Ontario Agriculture Week – Spotlight on Grand Erie

Ontario Agriculture Week – Spotlight on Grand Erie

It’s Ontario Agriculture Week from October 3rd to the 9th and there is plenty to celebrate about this important sector! The week is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and our connection to where our food comes from – so let’s raise a fork to the food we love and the people who produce it! 

The agriculture and agri-food sector is a major contributor to the Canadian economy comprised of primary agriculture (farmers) and food and beverage processing, and also includes foodservice providers, as well as food retailers and wholesalers who are the link between food production and consumers. 

In 2021, the whole agriculture and agri-food system employed 2.1 million people, provided 1 in 9 jobs in Canada, and generated $134.9 billion (around 6.8%) of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that, primary agriculture carried out by farmers and which is defined as work performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse, accounted for 241,500 jobs in Canada and $31.9 billion in GDP across 189,874 farms. 

Agriculture in the Grand Erie region…

There are 3564 agri-food businesses in Grand Erie region. Agriculture, combined with forestry, fishing and hunting, is the 2nd biggest industry in the Grand Erie region.

Grand Erie top 3 Agriculture subsectors are as follows:

  1. Crop production – 1844 businesses
  2. Animal production and aquaculture – 599 businesses
  3. Food service and drinking places – 502 businesses

The 2021 Census showed there were 3735 farm operators (down from 4,030 in 2016) in the Grand Erie region operating 2620 farms (down from 2860 in 2016). Around 40% of farms are under 70 acres, 47% are between 70 and 399 acres, 8% are between 400 and 759 acres and 6% are over 760 acres. Based on 894 farms that reported on number of employees, a total of 10,727 individuals were employed including temporary foreign workers.

Largely comprised of rural communities, the Grand Erie region has a diverse agricultural industry and its farms make up 5.42% of all farms across Ontario. Primary agriculture which relates directly to farming, includes crops, livestock, greenhouses and nurseries, as well as, farmer’s markets, farm equipment repair shops, wine and cider production, grain drying operations and livestock auctions is abundant in the Grand Erie region.

While the number of smaller farms shrunk between 2016 and 202, Grand Erie gained 7 large farms (2240 acres and higher) indicating that operations are merging in response to the shrinking number of farm operators.

Farms by industry group in Grand Erie:

  • Oilseed and grain – 1175 farms
  • Beef and cattle ranching and farming – 189 farms
  • Vegetable and melon farming – 188 farms
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture – 143 farms
  • Poultry and egg production – 113 farms
  • Dairy cattle and milk production – 105 farms

In 2021, Grand Erie grew over 6 million kgs of fruit, 34 million kgs of vegetables, 15 kgs of grain, and 30 million kgs of livestock products. Top fruits include apples, strawberries and pears. Top vegetables are potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onion and lettuce. Chicken, beef, eggs and dairy are top livestock products. 

County of Brant: 77% of lands in the County of Brant are considered to be prime agricultural lands. Additionally, the County of Brant is home to various businesses with on-farm diversified uses such as bakeries, seasonal tourism events related to the agricultural area (petting zoo, corn maze, ziplining, wine tasting etc.), and educational & commercial activities directly related to local farming.

Brantford: Aside from deep roots in agricultural equipment manufacturing, local farm fresh stores are popular in Brantford and operations such as Brantwood Farms have adapted to receive customers year round at their farm shops and special events.

Haldimand County: Agriculture has a long history in Haldimand County. Family farms have been a staple to the local economy for generations, specializing in crop production, animal production and aquaculture. Haldimand County invites people to visit their farmers markets to learn how important agriculture is to the local economy and appreciate networks of local food producers.

