 330 farms engaging in direct-to-consumer sales in each of Grey, Wellington, Niagara, Simcoe, and Waterloo.  It is also notable to look at regions with the highest proportion of farms engaging in direct-to-consumer sales.   By this metric, Haliburton leads the province with 53% of farms engaging in some form of direct sales, followed by Muskoka with 48%.  In Thunder Bay, Algoma, Parry Sound, and Kenora, roughly 40% of all farms are engaging in direct-to-consumer sales – an indication of the importance of direct marketing as a sales channel for Northern Ontario producers.

NoFarmsReportingSales

Top 5 Regions for Number of Farms Selling Value-Added Products Direct-to-Consumer
  County/Region # of farms
1 Niagara 54
2 Simcoe 45
3 Grey 41
4 Durham 36
5 Prince Edward 32

What is being sold?

Nearly all of Ontario’s direct marketers (97% or 7,265 farms) are selling unprocessed agricultural products, while only 12% or 907 farms are selling value-added products.  This represents a potential area for growth as Ontario is lagging behind Quebec, most Maritime Provinces and the national average of 14%.  Niagara Region has the highest number of farms reporting direct sales of value-added products at 54.

How is it being sold?

The predominant sales channel for Ontario’s direct marketers is on-farm retail (farm gate/stand/kiosk/u-pick) with 90% (6,709 farms) using this channel.  Farmers’ markets are the second most common channel: 1,619 farms sell their products at one or more farmers’ markets.  This represents 3.3% of all Ontario farms, just above the national average of 2.8%.  In Ontario, Niagara Region has the most farms reporting farmers’ market sales (122 farms) while Kenora, Thunder Bay and Algoma have the highest proportion of farms reporting farmers’ markets sales.

Top 5 Regions for Number of Farms Selling through Farmers’ Markets
  County/Region # of farms
1 Niagara 122
2 Simcoe 85
3 Haldimand-Norfolk 72
4 Wellington 67
5 Grey 65

Across Ontario, 403 farms report selling through Community-Support Agriculture or CSA.  These farms are fairly evenly dispersed throughout the province; every county/region has at least one farm reporting CSA sales, with the exception of Rainy River.  Grey, Durham, and Wellington have the highest number of CSAs at 19 farms each.

Of the 24,510 Canadian farms reporting direct-to-consumer sales, 30% call Ontario home!  This Local Food Week, let’s celebrate the value of our direct farm marketing sector, not only for the economic opportunities it creates, but also for the access to local food it affords, the community it fosters, and the agriculture and food literacy it builds.

Note: all data for this blog was sourced from CANSIM Table 004-0244 Census of Agriculture, farms reporting selling agricultural products directly to consumers in the year prior to the census.

 

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New year. New start.

New proposed food safety requirements.

Does your business import food into Canada, export food to another country, or sell food across provinces?

If you do, or may in the future, read on.

Strong, flexible regulations that focus on prevention will go a long way in helping businesses uphold their reputation, keep customers healthy and loyal, and avoid costly recalls.

The CFIA recently launched a 90-day consultation on the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations to better protect the health of Canadians.

What would change?

If you import food or prepare food to be exported or sold across provinces, you would be required to have preventive controls in place and you may need to write them down in a plan. Preventive controls would allow you to identify and manage food safety risks before products are sold to consumers. Strong preventive systems, such as traceability and food safety controls, could boost your competitiveness here in Canada and abroad.

You may also need to obtain a licence and meet certain traceability requirements. Learn more about the key elements of the proposed Regulations in this video.

Learn

Regulations can sometimes be difficult to understand and apply. The CFIA website is home to resources to help you determine how the proposed requirements would apply to you.

Find out if you would need a licence, a written Preventive Control Plan or what your traceability requirements would be under the proposed new rules by answering a few questions using our interactive tools.

Participate

Get involved and stay connected on this important initiative:

  • Visit gc.ca/safefood to register for a webinar or in-person information session near you.
  • Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or sign up to receive email updates.
  • Join the food safety conversation online using #SafeFoodCan.
  • Have a question? Call 1-800-442-2342 or send it to gc.ca/contactus.

Have your say

Once you’ve learned about the proposed Regulations, let us know what you think. Go to inspection.gc.ca/safefood and submit your feedback before the consultation closes on April 21, 2017.

