Northern Ont. eyes oilseed production

Economic development officials at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., plan to study whether the region can produce enough oilseed crops to support a processing industry.

A study led by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. (EDC) will look at developing oilseed crops such as canola and soybeans in the region, the Ontario government said in a release Wednesday.

The province said it will put up $13,750 for the EDC’s study, to flow through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

“By investing in this study, we are helping make a better-informed decision on the economic feasibility of launching new cash crops in the Algoma region,” said Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle, who also chairs the NOHFC.

The Algoma administrative district includes Sault Ste. Marie and a number of other communities at the east end of Lake Superior.

The study would also examine the potential for fibre crops such as industrial hemp, the province said.

If the study results are positive, as many as 15 new jobs could be created in the region to operate an oilseed crushing facility, to produce biodiesel fuel and to process fibre, the province added.

“This project could help strengthen and diversify farming activities in the region and ensure their long-term growth and sustainability,” Mike Brown, the local MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, said in the release.

Northern Ontario, according to the 2006 census, includes 2,479 farms, of which the Algoma district has 335. Hay is “by far” the district’s major field crop, followed by barley and oats, the province said.

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