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New Local Food Act supports good things grown in Ontario

foodOntario is moving forward to help promote the good things that are grown, harvested and processed in Ontario with today’s passage of the Local Food Act, 2013.

The new legislation is part of a strategy to build Ontario’s economy by making more local food available in markets, schools, cafeterias, grocery stores and restaurants. This will create jobs and expand the province’s agri-food sector.

The new legislation – the first of its kind in Canada – is to increase local food awareness, and boost sales by setting local food goals and targets in consultation with sector partners. The act will also create a non-refundable tax credit of 25 per cent for farmers who donate their surplus harvest to eligible community food programs such as food banks, and proclaim a Local Food Week that will take place annually, beginning the first Monday in June.

“The Local Food Act will benefit people by making the connection between buying local and helping grow an important Ontario industry,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Agriculture and Food, in a statement. “If we increase demand to homegrown food, we will create jobs and boost the agri-food sector’s contributions to our economy. It’s an important and historic step forward and I thank everyone who helped support this legislation.”

The Local Food Act will also require the government to produce an annual local food report on its activities to support local food.
The province’s agri-food sector contributes approximately $34 billion to the economy and supports more than 740,000 jobs across Ontario.
The province’s farmers produce more than 200 commodities, including fruits, vegetables, livestock, dairy, poultry, grains and oilseeds. Food processors in Ontario purchase about two-thirds of the food that is produced on the province’s farms.
Ontario’s Local Food Fund is part of a $30 million investment from the province to create jobs and support innovative local food projects over the next three years.

“The Local Food Act will serve as a constant reminder of the bounty of Ontario,” said Mark Wales, of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is happy to see that it will target food literacy, local food use and will help farmers attend to the needs of others through a community food donation tax credit.”

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