The potential for future success for Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable sector is high. There are many risks associated with the potential growth rates and the direction of that growth. Navigating the complexities of all levels of government, community relationships, and access to necessary inputs like energy (i.e., electricity) and infrastructure (i.e., sanitary sewer systems) is critical to the successes ahead. The purpose of the study was to demonstrate the potential for high growth and profitability across the Ontario greenhouse vegetable sector, along with corresponding benefits to various stakeholders across the province.
The sector’s Growth and Economic Prosperity study ultimately had three major goals:
- Enhance the perception of the sector
- Create useful content for the community, government, and
- Create an industry model to shape public policy, and
facilitate justification for government investment
Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable sector represents $2.3B in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution, accounts for 81.6% of greenhouse vegetables exported out of Canada, and is a significant employer providing more than 32,000 individuals ranging in skill level employment. A regional breakdown of the province’s greenhouse operations is identified below.
This study effectively sets those biases aside and is agnostic of those elements. An Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework was developed for the sector, which is the first time in Ontario an ERM framework has been designed specifically for a segment of agriculture. The sectors’ growth contains inherent risks that impact farms differently depending on size and sophistication.
The ERM identified more than 120 risks that were categorized and correlated to a distinct factor directly influencing farm operations in both optimistic (enabler) and adverse (inhibitor) scenarios. The upside (optimistic) and downside (adverse) risk-modeled scenarios resulted in the following impacts on cash flows:
Key findings and recommendations concluded from the Growth and Economic Prosperity study include:
- Advances in technology (precision agriculture, climate control systems, LED lighting, integration of automation and
robotics) can lead to an increase in production at lower costs.
- Provides a competitive edge over traditional farming when confronting climate regulations.
- The sector plays an increasing role in food security concerns, further compounded by projected population growth in Ontario.
- Removal of government regulation leading to new costs and burdensome administration.
- Create/expand programs that provide grants, or financial incentives, to companies and start-ups that specialize in technology applicable within the Greenhouse Sector.
- Establish partnerships with research centers and alliances between academia and industry to drive policy change while supporting innovation, such as through the Canadian Greenhouse Excellence Network (CGEN).
- Adoption of a strategy to optimize utility usage with available government support incentives to support implementation.
- Consideration of greenhouse labor needs within temporary foreign worker programs and/or immigration approval processes.
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