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Grocery retailers, chefs, and other food buyers are looking for local product and they want to buy local says Jessica Kelly, a direct farm marketing specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).  “Yet, when it comes to buying from farmers and small food processors, they say there’s often a gap between what they need, when they need it, and how they do business” she adds.

OMAFRA & Town of Georgina has a one-day workshop February 2nd, bringing together farmers and small food processors to learn how to address those gaps.

OMAFRA is also partnering with the City of Quinte West to host a workshop March 1st.

Ministry specialists in business management, business development, food regulation and food safety can help business owners and managers learn more about different sales channels and how they work so participants can ultimately decide if there is an untapped sales channel that is right for their business. Each workshop is customized to local interests with subjects ranging from market channel opportunities, food regulations, food safety, pricing for profit, packaging and labelling. Participants will also learn where to get more information and support.

Your business might benefit from selling to a local grocery store or other retailer, a restaurant or public sector organization like a university or school nutrition program. The key is to invest a few hours to learn about different market opportunities and what customers expect.

The Selling Food to Ontario workshop in the Town of Georgina is available on February 2 from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm and is being held at The Link, 20849 Dalton Road, Sutton, Ontario L0E 1R0. Registration is now open.

The Selling Food to Ontario workshop in Quinte West is available on March 1 from 8:30am -3:30pm and is being held at the Trent Port Marina, 15 Creswell Drive, Quinte West, Ontario K8V 3S8. Registration is now open.

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Looking for information on agri-tourism, marketing plans, or direct farm marketing? Three updated factsheets are now available on OMAFRA’s Business Management page:

Developing an Agri-Tourism Operation in Ontario

Are you interested in opening your farm to the public? Does your farm have the potential to integrate agri-tourism into the business? This factsheet discusses what it takes to run an agri-tourism operation, how to define your target market, and the first steps in marketing your business.

Find this factsheet on our website for more information on:

  • The different factors to consider and what it takes to develop a successful agri-tourism operation in Ontario (i.e. physical resources, operations and management, activities);
  • The benefits of identifying your target market and focusing your business on attracting them to your farm;
  • The different types of activities you can offer on your farm (i.e. roadside stands, mazes, classes, bed and breakfast).

This factsheet also poses important questions to ask yourself before opening your farm to the public, including:

  • Do you like dealing directly with the consumer?
  • Are you prepared to spend every weekend during peak season tied to the farm?
  • Are you prepared to accept the liability of having the public on your farm?

After determining if you have what it takes to run an agri-tourism operation and you have defined your target audience, the next step is marketing. This factsheet helps you with the basics of marketing and the importance of public relations and relationship management.

If you and your family are looking at expanding your business into an agri-tourism operation, this factsheet will help you take the first steps.

 Developing a Marketing Plan

If you are looking for information on how to develop a marketing plan or have ever wondered if a marketing plan is necessary, the newly updated Developing a Marketing Plan factsheet is a must-read.

This factsheet provides the basics to developing a marketing plan, starting with defining the 4Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, & Promotion. This factsheets then expands into the different steps to take to create a successful marketing plan:

  • Know yourself, your customer, the marketplace
    • Focus on a specific segment or niche market
    • Conduct market research on your customers and competitors
  • Marketing Strategy
    • Where your business is headed, and objectives to meet this goal
  • Implementation Strategy
    • Set out exactly what you will do to meet the needs of your target customers and attract them to your business

After developing a strategy, how are you going to promote and market your product? This factsheet provides a run-down on the different advertising options available to you, including websites & social media, print, electronic, signage, direct promotion, special events, public relations, etc.

Our factsheet provides detailed information on the steps to take when developing a marketing plan, promoting or marketing your product, creating a marketing budget and more.

Direct Farm Marketing in Ontario- A Primer

Have you ever wanted to shift gears and become a price maker, not a price taker? Does direct farm marketing appeal to you? Similar to agri-tourism, there are many different considerations to take into account when entering the direct farm marketing business.

There are different forms of direct farm marketing, including on-farm shops, pick-your-own operations, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands. But they all have something in common: direct consumer relationships.

This factsheet helps you with a number of considerations:

  • What type of consumer will I be targeting?
  • Is your farm located near a population base/market large enough to support the direct farm marketing business?
  • Do you/could you produce a product/service that consumers would be interested in buying through a direct farm marketing channel?
  • Are your family members/employees interested in having direct contact with consumers?

