Photo credit: Robyn Brady.

Ontario’s agriculture minister is preaching the gospel of farm.

Today is Agriculture Day in Canada, and Ernie Hardeman wants to try to attract more young people to the industry.

“Because so many people are not attached to our agriculture community in their growing years, it’s collectively our job in the industry to make sure everybody understand the opportunities, great futures for young people coming into the agriculture industry,” Hardeman says. “That’s not just back-breaking work of harvest, there is all kinds of opportunities in the agriculture industry.”

Chatham-Kent is home to a $4-billion dollar agriculture and agri-food industry, responsible for more than 16,000 jobs. Hardeman says the sector has grown by leaps and bounds over just the last generation or two.

“It’s not the farmers and the pitchforks that are so important, it’s a very mechanized industry and there is need for all kinds of highly skilled people to keep our food chain and our producers going.”

Over 70 different crops are grown in Chatham-Kent on more than 2000 farms and 370 acres of greenhouses.