2020 Agri-Food Forum - Logo

Municipal Agri-Food Forum 2020

Growing a Better Future: Agri-food & Municipal Collaborations in the 2020’s

Explore your role in:
Innovation – Food Security – Diversification – Direct Marketing – Export – Ag Systems Approach
Youth in Ag – Prime Ag Land Issues – Farm Labour – Rural Third Spaces

Day 1 – November 18, 2020

Hosts: Alex Ripley, Economic Development Officer, Huron County & Vicki Lass, Agriculture & Rural Economic Development Advisor OMAFRA

Date & Time of Session Title of Session Description
12:30 pm Intro & Welcome

Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs
Jim Ginn, Huron County Warden

Setting the Stage: Your Hosts, Alex Ripley and Vicki Lass
Agriculture Economic Development Guidebook

Forum Contest Play to Win As you take your virtual field trip around Huron County (watch for the link to the field trip), join our contest to win 1 of 3 prize packages for a Huron County experience. Contest link will be shared via chat so you can answer questions related to the videos and resources shared throughout the Forum. Winners will be announced at the end of Day 2. Good luck and have fun.
1:00 pm Export as a Growth Strategy

In 2019, Ontario’s agricultural exports totaled $16.6 billion. Export brings new revenue opportunities to businesses along the agricultural value chain, through opportunities for increased sales/profits, stabilization of market fluctuations, and enhancing competitiveness. Hear from local business leaders who are active in export markets and understand the role of municipal planning and economic development in setting the stage for their success. Feel free to explore OMAFRA’s Export Resources and Supports.

Huron Commodities – Martin Vanderloo, President
Jakeman’s Maple Syrup – Chad Jakeman, CEO

Moderator: Phil Lynn, Trade and Investment Unit OMAFRA

2:00 pm Break Huron County Video Tour
2:10 pm Direct Selling & Promoting Local Food in a COVID World

COVID-19 is impacting farmers in many ways, one of the most significant being an immediate change in sales channels. This session will look at examples of producers and producer organizations pivoting to brand & sell in this new distanced reality. Our speakers will discuss lessons learned & highlight tools and resources available to municipalities to support and promote agricultural sales locally and beyond.

The Whole Pig – Teresa Van Raay, Owner Operator
Eat Local Grey Bruce – Jeannine Kralt, Executive Director
Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance – Emily Potter, Executive Director NOFIA
Always in Season – OFA Local Food Tool Kit – Danielle Collins, Economic Development & Policy Analyst OFA

Moderator: Danielle Collins, Economic Development & Policy Analyst OFA
OFA Resources for Ag

3:20 pm Break Huron County Video Tour
3:30 pm Partnering for Diversification Along the Ag Value Chain

Diversification helps to expand business opportunities along the agricultural value chain, be it new crops, related supporting industries or innovative new technologies. Our panel will discuss how they chose to diversify what role municipalities played in their diversification activities.

Maelstrom Winery – Brian Landsborough, Winemaker
Edgar’s Feed & Seed – Elliott Miller, Owner Operator
Huron View Demo Farm – Jim Ginn, Huron County Warden & Farmer

Moderator: Alex Ripley, Huron County Economic Development Officer

4:30 pm Summary of the Day & Evaluation Poll
4:45 pm Adjourn for the Day


Day 2 – November 19, 2020

Hosts: Alex Ripley, Economic Development Officer, Huron County & Vicki Lass, Agriculture & Rural Economic Development Advisor OMAFRA

Date & Time of Session Title of Session Description
8:00 am Recap and Networking Time Hosts will give a short welcome and recap of Day 1.
Participants will be randomly organized into small break-out rooms to have an opportunity to network and learn more about each other. This is that part during an in-person event where you would have breakfast together. Enjoy meeting new colleagues and making new connections.
8:30 am Greetings Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
8:45 am AgPrize – How to Inspire Innovation in Your Municipality

How can municipal economic developers encourage innovation in the agriculture sector? Huron County’s AgPrize introduces an element of competitive excitement to the process. Hear about the design and development of the program. Learn more about 2020 AgPrize winners during this presentation.

• Kate Ayers
• Julie Marocha
• Minh Nguyen
• Gokulan Thedchana
• Yohannes Wondimu

Moderator: Alex Ripley, Huron County Economic Development Officer

9:15 am Municipal Capacity to Address Current Agricultural and Rural Issues

Rural communities and the agri-food sector depend on knowledgeable and supportive municipal councils and staff to thrive. Municipalities need capacity (staff/expertise/time) to respond to new and emerging agricultural issues such as climate change, permitted uses, Minimum Distance Separation, agricultural systems planning, cannabis production, environmental policy, agricultural impact assessments and lot creation. Elected officials require an understanding of the needs of rural communities and the agri-food sector to make timely decisions that foster vibrant rural communities and businesses. The research team will present findings from surveying municipalities within the Greenbelt and discuss what can be done to increase that capacity.