Norfolk County: Norfolk County promotes itself as Ontario’s Garden and according to the 2016 census, there were 1,860 farm operators working 1,307 farms in Norfolk County, with total land in crops of 196,403 acres. Norfolk County farmers are Canada’s leading growers of asparagus, cabbage, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, rye, squash and zucchini, strawberries, and other vegetables. Livestock makes up an important part of Norfolk County agriculture which include pigs, cattle and calves, goats, sheep and lambs and honeybee colonies. Employing the highest number of employees on its farms (7,619), Norfolk County farmers received more than $519 million in total gross farm revenue in the year prior to the 2016 census.

Six Nations of the Grand River: Corn, beans and squash are called “The Three Sisters” in Indigenous farming and were traditionally inter-planted because they thrive together – as well as providing balanced nutrition. To create community awareness surrounding Indigenous agriculture, Six Nations recently launched their “Revitalizing Our Sustenance Project” in May of 2020 during the beginning summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agri-tourism has been a growing industry across the Grand Erie region – from farm crawls to guided tours of micro-breweries, farmers markets and farm to table experiences, companies such as Ride the Bine, Red Apple Tours provide visitors and locals with tailored experiences at local agri-businesses.

Future outlook of Agriculture in Grand Erie…

According to StatCan’s Census of Agriculture data – of the 4, 030 farm operators in Grand Erie, about 55 % are 55 years or older, compared to 49% in 2011. 1,435 are between the age of 35-54 and only 375 were under the age of 35. With many agricultural workers opting to retire early, shortages of workers, including migrant workers, are creating a high demand for skilled equipment operators to support the local industry and it is increasingly important to consider how and by whom these newly vacant positions will be filled.

With the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie as one of its several partners, Conestoga College recently developed a 16 week Agricultural Equipment Operator Program. Completion of the program positions graduates to successfully enter a wide variety of agricultural operations.

Other local agricultural training institutions include the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph. At its Ridgetown Campus, obtaining an Associate Diploma in Agriculture provides individuals with the training to manage a farm, work for a global agribusiness, finance agricultural innovation, advance new crop and livestock genetics, or work in advancing agriculture technology.

Fanshawe College offers an Agri-Business Management Program at its Simcoe campus, which equips graduates with understanding business fundamentals and industry specific training in agricultural production. Students gain knowledge in how to manage each step of the supply chain from farm to table and everything in between, with new technological advances and sustainable practices.

 

 

Summer student jobs and youth resources

Summer student jobs and youth resources

Companies around the Grand Erie region are currently hiring for summer student positions. These companies include Piller’s Fine Foods, Circle Square Ranch, Maple Leaf Foods, Linde Canada and Grand River Employment and Training.

Our Grand Erie Job Board allows youth to search for summer jobs in Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations and New Credit. Currently dozens and dozens of summer student job openings are posted in the area.

Many non-profit community agencies such as Community Addictions and Mental Health Services of Haldimand and Norfolk, Habitat for Humanity, Norfolk Association for Community Living, Alzheimer Society and Lions McInnes House are currently advertising for summer students under a special government program called Canada Summer Jobs. All Canada Summer Jobs are searchable here: https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/youth

The COVID-19 Pandemic has added unique challenges for youth and their ability to find employment during the past few years. Help is available to youth who lack information about employment programs and job searching tools – and with their summer job hunt.

Educational institutions and area organization such as St. Leonard’s Community Services, Brantford-Brant Business Resource Centre (BRC), CareerLink and other regional employment service providers offer various programs and services across our region to not only help young people find a summer job; but for graduating students or for youth not in school – their first full time job and to also help those interested in learning how they can start their own business.

For example, aspiring entrepreneurs ages 15 to 29 years old can apply for the Summer Company Student Grant Program offered through Brantford-Brant Business Resource Centre to students living in the City of Brantford, County of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk Counties, and Six Nations of the Grand River.

The program lets students take the plunge into business ownership and teaches them how to problem solve, communicate effectively, and the importance of a strong work ethic. Students will also learn all aspects of running a business including how to manage their business finances, marketing and sales, customer service, building and controlling inventory and the behind the scenes work that is required to operate a successful business.

