Regional study launched to support local agriculture and agri-food sector

Regional partners are undertaking a significant study of the area’s agriculture and agri-food sector and are seeking participation from local businesses to help develop regional and local action plans. The partnership group includes the County of Simcoe, Grey County, Bruce County, City of Barrie, City of Orillia, Georgian College and local business support agencies.

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Value Chain Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Study will consist of an analysis of the current agriculture and agri-food business climate, based on standardized interviews with local businesses. The survey results will be analyzed by independent consultants and developed into action plans for the region and each county to address identified opportunities and challenges for this vital business sector. The study is being undertaken to ensure that future support provided by the partner organizations is based on sector-specific needs and opportunities.

The group is aiming to interview up to 350 local businesses (owners/operators and/or managers) associated with the agriculture and agri-food sector, including farmers, agri-food processors, distributors, nurseries, food retailers, restauranteurs and agri-support businesses (i.e., tractor dealerships or grain elevators).

 To participate or to learn more, contact the County of Simcoe economic development office at 705-726-9300 ext. 1206 or e-mail edo@simcoe.ca.

Interviews are being conducted until Aug. 31. As the action plans will only be as strong as the input received, the group encourages as many businesses as possible from this sector to take part in the study.

Since 2014, many of the regional partners have been supporting the agri-food sector by providing training and networking opportunities. Those opportunities have included the food entrepreneurship speakers’ series, food labeling workshops, food safety regulatory training, business-to-retail networking events and more.

Local funding for the program is being provided by the County of Simcoe, Grey County, Bruce County, the City of Barrie, the City of Orillia, Georgian College, Nottawasaga Futures Community Development Corporation and South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre.

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