Farm and food awareness week in Manitoba
By Top Crop Manager
Sept. 21, 2015 - Manitoba's first-ever Farm and Food Awareness Week runs September 20 to 26 and will celebrate the many contributions of agriculture to the province.
According to the province's Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister, Ron Kostyshyn, Farm and Food Awareness week is an example of the province's ongoing commitment to the success of the industry.
This past January, a new five-point strategy was announced to support the long-term growth of Manitoba's food industry including smaller-scale farmers and processors. The strategy includes:
- Growing and retaining food businesses, by finalizing a food-processing strategy to reach Manitoba's $5.5-billion processing industry goal, working with existing businesses to accelerate their growth and creating online resources and tools to support food businesses;
- Investing in sector development, in partnership with industry and stakeholders, by focusing on areas with economic growth and job opportunities, such as functional foods;
- Supporting small-scale farming and processing by reallocating existing staff resources to create a small-scale processing specialist and a small-farm production specialist, while also implementing the recommendations of the Small Scale Food Manitoba working group;
- Developing innovative food safety models, through outcome-based regulations that protect food safety and consumers without creating unnecessary barriers for all sizes of food processors; and
- Increasing awareness of food production in Manitoba, through existing initiatives like the Local Sustainable Food Pilot Project and new investments that support industry-led activities.
The report of the Small Scale Food Manitoba working group, chaired by Dr. Wayne Lees, was released this past January. It made 21 recommendations to improve this growing section of the food economy, based on consultations with the public, farmers, processors and many other stakeholders.
Approximately 32,000 jobs in Manitoba are in the agriculture and agri-food industries. These jobs contribute $3.6 billion to the provincial economy.