The government wants to see more Ontario grown food on the tables of Ontario families. That is why it is providing $4 million over four years to help people buy food directly from Ontario farmers. The funding will help Farmers' Markets Ontario and the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association work with farmers to sell more local food.
This is part of the Budget announcement of $56 million over four years that will be used for buy Ontario and buy local initiatives.
"By helping farmers' markets and other venues that directly connect farmers and consumers, we all win with a greater availability of local food, more focused promotions and more sales," said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky.
"This support will provide a real boost to direct farm marketing in Ontario. For 35 years Ontario Farm Fresh has been providing Ontario farmers with the tools necessary to be successful selling directly to the consumer - things like research, training and sharing best practices", said Mark Saunders, President of the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association. "This new funding will also expand our ability to train farmers in product lines like meats, grains and fibres."
"The future just got brighter for farmers and farmers' markets in Ontario thanks to the provincial government," said Philip Powell, Chair of Farmers' Markets Ontario. "We're looking forward to expanding the number of markets, vendors and products they sell, improving the quality of research and training we can provide to them, and, ultimately, increasing the production and sales of Ontario products, which benefits all of us."
Research carried out in 2006 showed that the 125 farmers' markets represented by Farmers' Markets Ontario have annual sales of $645 million, and have an economic impact on the province of $1.9 billion.
On-farm marketing provides seasonal employment for 10,000 Ontario residents, of which 4,500 are students, and represents $116 million in annual gross receipts, according to a 2005 study.
85 per cent of people living in the Greenbelt agree strongly that locally grown food supports local farmers; 82 per cent agree that it supports the local economy, and 70 per cent agree that it preserves farmland.