MPPs learn about the economic impact of Ontario’s farms

ONTARIO FARMS SUSTAIN 164,000 JOBS AND CONTRIBUTE $22 BILLION IN ECONOMIC STIMULUS

grain farmers of ontario directors and staff were in Toronto recently with other members of the Ontario Agricultural Sustainability Coalition (OASC) at Queen’s Park to promote the value of agriculture to MPPs. The turnout and interest from our elected members was great and the information within the presentation was quite impressive.

A study, commissioned by OASC this summer from the JRG Consulting Group, has revealed that Ontario’s farm sector sustains 164,000 jobs and farm outputs contributed $22 billion in gross economic stimulus to Ontario in 2009 with a net value of $10.7 billion. This economic contribution also includes $3.4 billion paid in federal and provincial taxes to help support our health, education and transportation systems, as well as other vital infrastructure.

This information was provided to the MPPs in attendance through a presentation by Bette Jean Crews from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, on behalf of OASC. The most compelling information was the downstream value that Ontario farm production provides through the provincial food processing sector. Ontario directly exports $2.3 billion in farm products, contributing greatly to our trade balance. This also means that 70 percent of our farm products are value added in Ontario, providing the jobs and economic activity we need. For every dollar of farm products purchased for processing, $6.67 of sales volume is reaped by processors – this is an impressive multiplier effect and worthy of exploiting.

The study was pursued because the federal government projects a 2010 Ontario Net Farm income loss of $500 million. This loss is on the heels of a loss in 2009. It was made very clear to our MPPs that our agricultural industry in Ontario cannot sustain our current contribution to the provincial economy unless something is done to reverse the trend. With the projected loss for 2010, the cost to the Ontario economy will be over $1.4 billion in GDP, 10,000 jobs and $100 million in tax revenue lost at the provincial and municipal levels.

The message to MPPs was positive: the situation can be reversed and farmers have a solution. Agriculture is the backbone of rural communities and can continue to create jobs and grow Ontario’s GDP. We asked for their commitment to our sector – a commitment easily justified by our economic impact data.

Grain Farmers of Ontario is committed to working with the province to implement our solutions – a permanent Risk Management Program for grain farmers, investment in research and market development and promotion of the importance of a homegrown food and bio-products industry. Our organization will continue to work with government and all of agriculture to realize Ontario agriculture’s true potential.

agriculture’s economic footprint in numbers

  • 164,400 – number of Ontario jobs supported through economic activity generated by the farming sector (value of the wages and salaries tied to those jobs = $7 billion)
  • $3.4 billion – taxes collected by provincial and federal governments as a result of economic activity generated by farm sector output
  • 13% – value of rural economy to Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • 15% – percentage of the Ontario population that lives in rural areas
  • 70% – percentage of Ontario’s farm production bought by Ontario food processors
  • $33 billion – value of the Ontario food processing sector
  • 4,000 – number of jobs lost in the short term through the slide in net farm income of $287 million (2004-08 average) to -$50 million in 2009.
  • $1.4 billion – estimated decrease in Ontario’s GDP as a result of the projected $500 million farm income loss in 2010.
  • $450 million – tax revenues lost to government due to long term impacts of a $500 million farm income loss in 2010. •
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