Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network / Réseau agroalimentaire de l'Est ontarien

Policy and Government Relations

The Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network is the regional food policy council to represent and develop the agri-food sector across organizational silos, municipal boundaries, the agri-food value chain, and various agricultural commodities.

The EOAN executes this function across the regions of Prescott-Russell, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Cornwall, and the Ontario portion of the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne.

Regional food policy councils are common place across north America and surely elsewhere. Purdue University provides a good description of what a food policy council consists of and accomplishes.

A food policy council consists of community stakeholders that generally discuss current issues in the community regarding food, current needs and values, and set action-oriented goals that often involve community outreach and communication. Depending on the nature of the goals that the council develops, member activities can range from networking, to education, capacity building, local food marketing, and lobbying government officials for change. 

As a regional food policy council, the EOAN developed its mission and four pillars of activities to include food policy, government relations and regulatory affairs:

  • On the EOAN Board of directors, four seats are designated to the local municipalities: the United Counties of Prescott-Russell, the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, the City of Cornwall, and the Ontario portion of the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne.The eight remaining seats are elected by the general membership.
  • EOAN staff advised staff at the City of Cornwall as the City revamped its zoning bylaw to allow for urban micro-agriculture. 
  • EOAN staff had multiple discussions with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to understand the revamped Ontario food safety regulations that reduced the compliance requirements in inspected kitchens for low risk food production. We shared our conclusions in a newsletter to our members.
  • EOAN staff coordinated an economic development committee with municipal staff in Cornwall, PR, and SDG to survey the demand for shared inspected kitchens, also called community kitchens. 
  • The EOAN presented its programs to municipal councils in SDG and Cornwall in the winter of 2021 and secured core funding from each of them for 2021, in addition to the funding already in place from PR. The EOAN repeats the process in the winter of 2022 for funding in 2022. 
  • The EOAN presented its governance, funding strategy, and programs at the Ontario East Municipal Conference in October 2021 to share its example with other municipalities in Eastern Ontario.