OFA: Vibrant agri-food sector hinges on farmland preservation
By Larry Davis, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
For Ontario farmers – and Ontarians who rely on local food – farmland is our greatest and most important resource. But despite the vast and diverse area of land that makes up Canada’s second-largest province, less than 5% of it is suitable for food production. And once farmland is gone, it’s never coming back.
Ontario’s soils are classified based on their ability to grow crops. While there are seven classifications, Class 1 through 7 – but only Class 1 through 4 are capable of supporting crop production. Class 1 is the most productive soil and not typical of the majority of Ontario farmland. Classes 2 – 4 are less productive in descending order, but still capable of producing food, fibre and fuel.
But here’s the problem: with growing urban centres and the need for more urban development, Ontario is losing more than 350 acres of farmland every day. If this loss rate continues, Ontario farmers will be unable to meet the growing demand for food in Canada and around the world. And as a non-renewable resource, productive farm land will be lost forever.
That’s why the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is calling for the protection of Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 – the land that supports most agricultural activity. The OFA is also calling on government to protect a farmer’s ability to farm when urban expansion and aggregate extraction are occurring on or next to a farm. The OFA has made clear recommendations to the Ontario government on land conservation – including the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Greenbelt Plan. It’s all part of OFA’s farmland preservation and land use policy, as outlined at www.ofa.on.ca.
To help raise awareness about issues like farmland preservation, OFA has launched a series of online videos. OFA’s most recent video provides background information about land use issues, and explains specifically what OFA is asking of its provincial government to help preserve farmland.
As Ontario farmers, we have a significant interest in ensuring public policy does not destroy our most valuable resource. We look forward to working with the newly-elected majority Liberal government to expand the definition of prime agricultural land, and put measures in place that protect farmland. We can’t operate prosperous and sustainable farms without adequate land.
OFA has a proud history of working with like-minded organizations on research, education and policy development to further strengthen and protect Ontario farmland. Without the preservation of farmland and water resources, Ontario’s growth and sustainability is in jeopardy.
Take a few moments to view, and share, OFA’s videos – including one about farmland preservation – by clicking on the YouTube icon on OFA’s website at www.ofa.on.ca.