Glimmering gold and other precious minerals and metals are what most people think of when it comes to Ontario's natural resources. But what many people don't know is that farming in Ontario is also a critical resource sector for families across the province and a major contributor to its economy.
Ontarian farmers work hard to bring sustainably produced agricultural products to domestic markets and those abroad. From dairy to vegetables to chickens to fruits, Ontario's agri-food sector plays an essential role in feeding Canadians and the world.
Canada's largest province (by population) benefits immensely from agriculture, with its agri-food sector supporting more than 861,000 jobs. Additionally, with manufacturing hubs located in and around major urban centres like Toronto, Ontario's agri-food industry has grown to account for roughly 30 per cent of Canada's total economic activity in this sector.
To sketch a more detailed image of just how important agriculture is to the province and country as a whole, here are more than 25 facts on farming in Ontario for you to check out. Also see:
- Farming in Canada: The Facts (22 Infographics)
- Where Does Your Turkey Dinner Come From?
- Farming in Saskatchewan: 26 Facts
- Farming in Alberta: 30 Facts
26 Facts on Farming in Ontario
#1 - As of 2021, Ontario's agri-food sector supported more than 861,000 jobs. (Government of Ontario - GoO)
#2 - Ontario's agri-food sector also generated more than $46.3 billion of economic activity for the provincial economy in 2021. (GoO)
#3 - Ontario produces a wide range of agricultural products, including (but not limited to)
- fruit crops, such as grapes, apples, berries and other tender fruits
- cash crops, such as soybeans, corn, mixed grains, forage crops, wheat and barley
- commercial poultry, hog, dairy and beef cattle farms
- flowers and other ornamental plants
#4 - Agriculture and agri-food in Ontario account for approximately 30 per cent of the total GDP generated by the sector throughout Canada. (Ontario Genomics)
#5 - From 2016 to 2020, the top three crop and livestock commodities by average farm cash receipts in Ontario included (Government of Canada):
- dairy ($2.1 billion)
- vegetables ($1.9 billion)
- soybeans ($1.7 billion)
#6 - There are roughly 3,500 family-run dairy farms found across the province of Ontario. (Dairy Farmers of Ontario)
#7 - Ontario is home to more than half of the highest quality farmland in Canada known as "class one" farmland. (GoO)
#8 - Ontario farmers grow more than 200 different commodities on 49,600 farms across the province. (GoO)
#9 - Over 125 different fruit and vegetable crops are grown on 245,000 acres of farmland across Ontario. (Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association)
#10 - In 2021, 65 per cent of the food produced in Ontario was consumed within the province. (GoO)
#11 - Ontario is Canada's largest producer, processor, and consumer of chicken. (Chicken Farmers of Ontario)
#12 - Approximately 1,100 of Canada's 2,800 dedicated chicken farmers live in Ontario, producing more than 200 million chickens every year and 325 million kilograms of chicken meat annually. (Poultry Industry Council)
#13 - As of 2020, the Ontario agriculture industry produced 45 per cent of Canada's turkeys -- so make sure to think of them when you have Thanksgiving dinner! (Statistics Canada)
#14 - In 2020, half of Canada's mushroom production was thanks to farmers in Ontario. (Statistics Canada)
#15 - As of 2021, there were 1,064 pork-producing farms in Ontario supplying both domestic and international markets with a wide variety of pork products. (Ontario Pork)
#16 - The Ontario cattle industry is home to more than 19,000 beef farmers. (Beef Farmers of Ontario)
#17 - Ontario's agriculture and agri-food sector is well-positioned for substantial growth. Proof can be seen through a growing population, arable land and water, and a stable and well-established market. (Ontario Genomics)
#18 - In 2020, Ontario produced 467,000 gallons of maple syrup across an estimated 391 farms, also known as sugarbushes. (Government of Canada)
#19 - Ontario farmers lead in Canadian corn production, growing 63 per cent of our nation's grain corn on average per year. (Grain Farmers of Ontario)
#20 - Ontario farms house the most sheep in Canada, with estimates showing over 267,000 in the province. (Statistics Canada)
#21 - Ontario's food and beverage manufacturing sector is the third-largest in North America. (Government of Ontario)
#22 - Ontario's greenhouse vegetable sector leads the industry within Canada, with a 37.6 per cent share of the nation's greenhouses. (Statistics Canada)
#23 - As of 2019, Ontario had the greatest number of sod farms in Canada, with 65. (Statistics Canada)
#24 - The most recent data shows that Ontario's agriculture sector has the most Christmas trees farms with 530 locations and has the third-largest production by province with 4,456 hectares. (Statistics Canada)
#25 - Ontario's agriculture industry is home to the second most beekeepers in Canada, with 2,506 as of 2019. (Statistics Canada)
#26 - Sustainable technology is readily implemented across Ontario farms, including the use of: (Ontario Genomics)
- GPS technology
- Automated steering
- Robotic milking
- Automated animal feeding
- Greenhouse automation
- Environmental controls for livestock housing
Sustainable Farming in Ontario
Ontarian farmers are known for their commitment to producing agricultural products using sustainable methods while meeting growing food demand for an increasing global population - that's a big job.
Grain Farmers of Ontario, for example, provides farmer-members with the information and resources needed to continue to produce agricultural products in a manner that meets their commitment to the environment and society.
Current sustainability initiatives include:
> Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI)
> Field to Market Canada
> 4R Nutrient Stewardship Strategy
We should all be thanking Canadian farmers like those in Ontario, Saskatchewan and elsewhere for their continued commitment to feed ourselves and the world while doing so in an environmentally sustainable manner. Now that's called world-class farming!
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