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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.

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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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Give your company a competitive edge – take free eLearning courses to learn more about industry best practices and to be more competitive in the marketplace!

Access the new Food Safety and Traceability eLearning courses online on the Agriculture and Food Education in Ontario online learning system through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

The new Traceability eLearning courses show how good practices can:

  • maximize productivity, improve business efficiency, reduce costs and improve business processes
  • be used to increase competitive advantage by accessing new markets
  • improve supply chain management

The new Food Safety eLearning courses will help you to:

  • identify food safety hazards that can occur in your operation
  • understand best practices and develop programs to control these hazards
  • decrease the likelihood of food safety hazards that can lead to a foodborne illness outbreak or product recall

Visit the University of Guelph website to register for a FREE account. Then simply log in and begin learning – wherever and whenever is convenient for you! Accessible versions of the courses are available. For more information, contact the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus at rcagfood@uoguelph.ca or 519-674-1500 ext. 63295.

Do you prefer classroom-based learning? Food Safety and Traceability courses and workshops are still offered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Visit their website for the dates and locations of upcoming in-person opportunities.

Online course development was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector.

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The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is rolling out a total of 21 new soil health publications. These publications provide best management practices to help you preserve and conserve soil while improving soil health and crop production. Check out these five new titles on our Soil Health in Ontario web page:

  • Adding Organic Amendments
  • Erosion Control Structures
  • Cropland Retirement
  • Soil Health in Ontario
  • Field Windbreaks

You know that high quality, healthy, productive soil is the foundation of a strong, sustainable agri-food system. These publications, part of our Best Management Practices series, can help you plan and implement practices to improve soil health and increase yields. Unfortunately, the health of Ontario’s soils is on the decline. While many farmers practice good land management practices, there is much more that can be done to improve soil health and protect soil for long-term productivity.

The five titles above are just the beginning. Check our web page regularly for future publications, which will include:

  • Cover Crops and Manure
  • No-Till for Soil Health
  • Perennial Systems
  • Subsurface Drainage
  • Soil Erosion by Water
  • Plus many more!

Our soil health publications were developed to support the upcoming Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. We’re working in partnership with stakeholders and experts to develop the Strategy with the goal to sustain Ontario’s strong agricultural production while protecting the environment and adapting to a changing climate.

All of the titles can be ordered through ServiceOntario once published. You can find the ordering information on the Soil Health in Ontario web page.

Do you have soil health questions? Contact our Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

 

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OMAFRA is once again looking to identify qualified representatives for potential appointment to the Business Risk Management Review Committee (BRMRC).  The ministry has launched a recruitment process to appoint a part-time Chair, Vice-Chair and Members to this agency.

The BRMRC is a ministry agency responsible for reviewing program participant requests in the case of disagreement on how program rules were applied to applications to select BRM programs by the program administrator. It is important that the BRMRC have representation from a cross-section of Ontario’s diverse agricultural sector.  Background information on the agency as well as job advertisements to the different positions can be found on the Public Appointment Secretariat website (https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/scripts/en/advertPositions.asp).

Anyone interested in applying can do so directly on the Public Appointment Secretariat website at (https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/scripts/en/advertPositions.asp ) until March 7, 2017.

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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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Enjoy a lively day chock-full of ideas and insights on mentoring, merchandising and marketing from one of Canada’s leading retail & farm market experts! You will leave armed and dangerous with loads of insights to try out in your operation. Your customers won’t know what hit them! (But they’ll be loving it!) We will conclude the day with an interactive “up close and personal” chat with Pete, where you can ask questions or discuss those managing, merchandising or marketing perils that keep you up at night! Don’t miss this opportunity to attend!

Topics include:

1. Building a Team
2. Merchandising
3. Marketing

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 9:30am to 3:30pm

Marriott Gateway to the Falls, Niagara Falls , ON

Investment cost: OFFMA Members $89 + HST
OFFMA Team Rate(3) $225 + HST
Non-members $150 + HST

Click here for the registration form:

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