Wayne Caldwell, Professor, Rural Planning and Development, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD), University of Guelph
Elise Geschiere, MSc candidate, SEDRD
Emily Sousa, MSc candidate, SEDRD
Regan Zink, MSc candidate, SEDRD

Moderator: Helma Geerts, MSc, RPP, Land Use Policy & Stewardship, OMAFRA

9:45 am Break Huron County Video Tour
9:55 am Embracing the Agricultural Systems Approach

Have you been thinking about advancing the agri-food sector in your region? Have you been considering taking an agricultural system approach as municipalities are doing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)? Join our panel to hear about successes, challenges and inspiration around taking an ag system approach in your municipality. Examine your role in championing this approach and how this can be one of the most rewarding collaborative approaches for helping the sector thrive. Learn from pioneers in the GGH and those just getting started in this process outside the GGH.

• Top 5 things to know about the Ag System – Carolyn Puterbough and Helma Geerts, OMAFRA
• A new paradigm for the Greater Golden Horseshoe – Jennifer Best, Senior Planner & Meena Hassanali, Rural and Agri-business Development Specialist, York Region
• Early implementation outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe – Denise Van Amersfoort, Senior Planner, Huron County
• Agri-food asset mapping to support ag system Implementation – Marilyn Bidgood, Project Manager, ConnectON, Golden Horseshoe Food & Farming Alliance (GHFFA)

Moderators: Carolyn Puterbough & Helma Geerts OMAFRA

OMAFRA’s Agricultural System webpage (check for updates soon)
Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe
Prime Agricultural Areas
Agricultural System Portal
Agriculture Economic Development: A Resource Guide for Communities
Ontario Federation of Agriculture-OMAFRA Resources to Support Agriculture in Your Community

11:10 am Break Contest Winner Announced
11:20 am World Café Conversations

Eight Concurrent Breakout sessions – some sessions will be duplicated to keep participant numbers low to facilitate inclusive conversations.

1. Food Security
As defined by the World Food Summit 1996 “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and. healthy life”. Yet in a highly productive and prosperous province we have citizen’s living with Food Insecurity. What can we as municipal staff, administration, councillors and those active in the agri-food supply chain do to change this situation of food inequity? How do we measure the success of our efforts? How do we take into account variation in the severity of household experience with food security? What are the long run challenges?

Guest Panelists:
Professor Brady Deaton Jr, McCain Family Chair in Food Security, Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, Food Security and Canada’s Agricultural System Challenged by COVID-19
Joelle Lewis, Director of Research, Social Research & Planning Council, United Way Perth Huron

2. Ag Workforce
Workforce shortages are not new to the ag sector but 2020 shone a light on this ongoing issue. Ontario, as Canada’s largest agriculture employer, was impacted by this shortage more than ever. The farm and food processing sectors face unique challenges in Ontario and across the country that impact our ability to attract and retain a local workforce. Work is often temporary and seasonal by nature. The national labour shortage in the agriculture industry is approximately 60,000 workers. With the pandemic we started to see sustainable solutions appear such as OFA’s Feeding Your Future program. We also saw local community support arise to solve immediate crises, such as Collingwood’s tourism sector workers offering to do early pruning in apple orchards when traditional orchard workers could not enter the country. Explore long term solutions and opportunities in this session that can be used in your community to foster growth of the ag workforce.

Guest Panelist:
Danielle Collins, OFA Policy Analyst

Feeding Your Future

3. Cannabis as an Ag Use
Recreational cannabis officially became legal on October 17th, 2018 and, although the industry is federally-regulated through the Cannabis Act, 2018, municipalities have found themselves on the front lines of regulating the industry and navigating the opportunities and challenges that come with this. Cannabis cultivation represents a relatively low footprint (regulated Ontario producers hold a combined 143 licenses and use 95-hectares of land for indoor cultivation and 176-hectares for outdoor cultivation), yet the on-the-ground impacts can be significant. Though many of the issues cannabis introduces are not dissimilar to other forms of agricultural commodities (odour, light, etc.), municipalities struggle with regulating cannabis production and processing. This session seeks to explore what approaches are working for municipalities and what questions still require answers.

