Green Party challenges Liberals to support Niagara region farmers and food processors

For Immediate ReleaseJanuary 31, 2014
Green Party challenges Liberals to support Niagara region farmers and food processors

Niagara-on-the-Lake – Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner and local candidate Clarke Bitter challenged the Liberal government to double down to support the local food industry in the same way that they acted to support the auto sector.
“The Liberals have failed to act while Ontario food processors close shop and eliminate good local jobs. The Niagara region is well poised to be a leader in local food processing. Look at the positive impact of businesses like Konzelmann Estate Winery in creating jobs in the region,” said Schreiner. “But Niagara won’t capitalize on these opportunities if the Liberals continue to watch food processing plants like CanGro and Heinz close shop, eliminate jobs, and hurt our economy.”
“Local sustainable food systems need local food processing facilities,” adds Bitter. “Local food processors support local farms and add value to farmer’s crops. The Premier and candidate Joyce Morocco need to stand up for sustainable jobs in Niagara.” 
The Green Party, along with over 850 Ontarians, are calling on the government to create a Local Food Processing Fund of grants and loans to support Ontario businesses to invest in and operate local food processing facilities. 
Ontario’s food processing sector is a $39.4 billion industry that directly employs 125,000 people and buys 65% of its inputs from Ontario farmers.
Studies estimate that the closure of six fruit and vegetable canning plants in the past six years has cost Ontario 30,000 on-farm jobs and 8,700 food processing jobs. This loss of local food processing infrastructure hurts farmers who need access to markets, consumers who want to eat healthy local food and the families and communities that depend on these jobs.
“Support for local food processing is not only about securing jobs, it’s also about investing in the economy we want,” says Schreiner. “I would rather see the province supporting local food than handing over billions of dollars to a private company to help with refurbishing nuclear plants, or worse, spending a billion dollars to move gas plants.”
Amy Watson
Cell: 647-891-2984