Oct 1-7, 2018 is Ontario Agriculture Week.  It’s a great time to highlight Ontario fruits and vegetables enjoyed year round, but particularly at Thanksgiving.  Let’s remember to give thanks for the province’s 52,000 farmers who give us fresh and nutritious food, and contribute greatly to Ontario’s economy.

Dr. Warren Jestin

The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre has appointed Warren Jestin as the new chair of the board. He replaces former federal agriculture minister Lyle Vanclief. Jestin was formerly chief economist at Scotiabank until his retirement in 2016. 

First place and congratulations to the OFVGA’s website ‘The Grower.’  The Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation recognized media excellence at its 2018 annual conference and awards competition on September 22 in Winnipeg. 

Harvest at Canada’s largest sweet potato grower, Berlo’s Best Sweet Potatoes, Simcoe, Ontario. Photo by Glenn Lowson.

Sweet potatoes are under water in parts of North Carolina, as a result of hurricane Florence. Only one-quarter of the crop, valued at $350 million U.S. last year, had been harvested. Meanwhile, Canada’s largest grower says the industry will work together to help fulfill market demand. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, second from right, with Rick Nicholls, MPP Chatham-Kent Leamington, left; Monte McNaughton, MPP Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Minister of Infrastructure; and Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture.

Ontario will hold the line on further raises to the minimum wage currently at $14/hour. And a new natural gas program should mean lower heating and fuel costs for fruit and vegetable producers. Premier Doug Ford made the natural gas announcement at the International Plowing Match.

The United Fresh Washington Conference, Sept 24-26, will be the epi-centre of U.S. discussions on fresh produce trade, markets and related public policy issues.  Ontario industry representatives will be there to ensure members remain current and competitive in this climate of uncertainty.

Polymer Logistics’ Canadian profile in reusable containers for transport and merchandising systems just got a boost with the appointment of Eric Biddiscombe.  His long and broad tenure with Loblaw Companies gives him the ‘street creds’ to grow the Canadian arm of the company.

The quality and safety of tender fruit at the Vineland Growers’ Cooperative is getting a boost from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, with funding to implement new food safety measures. Member Phil Tregunno was an early adopter this past summer at new packing facilities at Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

Tomato processors are rushing to keep up with Ontario’s $52 million harvest. And a look back at the stats shows just how far the industry has come in average yield per hectare.