CANADA - A new five-point strategy to support the long-term growth of Manitoba's food industry, including smaller scale farmers and processors, was announced this week by Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn.
"Our goal is for Manitoba to have a food-processing industry worth C$5.5 billion by 2022," said Minister Kostyshyn.
"To achieve this, we must identify and take advantage of opportunities for large- and small-scale farmers and processors throughout the province."
The strategy includes:
- growing and retaining food businesses, by finalising a food-processing strategy to reach Manitoba's C$5.5-billion processing industry goal, working with existing businesses to accelerate their growth and creating online resources and tools to support food businesses;
- investing in sector development, in partnership with industry and stakeholders, by focusing on areas with economic growth and job opportunities, such as functional foods;
- supporting small-scale farming and processing by reallocating existing staff resources to create a small-scale processing specialist and a small-farm production specialist, while also implementing the recommendations of the Small Scale Food Manitoba working group;
- developing innovative food safety models, through outcome-based regulations that protect food safety and consumers without creating unnecessary barriers for all sizes of food processors; and
- increasing awareness of food production in Manitoba, through existing initiatives like the Local Sustainable Food Pilot Project and new investments that support industry-led activities.
The report of the Small Scale Food Manitoba working group, chaired by Dr Wayne Lees, was also released this week.
It makes 21 recommendations to improve this growing section of the food economy, based on consultations with the public, farmers, processors and many other stakeholders, the minister noted.
"I would like to thank Dr Lees and the members of the Small Scale Food Manitoba working group for this comprehensive report," said Minister Kostyshyn.
"Manitoba has accepted all of the recommendations and will be working with our partners to move this important part of our agricultural economy forward."
A copy of the Small Scale Food Manitoba report is available online.
"We heard from hundreds of Manitobans during our consultations and it is clear that the small-scale food sector wants to play an important role in promoting healthy eating while also building a vibrant food economy," said Dr Lees.
"It is with great optimism that the Small Scale Food Manitoba working group looks to the future of small-scale, specialty and artisanal food production and processing in our province."
Minister Kostyshyn noted the proposed farm and food awareness act, introduced in December 2014, would support the goals of the strategy by encouraging Manitoba's farm and food economy, increasing awareness and availability of Manitoba foods, and developing new market opportunities locally and around the world.
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