York helping to promote agriculture here and beyond the region

April 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons

The importance of agriculture in King cannot be overstated.
King councillors and staff received an update on York Region’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Strategy, providing some very impressive statistics.
Jonathan Wheatle, manger of strategic economic initiatives for York, noted the agricultural sector involves more than 700 farms and 57,000 direct jobs. More than 200,000 acres of farmland in York contribute $2.7 billion in the sector’s GDP.
King Township shares in this agricultural nugget, just as it’s home to a portion of the Holland Marsh. In this municipality, gross farm receipts per acre are $2,841, second in York. King has the highest acreage of crop land and is a notable force in horse, equine, vegetable, hay, nursery and tree production. King’s 242 farms employee roughly 500 people.
Wheatle noted York and its council has long recognized the importance of agriculture in this rea and it’s committed to maintain a vibrant and sustainable agri-food sector. The York Region Agricultural Advisory Liaison Group (YRAALG) and the 2017 Agriculture and Agri-food Strategy are testaments to this commitment. Councillor Avia Eek, a Holland Marsh farmer herself, has been an outstanding representative for King on the YRAALG.
The strategy not only outlines the economic impact of agriculture, but identifies key areas and provides recommended actions for the Region and its municipalities.
The strategy has five strategic goals and 45 action items. Among the priorities are supporting the agri-food sector through land use planning and economic development; strengthening communication among York’s producers; leveraging York’s location within the GTA and providing support for business retention nd expansion in agricultural production.
Meena Hassanali, York’s rural and agri-business specialist, pointed out some 31 of the 45 action items have been planned or implemented since the strategy’s adoption. Many of the short-term items have been completed and York is moving full steam ahead in terms of engaging stakeholders and spreading awareness. Workshops and forums help bring together York’s producers.
York has developed a strategic communications plan; participated in consultations with the Province, and collaborated on the annual Farm Fresh Guide Map.
Networking events across the Region and even the Golden Horseshoe are paying dividends.
Moving ahead, York plans to continue its education and outreach efforts; showcase agricultural success stories; launch a local food awareness campaign and begin a Holland Marsh economic impact study.
Mayor Steve Pellegrini singled out Eek for her dedication to the industry and acting as King’s representative.



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