Successful applicants receive up to $1,500 to assist with start-up costs and an additional $1,500 on completion of the program.

Other Local Youth Employment Resources:

Grand Erie District School Board: Home :: Grand Erie District School Board

CareerLink: About :: Career Link

St. Leonard’s Community Services Wrap Program: Youth Employment Skills Strategy – Work Readiness and Advancement Program (WRAP) | St. Leonard’s (st-leonards.com)

Brant Skills Centre: Brant Skills Centre

G.R.E.A.T: The Student Office – GREAT (greatsn.com)

Fanshawe Community Career and Employment Services: Community Career and Employment Services (Simcoe) | Fanshawe College

City School by Mohawk: City School by Mohawk | Mohawk College

Brantford Business Resource Centre: Business Resource Centre – City of Brantford – Economic Development (advantagebrantford.ca)

First Work: First Work – Ontario’s Youth Employment Network

First Work Aspire Initiative: Home – Youth Aspire

Wilfrid Laurier University LaunchPad: LaunchPad | Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation | Students – Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca)

Wilfrid Laurier University: Career and Employment Support | Students – Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca)

Conestoga College: https://studentsuccess.conestogac.on.ca/myCareer

Six Nations Polytechnic: Careers | Six Nations Polytechnic (snpolytechnic.com)CareerLink: Job Seeker :: Career Link

Contact North: Welcome to contactnorth.ca | Contact North | contactnorth.ca

Canadian Mental Health Association Brant Haldimand Norfolk: CMHA Brant Haldimand Norfolk – Mental Health for All  

Grand Erie Jobs: https://workforceplanningboard.org/find-jobs/

Free program will train people to be welders

Free program will train people to be welders

Free welding training is being offered to give 150 people a head start to work as welders, helping meet the needs of local companies hungry for workers.

The Workforce Planning Board will provide the program through its Skills2Advance Welding training arm, in partnership with the CWB Welding Foundation. Training will be delivered by four area colleges.

The two-week-long classes start in June and will be offered regularly over the next year. Participants will be recruited from Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk counties. Residents of Hamilton, Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and Oxford County can also sign up.

Two-thirds of participants for the free welding training are expected to be women, a group that is underrepresented in the skilled trades. Only 10 per cent of welders in Grand Erie are female. There will also be opportunities for people who have a disability, youth, and other groups that are underrepresented in the trades.

Tremendous opportunity

“This is a tremendous opportunity for people to get started in the skilled trades with this high-demand occupation and start building their career,” said Danette Dalton, the planning board’s executive director. “We’re excited to work with the CWB Welding Foundation, area post-secondary schools and other community partners to give people the skills they need to succeed.”

People can find more information about the program by visiting www.skills2advance.com/welding

The CWB Welding Foundation has for years operated training programs for welders across Canada. Its Women of Steel program has trained hundreds of women since 2019, while its Mind Over Metal program has been in operation since 2014

The Women of Steel and Mind Over Metal curriculum will be delivered by instructors from Six Nations Polytechnic, Conestoga College, and Fanshawe College – Simcoe campus, using their welding shops. Mohawk College will provide training at its mobile classroom, which houses welding simulators in a truck trailer.

Minister of Labour

The one-year project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“With many tradespeople set to retire over the next decade, we need to do all we can to encourage people to consider careers in welding,” said Minister Monte McNaughton.

“Our government is proud to support this program, which will give future tradespeople, including women and people with disabilities, a head start in planning their careers, and help local employers find the workers they need to grow their business.”

It will include 30 hours of hands-on training, with the opportunity to obtain a CWB welding certification. Another 30 hours will focus on training in first aid, CPR, forklift and working at heights, and soft skills, such as problem-solving and workplace communications.

Free welding toolkit

Program participants will receive a free welding toolkit, which includes a welding helmet, and will be eligible to receive additional support to help cover other expenses, such as work boots.

