Northern College is teaming up with Ottawa-based Algonquin College to offer a two-year agriculture business program.

Northern president Audrey Penner told a virtual signing ceremony that agriculture isn’t traditionally thought of when Northern Ontario is mentioned.

“The reality is it is a growing industry and burgeoning at the same time,” she noted. “This has massive potential for success, a new frontier of sorts for those looking to build a life for themselves here.”

Penner noted that the northern clay belt covers the entire region in which Northern College has campuses. However, while the north is opening up to farming, the population is declining.

“Conversations surrounding agricultural potential stand to play a role in maintaining if not increasing the population in our region,” the college president remarked

The skilled worker shortage in other industries also affects farming.  A recent survey of agricultural enterprises discovered that two-thirds of the 123 respondents have difficulty finding skilled staff and managers.