Strategic Directions for Agricultural Development in Northeastern Ontario


Dr. W.J. Caldwell, Professor,
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
University of Guelph


Eric Marr

funded by

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
through the University of Guelph Partnership agreement


Northeast Community Network (NeCN)

executive summary
Cochrane District in Northeastern Ontario has a long history of agriculture which continues to have an important presence in the area. However, this sector faces several obstacles, such as aging farm operators with limited succession planning. Therefore, action must be taken in order to ensure the sustainability of current farming operations as well as take advantage of the vast agricultural opportunities present in the area. With this in mind, this study undertook to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats inherent for agriculture in this part of Cochrane District as well as present strategic actions which could be undertaken in order to expand agriculture in the area.

In order to achieve this goal, several research methods were utilized, such as reviewing existing literature and data along with interviews undertaken in the region. Through this work it was identified that the southern part of Cochrane District has soil classifications and climate appropriate for several agricultural products and that obstacles tend to lie in socio-economic factors rather than agroclimatic considerations. While the climate of the area is not ideal for all crops and farming practices utilized in southern Ontario, it was identified that the right selection of crop varieties and adapted farming practices improved the feasibility of a range of products with satisfactory yields.

The final intention of this research was the creation of a range of strategic actions which may be undertaken in order to expand agriculture in the area. These actions were created based on interview findings, NeCN Agriculture Steering Committee feedback, and other research. The listing of actions include such ideas as increasing sales of local products; promotion of products and opportunities outside of the area; increased funding for infrastructure; expansion and better use of local capacity; more consideration and recognition from higher levels of government; facilitate linkages between stakeholders and potential markets; and explore unconventional agricultural opportunities. These 23 actions provide, in some detail, ideas that may be pursued in order to create a vibrant agricultural community in this area of Cochrane District with a range of scales and agricultural models.

The following comprises the first of two reports that make up this study. Report 1 presents background on the NeCN catchment area as well as the results of the fieldwork presented in the form of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. The Appendices of Report 1 also presents a range of technical information relating to the area. Report 2 contains the Actions which have been developed which may help expand agriculture in the area with specific Implementation Strategies being presented in the Report 2 Appendix.