Province invests more than $6.5M in northern Ontario agriculture
By Top Crop Manager
The Ontario government announced the province is investing more than $6.5 million in 20 agriculture projects across northern Ontario.
The announcement was made during the first day of the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo in Verner, Ont., which is located between Sudbury and North Bay.
Included in the 20-project list is $200,000 for BisON to build a new bison ranch in Crystal Falls to meet increasing demand for bison meat in Ontario.
Other investments include:
- $400,000 for Ferme Roberge in Verner, Ont. to expand its business by diversifying into the broiler chicken industry.
- $336,956 for Krause Farm and Rental in Verner, Ont. to expand its business to export quality hay and domestic lamb.
- $59,667 for Parview Farms in Cache Bay, Ont. to expand its dairy farm operation.
- $46,025 for Dryden Sons Company to start a farm in Mindemoya.
- $200,000 for Randy Martin Farms to establish a farm to grow high-grade soybeans in Richard’s Landing.
- $99,750 for Scott Runnalls to start a cash crop farm in Thornloe.
- $93,546 for Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario to develop a three-year program to train new, young and existing farmers in ecological agriculture in Northern Ontario.
“The agricultural industry is a key economic driver and significant job creator in many northern communities,” said Greg Rickford, minister of energy, northern development and mines, at the event. “These investments in the north’s agri-food sector help farmers and food producers improve their farmland, expand their operations and increase revenues.”
Investing in tile drainage
In addition to helping individual farming businesses thrive, more than $4.3-million in funding is going toward five tile drainage projects across northeastern Ontario. Tile drainage removes excess water from soil below its surface, particularly in the spring, using perforated, plastic tubing buried in the fields. Removing excess water allows farmers to work the fields sooner and helps crops develop deeper root systems that support better growth.
Tile drainage projects create more opportunities for economic growth in northern Ontario by increasing the amount of land available for farming and increasing the value of existing farm land. In recent years, Ontario has invested more than $37 million in 41 tile drainage projects, representing 64,569 acres of northern Ontario farmland.
Looking to the North
In 2017, Top Crop Manager published an article about the opportunities and challenges for agriculture in northern Ontario. Urban sprawl has some Ontario farmers, agricultural organizations and even politicians looking to the north as the future for agriculture in the province. It is one location where producers can find cheaper land – typically priced between $1,000 to $1,500 per acre – and lots of it. However, the area is not without its challenges, with less growing days, less infrastructure, elevators, seed suppliers and equipment dealers.
The province’s recent $6.5 million investment announcement is a vote of confidence in the agriculture industry in the north and that could help snowball other investments in infrastructure.