Developing a marketing plan can help answer a few of these questions, and get your business started in the right direction.

Don’t forget about the potential implications of moving beyond primary production and into direct farm marketing and/or value-added agriculture. Regulations covering taxation, land use planning, signage, labelling and public health all need to be taken into account when starting a direct farm marketing venture.

While there are many different factors to consider when starting a direct farm marketing operation, it can be very rewarding for you and your customers. Local food is not a passing trend and there is a lot of opportunity for those willing to invest the time and energy necessary to make it work. For more information on direct farm marketing and how to take the first steps, read more from our Direct Farm Marketing in Ontario- A Primer factsheet.

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The Ontario government wants your help to identify opportunities to grow the Agriculture, Aquaculture and Food Processing sector in Northern Ontario.  Tell us your ideas on how industry and government can work together to drive growth of the sector.

The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario identified the Agriculture, Aquaculture and Food Processing sector as one of eleven priority sectors that can contribute to the diversification and growth of the Northern Ontario economy.  The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is developing a strategy for growing the sector and has posted a discussion paper to its website and to Ontario’s Environmental Registry.

Your ideas are important to the development of a strategy for the sector. First, read the discussion paper .

Then, share your ideas with us in one of several ways listed below. Comments must be submitted by July 3, 2016.

Economic Development Policy Branch

1 Stone Road West

2nd Floor NE

Guelph, Ontario

N1G 4Y2

  • By Fax: (519) 826-4328 (addressed to the Economic Development Policy Branch, OMAFRA)

OMAFRA will develop a strategy for the Agriculture, Aquaculture and Food Processing sector based on the ideas generated at meetings and comments submitted to the ministry by July 3, 2016.  The strategy, along with other plans and strategies for Northern Ontario, can be expected to drive policies, programs and investments in Northern Ontario over the next 20 years.

In addition, OMAFRA will follow up with willing proponents on promising opportunities to understand how the government can help them move forward with their plans.

If you have any questions, please contact northernagrifood@ontario.ca

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Learn from pork producers who use direct marketing. Ontario pork producers from The Whole Pig and Thatcher Farms will share how they’ve built their businesses and what they’ve learned along the way, making it easier for you to start or improve your direct sales business.  Staff from Ontario Pork and OMAFRA will also offer resources they have available for you.

Join us for this lunch hour webinar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Noon to 1 p.m.

 

To register, contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre (AICC):

Toll-Free : 1-877-424-1300

TTY : 1-855-696-2811

Email : ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca

 

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MarketView – September 11, 2013

Sept 11 chart

Market Drivers:

• The expectation (based on average trade guesses) that the USDA will reduce its US corn and soybean yield forecasts in tomorrow’s (Thursday) WASE report
• The expectation (based on average trade guesses) that the USDA will reduce its World and US corn and soybean stocks in tomorrow’s (Thursday) WASE report
• Concern of the impact an early frost would have on crop yield – gets less as time moves closer to harvest
• A widely variable U.S. crop

Great Lakes Grain, AGRIS Co-operative, FS PARTNERS Crop Assessment Tour Report• Estimated this year’s average corn yield across the southwest and central part of Ontario at 160.8 bushels/acre and the soybean yield at 45.6 bushels/acre
• This compares to last month’s Statistics Canada projections of 154.8 bushels/acre for corn and 43 bushels for soybeans for the whole province as opposed to the regions assessed by Great Lakes Grain
• Check out the report at http://aghost.net/images/e0015001/GreatLakesGrain2013CropAssessmentTourSummarySeptember102013.pdf
• Provides more detailed yield information and crop conditions observed during the tour held from September 3rd to 6th

Sept 11 graph

The above graph is based on weekly average Huron FOB Farm corn market prices:

  • It compares old crop corn (2012-2013) being sold out of storage (blue bars) with new crop corn (2013-2014) that will be harvested this fall (red line)
  • The time period shown for each crop year is a two year period from pre-plant, growing season, harvest and storage
  • The old crop corn is from October 2011 to September 2013 and the new crop corn is from October 2012 to September 2014

Disclaimer: This commentary is provided for information only and is not intended as advice

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