When they graduate, participants will be assisted by local employment service agencies who will work with local businesses to offer on-the-job placements, which could lead to permanent positions.

“The goal is to find employment for participants, and we expect the program to be warmly received by employers,” Dalton said. “Welders are in demand, and that demand is expected to continue. We need to ensure there are new, eager workers entering the field.”

To learn more about job opportunities in welding, visit this page on Grand Erie Jobs: Welding careers

Grand Erie’s Agricultural Industry

Grand Erie’s Agricultural Industry

Canada’s Agriculture Day is on February 22nd and there is plenty to celebrate about this important sector so let’s raise a fork to the food we love and the people who produce it! Canada’s Agriculture Day is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and us all see the connection to where our food comes from.

The agriculture and agri-food sector is a major contributor to the Canadian economy comprised of primary agriculture (farmers) and food and beverage processing, and also includes foodservice providers, as well as food retailers and wholesalers who are the link between food production and consumers. The agri-food sector also influences many other sectors across the food supply-chain.

In 2020, the whole agriculture and agri-food system in Canada provided 1 in 9 jobs in Canada and generated $139.3 billion (around 7.4%) of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that, primary agriculture carried out by farmers and which is defined as work performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse, accounted for 269,300 jobs in Canada and $39.8 billion in GDP.

 Occupations in primary agriculture are vast and range from general farm workers, harvesting labourers and heavy equipment mechanics to various agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers who provide assistance and advice to farmers on all aspects of farm management, cultivation, fertilization, harvesting, soil erosion and composition, disease prevention, nutrition, crop rotation and marketing.

More information on occupations in agriculture can be found through Occupation Finder under the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie – Grand Erie Jobs

Agriculture in the Grand Erie region…

Based on June 2021 local business count data, agriculture, combined with forestry, fishing and hunting, is the 3rd top industry in the Grand Erie region.

Grand Erie top 3 Agriculture subsectors are as follows:

  1. Crop production
  2. Animal production and aquaculture
  3. Support activities for agriculture and forestry

The 2016 Census showed there were 4, 030 farm operators in the Grand Erie region operating 2860 farms. Around 43% of farms are under 70 acres, 44% are between 70 and 399 acres, 10% are between 400 and 759 acres and 3% are over 760 acres. Based on 894 farms that reported on number of employees, a total of 10,727 individuals were employed including temporary foreign workers.

Largely comprised of rural communities, the Grand Erie region has a diverse agricultural industry. Primary agriculture which relates directly to farming, includes crops, livestock, greenhouses and nurseries, as well as, farmer’s markets, farm equipment repair shops, wine and cider production, grain drying operations, & livestock auctions and is abundant in the Grand Erie region

County of Brant: 77% of lands in the County of Brant are considered to be prime agricultural lands. Additionally, the County of Brant is home to various businesses with on-farm diversified uses such as bakeries, seasonal tourism events related to the agricultural area (petting zoo, corn maze, ziplining, wine tasting etc.), and educational & commercial activities directly related to local farming.

Brantford: Aside from deep roots in agricultural equipment manufacturing, local farm fresh stores are popular in Brantford and operations such as Brantwood Farms have adapted to receive customers year round at their farm shops and special events.

Haldimand County: Agriculture has a long history in Haldimand County. Family farms have been a staple to the local economy for generations, specializing in crop production, animal production and aquaculture. Haldimand County invites people to visit their farmers markets to learn how important agriculture is to the local economy and appreciate networks of local food producers.

Norfolk County: Norfolk County promotes itself as Ontario’s Garden and according to the 2016 census, there were 1,860 farm operators working 1,307 farms in Norfolk County, with total land in crops of 196,403 acres.

Norfolk County farmers are Canada’s leading growers of asparagus, cabbage, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, rye, squash and zucchini, strawberries, and other vegetables. Livestock makes up an important part of Norfolk County agriculture which include pigs, cattle and calves, goats, sheep and lambs and honeybee colonies. Employing the highest number of employees on its farms (7,619), Norfolk County farmers received more than $519 million in total gross farm revenue in the year prior to the 2016 census.

