Halton Region’s first Agricultural Forum a success

Halton Region is home to an active and vibrant farming industry.  As part of our support for this key sector, on Thursday, March 29, 2012, Halton Region hosted its first Agricultural Forum at Country Heritage Park in Milton, which brought together members of the farming community, councillors and industry experts to network with peers and share best practices.

Ron Reinholt (R.P.F., P. Ag), Regional Forester at Halton Region, spoke about the Halton Regional Tree Bylaw and Forestry Stewardship. Ron told us that within Halton, 52 per cent of land areas are protected from urban development and more than 10,000 acres of forested or conservation sites are publicly owned. He explained the key concepts in the Greenlands System, an interconnected system of natural areas and open spaces, and provided an overview of the Tree Bylaw, including permits required.  Ron also encouraged attendees to take advantage of a grant program available to landowners for tree planting, the Woodlands Stewardship Program.

Next up was Jake Debruyn (P. Eng), New Technology Integration – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). In partnership with other public and private sector partners, OMAFRA supports the implementation of energy generation and energy conservation technologies in the farming, food and rural sectors. Jake spoke about a number of exciting developments in energy production. For example, the ministry is currently conducting an analysis of the feasibility of a commercial agricultural biomass industry for the production of combustion energy. A number of farms are working with the ministry and others to explore the feasibility of the installation of biogas systems, a process where organic materials break down in an oxygen-free environment and can be used for clean energy.  Jake also gave an update on other green energy options such as solar and wind systems.

Martin Gooch (M. Agribus, PhD Candidate), Director – Value Chain Management Centre, talked about Value Chain Management and Innovation.  Noting that consumers, technology, globalization and environmental influences impact every agri-business. Martin explained that the rules are changing and new businesses are emerging.  He gave some interesting examples of organizations using value chain management principles such as the Little Potato Company, Pride Pack, Blade Farming and SeVita International.

Overall, the session was a wonderful opportunity for members of the agriculture community to learn from our guest speakers and from each other, for staff and elected officials to listen and learn about issues important to our agriculture community and to introduce Halton Region’s Agricultural Liaison Officer, Dan Breckon, who put the day together.

A healthy agriculture sector is vital to a healthy and sustainable Halton. This sector has great potential for sustainable growth over the next 10 years and beyond.  We will continue to work in partnership with the agriculture community to ensure Halton remains a great place to live, farm, raise a family and retire.

To learn more about agriculture in Halton, visit www.halton.ca/farm, dial 311, 905-825-6000, ext. 7929, toll free 1-866-442-5866, or TTY 905-827-9833.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”