Bill Mauro stands with Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ted McMeekin visit the Founder’s Museum on July 5, 2012.
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A local farmer hopes he’s been able to plant a seed into the mind of the Minister Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to bring in a younger generation into farming.
Ontario’s Agricultural Minister Ted McMeekin visited a number of local farmers and facilities while he was in Thunder Bay Thursday. McMeekin also hosted a meet and greet with local farmers at the Founder’s Museum.
McMeekin said he was asked to come to the city by fellow MPP Bill Mauro (Lib. Thunder Bay – Atikokan).
Farmer Kevin Belluz said he wanted to talk to McMeekin about trying to promote local foods.
He believes by promoting locally grown foods not only will that keep people interested by may also help attract a younger generation into agriculture and hopes the minister will help with that.
“It’s been a very difficult go for farmers,” Belluz said. “The general pressure from consumers has been the cheapest food possible no matter where it comes from. That obviously that puts a squeeze on farmers and you have seen people leave the industry.
“Children didn’t go into farming because it wasn’t very lucrative and it was a lot of hard work. That’s something we need to change. Putting the value of food back into people’s lives is what I think needs to happen.”
He added people are more interested in where their food comes from and it’s important to keep that momentum going forward.
McMeekin said the average age of farmers in Ontario is 54.4 and there needs to be a succession plan in order to bring in younger farmers.
“Farming is almost a $40 billion industry in Ontario,” McMeekin said.
“Of all the sectors in the economy, the number one manufacturing sector is agriculture. We have to do everything we can to enhance it and to make the climate right for younger people to go into farming.”
Earlier in the day, McMeekin met with the Thunder Bay Beekeepers Association.
Beekeepers president Barry Tabor said they met with the minister in order to talk about setting up a quarantine for bees in order to protect them from mites.
He said it was great to be able to voice their concerns directly to him.
“We’re one of the few places in North America that have remained mite free,” Tabor said. “We want to maintain that status. We need cooperation with Ontario Ministry Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and inspection programs. He was very receptive and he is going to bring it back to his people and hopefully we can come up with a comprehensive policy.”
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