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EDITORIALS

Ontario & Wisconsin: Stronger Together

Jeff Leal
Jeff Leal

 

The state of Wisconsin and the province of Ontario have a lot in common – we both are committed to building a strong agri-food sector that is grounded in a profound respect for the hundreds of thousands of hardworking women and men who wake up each and every day to harvest and process high-quality food for our consumers.

Ontario is a significant customer of Wisconsin, with two-way trade totalling approximately $7.9 billion CAD in 2016 - $1.6 billion CAD of that being agri-food trade. Thanks to trade agreements between our countries, Ontario exports products like vegetables and meat to Wisconsin and, in turn, Wisconsin exports products like beverages, spirits and vinegar tariff-free to Ontario. This partnership results in Wisconsin enjoying an almost $1 billion CAD agri-food trade surplus with Ontario.

Fostering this relationship in a way that helps our agri-food businesses thrive is essential to creating and maintaining good jobs in our communities, growing our economy and providing safe, quality food to consumers on both sides of the border.

That’s why on May 24 I will be travelling with members from Ontario’s agri-food industry to Madison, WI (and other key U.S. Great Lake states important to Ontario’s agri-food sector) to meet with government officials and agri-food businesses to reiterate the importance of maintaining our integrated value chain.

Many Wisconsin and Ontario agri-food businesses rely on the secure and efficient movement of food ingredients and products across the border in order to be successful. Streamlined food inspection rules and border-clearance regulations speed up cross-border shipments and allow for just-in-time deliveries, which is vital for perishable food products with a short shelf life.

But our integrated value chain goes much deeper: agri-food producers and companies on both sides rely on trade for access to food ingredients, packaging, equipment and consumers. For example, Ontario pigs are shipped to a U.S. processing facility to be processed into sausages. Those sausages are then shipped back to Canada for Ontario consumers to buy and enjoy.

I look forward to the productive discussions I will be having with Wisconsin government representatives and business leaders. I will continue to work to strengthen our economic relationship with Wisconsin for the mutual benefit of all of our producers, agri-food businesses and consumers.

You can follow my travels to Wisconsin by following me on Twitter at: @JeffLeal_MPP

Leal is Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister Responsible for Small Business