Agriculture is important to Ontario’s economy. If you know at least seven people, then you probably know somebody who holds a food-related job, since one in seven Canadians works in the agri-food system. In Ontario, our farming and food processing sector employs 700,000 people who do everything from raising cattle to processing foods and manufacturing farm equipment.
The system also accounts for over $30 billion in sales, making it the second largest goods-producing sector in the province.
To produce this much food, it seems as though there must be an endless number of farmers. However, only about 12% of people who hold agri-food jobs work directly on a farm in primary agricultural production. This means the other 88% of the 700,000 Ontarians in the industry work to process and handle food after it leaves the farm.
Food processing continues to grow, too: in 2006, food processing companies (cheese factories, canneries, slaughterhouses and vegetable packers, for example) invested over $400 million in facilities in rural Ontario and bought more than 70% of the food grown by Ontario’s farmers.
While Ontarians spent over $43 billion on food in grocery stores and restaurants in Ontario in 2005 (an average of about 10% of our disposable income), not all of our food stays here at home. In fact, Ontario exports more food than any other province. In 2003, we shipped $8.4 billion in agri-food products around the world, most to the United States.
Visit www.growourfarms.ca for more information.