The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is joining a chorus of advocates calling for more support to bolster the province’s food supply chain.
On April 12, the chamber released Growing a More Resilient Food Supply Chain in Ontario, a new report detailing public policy measures required to address issues like food insecurity and food fraud, as well as helping producers transition to e-commerce platforms.
“COVID-19 brought our agri-food system and supply chains to the forefront. We can all remember food flying off the shelves due to stockpiling and panic buying at the outset of the pandemic,” said Rocco Rossi, the chamber’s president and CEO, in the release.
“Ultimately, while the pandemic caused parts of Ontario’s food supply chain to bend, the chain itself did not break.
“Addressing red tape and labour shortages among farmers, as well as tackling food fraud and food insecurity, will not only ensure Canada’s agri-food sector is able to withstand future challenges, but it will also support agri-food businesses and an equitable recovery.”
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In its report, the chamber makes six recommendations:
• meet the demand for local food and shift to online sales by continuing to invest in relevant programs that help producers transition to e-commerce;
• improve the AgriStability program by increasing the payment cap and payment trigger, and processing claims more quickly;
• remove red tape facing farmers, including interprovincial trade barriers for meat and meat products;
• support the next generation of farmers by attracting youth to the sector and reducing other barriers to entry like access to land and capital;
• curb food fraud through improved seafood labelling and a pragmatic plan; and
• eliminate food insecurity by collecting data, setting targets, and investing in road development in Indigenous and remote communities.
The chamber said the report was prepared with support from Beef Farmers of Ontario, Durham College, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.