OMAFRA Conference Information and Policy Ideas

 

Thanks for following up on the presentation; I have divided the content here into three sections-

  1. Outline of Ideas Presented- specifically thesis presented and more information on policy ideas.
  2. Links to companies, etc. referenced in the talk- please let me know if I've missed anything.
  3. Contact info & further reading- I would be delighted to hear from you.

Ideas for Ontario

Successful agri-food policy should seek to build consensus between all stakeholders in the industry.  Examples of funding opportunities that enhance these sorts of consensus-based ideas include-

  • Investing in specialty processing equipment for small batches of all kinds of meat, with an emphasis on specialty cuts and customizable work.  Larger producers can capitalize for export markets, speciality markets, and smaller producers are able to use this same infrastructure for direct-to-market businesses.
  •  Continue the work of OntarioFresh.ca by adding additional functionality to assist in creating connections in the industry, and leverage these databases to  assist in moving more of the sector online.  Leveraging simple template technology, consider investing in simple website builders for Ontario farms and agribusiness.
  • Using valerie.eu as a template, create a platform for communication between academia and government and the private sector.  Using the same technology stack (natural language processing & semantic analysis) create a databaseof thousands of techniques, articles, and recommendations, giving contextual answers and keeping relevant information accessible to farmers and processors across Ontario.
  • Using the MIT agriculture initiatives as a template, expand on the excellent base of University programs in Ontario by adding additional programming for creative endeavours in agriculture as well as R&D grants and programs. Create a dedicated incubator/accelerator program in food and ag, focusing on three verticals- CPG products with novel industrial techniques, farm analytics and precision agriculture systems, and software-as-a-service businesses focused on agri-food.
  • Leveraging the existing work by Alison Bay-Palmer and others on food hubs in Ontario, work with GFS and other industry partners in a public-private partnership to establish regional hubs and aggregators across Ontario.  Using the lessons learned by US food hub initiatives, build more regional capacity not only for transport to proximate Ontario markets but also as an aggregator for export (see Deep Roots Co-op in QC for details).
  • Encourage the development of Aquaculture in the province by working with existing players in the industry to establish a base of operations in Ontario. This industry is primed for another 5-10 years of extraordinary growth, and Ontario needs to identify novel industry opportunities in order to meet the challenge of growth targets established.
  • Establish a working group to target moon-shot programs in Agri-Food who are looking for a base of operations, specifically in the domains of cellular agriculture, precision agriculture, plant science, and protein synthesis.  If the technology has the potential to become a national or global monopoly, invest resources in bringing it to Ontario at the R&D stage.  
  • Continue to invest in programs that allow for smaller scale producers to familiarize themselves with larger production systems and tools.  Create programs that link nascent businesses in production/transformation/processing with more established players to show paths to scale and competitive viability.

Links Referenced

Quadrant Thesis in food-

Chat-bot for farmers in EU- VALERIE

Amazon GO

Cellular Agriculture

Impossible Foods

Food From Thought- Guelph

Open Agriculture Initiative- MIT

Future Food Lab- MIT/Ideo

The Engine- MIT

 

Further Reading & Contact info

 

On Social Media- @caithrin

Email- caithrin@caithrin.com

Writing- caithrin.com/blog or medium.com/@caithrin

Thank you for the opportunity to speak and looking forward to hearing from you all.

best,
Cai