Delivered in partnership with Venture Norfolk, and with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Norfolk County runs programs to support its vast agricultural industry. This includes the Food Venture Program – a component of the BRINC, a new Business Accelerator for Norfolk-based Entrepreneurs –  provide entrepreneurs who may be small or medium-sized farmers and food product owners, the knowledge, skills and networking opportunities to turn their recipes into retail-ready products

Six Nations of the Grand River: Corn, beans and squash are called “The Three Sisters” in Indigenous farming and were traditionally inter-planted because they thrive together – as well as providing balanced nutrition. To create community awareness surrounding Indigenous agriculture, Six Nations recently launched their “Revitalizing Our Sustenance Project” in May of 2020 during the beginning summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agri-tourism has been a growing industry across the Grand Erie region – from farm crawls to guided tours of micro-breweries, farmers markets and farm to table experiences, companies such as Ride the Bine, Red Apple Tours provide visitors and locals with tailored experiences at local agri-businesses.

Future outlook of Agriculture in Grand Erie…

According to StatCan’s Census of Agriculture data – of the 4, 030 farm operators in Grand Erie, about 55 % are 55 years or older, compared to 49% in 2011. 1,435 are between the age of 35-54 and only 375 were under the age of 35. With many agricultural workers opting to retire early, shortages of workers, including migrant workers, are creating a high demand for skilled equipment operators to support the local industry and it is increasingly important to consider how and by whom these newly vacant positions will be filled.

With the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie as one of its several partners, Conestoga College recently developed a 16 week Agricultural Equipment Operator Program. Completion of the program positions graduates to successfully enter a wide variety of agricultural operations.

Other local agricultural training institutions include the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph. At its Ridgetown Campus, obtaining an Associate Diploma in Agriculture provides individuals with the training to manage a farm, work for a global agribusiness, finance agricultural innovation, advance new crop and livestock genetics, or work in advancing agriculture technology.

Fanshawe College offers an Agri-Business Management Program at its Simcoe campus, which equips graduates with understanding business fundamentals and industry specific training in agricultural production. Students gain knowledge in how to manage each step of the supply chain from farm to table and everything in between, with new technological advances and sustainable practices.

 

 

New online info guide launched for area

New online info guide launched for area

A new online information guide makes it easier for residents to find local workforce-related resources and services.

The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie has added the Workforce Gateway tool to the large group of tools it already provides local job seekers and businesses.

Residents in Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk counties can find services by answering several questions related to job hunting, running a business, boosting education and skills, or about community services.

Once someone narrows their search, the new online info guide will show them a list of local services and resources they can connect with.

“The Workforce Gateway connects people and businesses to a wealth of information and hundreds of services, all housed in one place,” said Danette Dalton, the board’s executive director. “We have tremendous services and supports in our communities, but it isn’t always easy to find out about them.”

Dalton said people looking for jobs or to build their skills could tap into numerous community services, such as talking to an employment counsellor, improving computer skills, writing resumes, learning about apprenticeships, finding daycares, renewing a driver’s license and getting a criminal reference check.

“One of our Government’s top priorities is to address the skilled worker shortage and labour force issues in general,” said Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma. “To see the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie centralize a place where job-seekers, entrepreneurs, educators and community services interact in one easy to navigate portal is a huge stride to achieving our common goals.”

The new online info guide also helps inform businesses about topics such as recruiting employees, government financial support programs, networking, employment standards regulations and more.

“The Gateway complements our existing Grand Erie Jobs online tools and adds more ways for business owners to find the information and services they can use to grow,” Dalton said.

Grand Erie Jobs features 8 different online tools, including the area’s most comprehensive job board and a Job Map that shows the location of job openings and community services.

 

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