Ontario's Local Food Approach
Ontario's local food industry is a major contributor to our province's economy. The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs recently established the final goal of the Local Food Act, 2013: Remove Red Tape Barriers and Open the door for Local Food in the Broader Public Sector. The goal will make it easier for organizations like colleges, universities, hospitals and municipalities to procure local food.
On March 18, 2019, the government announced several steps to support the goal, including:
- Launching a series of new case study videos, featuring best practice advice from different broader public sector organizations
- Creating a new, interactive, local food hubs map that connects local food businesses to potential new markets
- Providing easy-to-use tracking tools to measure procurement so organizations can set their own goals to increase their use of local food and track their success
- Awarding public sector institutions that achieve their local food targets with certificates of recognition from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Making it easier to use the Foodland Ontario logo to promote local food
- Offering government-led how-to webinars for agri-businesses wanting to become a local food vendor
- Continuing to promote local Ontario food through the Foodland Ontario program
- Ensuring the Ontario Food Terminal continues to play a key role in Ontario agriculture by looking at opportunities to make it even better and by making its role in the local food sector stronger.
- Ongoing consultation with farmers, distributors and the broader public sector on red tape barriers in the local food economy.
Stakeholder consultations occurred in the early winter of 2019 that helped shape the goal.
Buying and supporting local food creates jobs and economic growth in communities across the province. To encourage Ontarians to enjoy more local food, the Local Food Act, 2013 was established to increase consumer awareness and education; improve access to local food; and ensure there is sufficient supply to meet demand.
Local Food Act, 2013
The Local Food Act, 2013 was created to help foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems in Ontario, help increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food, and develop new markets for local food.
This legislation is designed to help build Ontario's economy, create more jobs and expand the agri-food sector - by making more local food available throughout the province.
The Act does this, in part, through the following initiatives:
- Encouraging more local food use across the broader public sector.
- Helping increase access to local food, improves food literacy in respect of local food, and encourage increased use of local food by public sector organizations.
- Proclaiming the first week of June each year as Local Food Week.
- Amending the Taxation Act, 2007 to create a non-refundable tax credit of 25 per cent for farmers who donate their agricultural products to eligible community food programs such as food banks.
- Requiring the Minister to prepare an annual local food report that summarizes the government's activities in respect of local food.
OMAFRA Local Food Supports
The Local Food Act, 2013 is one part of the local food strategy. OMAFRA continues to support local food through additional initiatives and programs, such as:
- Support for beef and pork farmers during trade disruption with China
- Foodland Ontario
- Support for Direct Farm Marketing and Farmers' Markets
- Agri-food Education
- Local Food Advisory Services – regional advisory services, Business Information Bundles (i.e. Urban Agriculture and Beyond Agriculture), production specialists, and business and marketing specialists.
- Best Practices Guide for Municipalities
- Local Food Procurement Policy that requires ministries and agencies to consider purchasing local food for procurements less than $25,000.
- Tax Credit to Benefit Farmers and Communities
- Celebrating innovation and success (Excellence in Agriculture Awards, Retailer Awards)
- Fresh from the Farm
- Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association
- Farmers' Markets Ontario