Guest Panelists:
Mat Vaughan, Director of Planning and Development, County of Brant
Jocelyn Beatty, Rural Planner, Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch, OMAFRA

4. Lot Creation in Prime Ag Areas
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) includes lot creation policies that are intended to reduce the fragmentation and loss of farmland. However, there continues to be strong interest in exploring issues related to creating small agricultural lots for new farmers or specialty crop production, or lot creation to facilitate consolidation and expansion of farm operations. However, agricultural lots less than 24 hectares in size already make up more than fifty percent of all agricultural lots in Ontario. While the number of existing small agricultural lots varies across the Province, in all counties and regions in Ontario, small agricultural lots less than 24 hectares size make up one-third of all agricultural lots and in many areas this proportion exceeds fifty percent. This interactive session provides an overview of the impacts of lot creation policies in Ontario over the long-term. We will also present a methodology for assessing municipal lot creation policies which will be used to inform a current OMAFRA-UofG study focused on providing a province-wide evaluation of the extent and nature of lot creation across Ontario between 2010 and 2019.

Guest Panelists:
Dave Guyadeen, Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph
John Turvey, Policy Advisor, Food Safety and Environmental Policy Branch, OMAFRA

5. Community Cohesion – Loss of the Rural Third Space
In community economic development, the third place is the social setting separate from the two other social environments of the home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). American sociologist Ray Oldenburg, identifies “third places” as “the public places on neutral ground where people can gather and interact.” These spaces bring community cohesion to our rural areas. They often are faith-based, recreation-centered or could even be the local coffee shop or pub. But we are losing our third places at an alarming rate. Learn about the Huron County Kingsbridge project and the value of preserving this third place for the local rural community. Explore the impact of these places on local economies in terms of employment and business opportunities and investigate their relevance in terms of social engagement and community involvement.

Guest Panelist:
Jennifer Miltenburg, Councillor Ashfield Colborne Wawanosh and Kingsbridge Board of Directors Link Kingsbridge Video (coming soon!)

6. Attracting Youth to Agriculture
Youth retention and attraction in rural Ontario has long been a focus of economic developers. Youth help build a robust workforce and bring energy and diversity to our local communities. Youth provide a new perspective on leadership and thrive as entrepreneurs when empowered. Studies from around the world on successful youth attraction to rural areas, specifically to the agricultural sector, agree that engagement at an early age with opportunities in the ag sector, as well as adding agriculture, food and related industry studies to the curriculum, greatly improve the chances of youth choosing a future in agriculture and a home in rural Ontario. Panelists will outline work by the municipality of Central Huron and the Avon Maitland District School Board to bring innovative approaches to attract youth to agriculture. Discussions will explore what you can do in your region to encourage youth to engage with and develop passion for agriculture along the value chain.

Guest Panelists:
Angela Smith, CIC Central Huron and Creator of the Bee Project
Nick Keller, Farm, Refine, Dine Specialist High Skills Major Teacher, Avon Maitland District School Board
Ray Greidanus, Manufacturing & Agriculture Specialist High Skills Major Lead, Central Huron Secondary School, Clinton

7. Collaborations with Conservation Authorities to Support Agriculture
Local Conservation Authorities play a key role in working with producers and municipalities to foster best practices for environmental management, clean water, soil preservation and drainage. Learn more about impactful programming delivered by local conservation authorities to assist primary producers and local landowners in rural Ontario. Join in the conversation about what is possible in your region.

Guest Panelists:
Louise Heyming, Grand River Conservation Authority
Chris Van Esbroeck, Stewardship Services Coordinator, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

8. Building Community Resilience
Resilience has been one of the popular terms during the COVID pandemic. But what does it really mean? And what actions do we encourage to increase community resilience? Defined: Community resilience is the sustained ability of a community to use available resources (energy, communications, transportation, food and creativity) to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations (e.g. a pandemic). This allows for the adaptation and growth of a community after disaster strikes. Communities that are resilient can minimize any disaster, making the return to normal, or a better life, as effortless as possible. Explore what actions you can take to build resilience in your rural community.

Guest Panelists:
Jan Hawley, EDO Huron East
Dr Chris Cooper, Senior Teaching Fellow, Director of Education and Founder of Edifice Atelier

Looking Out My Back-Door Huron East

12:50 pm Introduction of 2021 Host York Region
12:55 pm Wrap up and Adjourn Summary and Evaluation


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Your 2020 Hosts for the

Agri-Food Forum


Please reach out if you have any Municipal Agri-Food Forum questions. 

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