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Agriculture & Agri-Food

The $4 billion dollar agriculture and agri-food industries in Chatham-Kent are modern, highly complex and internationally competitive. Our companies are continuously responding to changing consumer demands, advancing technology and globalization. Thanks to the unique combination of rich soil, freshwater, warm Canadian climate, brilliant research and the simple desire to be the best, Chatham-Kent is a key location not only for agricultural companies but also for food processing.

"We Grow for the World" is not just a tagline. Chatham-Kent literally leads the world in the production of over 70 crop varieties, from fruits to vegetables to plants and grains.

Agribusiness is big business in Chatham-Kent:

  • We are the #1 producer in Canada of Brussels sprouts, black tobacco, cucumbers, pumpkins, seed corn and tomatoes.
  • We are the #2 producer in Canada of sugar beets.
  • We are the #1 producer in Ontario of green peas, quail and field peppers.
  • We are the #2 producer in Ontario of asparagus.
  • We have the world's largest freshwater commercial fishing port (Wheatley).
  • We grow over 70 different crops.
  • We are 90% rural by area, but only 30% of the population of 104,000 live in rural areas.
  • Soybeans, corn and wheat are the three major crops in Chatham-Kent in terms of acreage.
  • Agriculture is responsible for over 16,000 jobs in Chatham-Kent.
  • Each farmer in Chatham-Kent produces enough to feed 120 people.
  • There are over 2,000 farms, which account for 4% of Ontario's total farms.
  • Greenhouses in Chatham-Kent now account for 370 acres or about 9% of Ontario's total greenhouse area.
  • We are home to the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, a vital and growing research centre for our agriculture sector.

Innovation Redefining Greenhouse Industry

With over 370 acres of greenhouse currently operating in Chatham-Kent, our growers lead the way in finding opportunities to reduce operating costs and increase yields. In Chatham-Kent, it's about relationships and developing partnerships for new possibilities. A collaboration between Truly Green (tomato producer) and GreenField Global will see a "first of its kind in North America" solution. Truly Green will use surplus heat and carbon dioxide from the GreenField facility. Eventually Truly Green will be a 90-acre complex with over 200 employees and through this new collaboration will establish their facility with a "Negative Carbon Footprint" – Truly Green!

Chatham-Kent Economic Development is working with Federal, Provincial, and industry partners to develop a sustainable growth plan with ideal infrastructure planned upfront to meet the needs of the future.

Sport and Commercial Fishing Industry

Here in Chatham-Kent, we have an amazing sports fishing sector, but we also have a huge commercial fishing sector. Wheatley is the largest freshwater commercial fishing port in the world. The head office of the Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association (OCFA) is located in Blenheim, representing an industry that has been a part of our history, culture and economy for a very long time. The OCFA interacts with many government and non-government organizations with the purpose of ensuring resource sustainability and sound fisheries science are the keys to the long-term success of the commercial fishing industry in Ontario.

Over 80% of commercial fishing in Ontario occurs in Lake Erie, which is the warmest and most productive of the Great Lakes. Perch, yellow pickerel (walleye) and whitefish account for the majority of the fish caught and represent 84% of the commercial fish landings.

The economic impacts of Lake Erie's commercial fishing sector are significant. The fishing sector on Lake Erie accounts for over 700 direct and indirect jobs with a GDP of over $244 million. The Lake Erie fish processing sector accounts for close to 800 direct and indirect jobs, with an economic impact of over $194 million. Ontario has a superb worldwide reputation as a purveyor of the very finest quality freshwater fish. In fact, 90% of the catch from Ontario's commercial fishery is exported to the United States and Europe.