Despite impressive gains, agricultural literacy remains a struggle

For Immediate Release
March 5, 2015

QUEEN’S PARK – “We have to train people not only to be able to walk into a combine and know how to turn a wrench, but they also need to know how to calibrate that computer.”
That was the message Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett delivered in the Ontario Legislature this week with regard to agricultural literacy. Barrett, who is also the Opposition Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Critic, spoke on behalf of the Ontario PC caucus in support of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Week.
“We certainly know that Ontario is key within our dominion of Canada with respect to agriculture, food, agri-business. We contribute $34 billion annually, and something in the order of 740,000 jobs,” Barrett explained. “Despite these impressive numbers, agricultural literacy remains a bit of a struggle, not only across the nation but in this province as well.”
Barrett then posed some questions to his colleagues, such as the difference between hay and straw as well as jersey milk and Holstein milk, and where tofu comes from.
The local MPP feels young people lack information about the good jobs that are available, not only in farming, but in food production, processing, restaurants, and agri-business in general. As a former high school agriculture teacher, Barrett feels the industry has gone backwards in some ways as agricultural programs have morphed into environmental science.
Pointing to the advent of precision agriculture, with the use of the GPS systems for precision farming and the use of drones, Barrett questioned whether practical courses are available.
“What we’re talking about here is ever-important for our young people and obviously for the future of agriculture in the province of Ontario,” Barrett concluded.


– 30 –
For more information please contact MPP Toby Barrett at

519-428-0446, 905-765-8413 or 1-800-903-8629