Ontario Independent

Saturday, December 9, 2023

In the midst of urban development, Ontario is rapidly losing agriculture

Despite urban development, Ontario is rapidly losing farmland.

Key Takeaways:

  • As per the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the province’s rate of agricultural loss is increasing as urban sprawl takes land that was previously used for farming.
  • “What we are encouraging is to create in the correct places via long-term strategic land-use planning,” Peggy Brekveld said in a statement.

As per the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the pace of farmland loss in the province is increasing as urban sprawl consumes land previously utilized for farming.

On Saturday, a farmer-led group urged municipal governments and the province to better protect agriculture and food production while building new constructions to help alleviate the housing problem.

According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture, Ontario is losing 319 acres of farm per day, equivalent to one ordinary family farm.

This was a significant increase from the previous census in 2016, when the province’s pace of farmland loss was 175 acres per day. Only 5% of the total land mass in Ontario is suitable for farming.

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Mark Reusser, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, remarked, “Most farmers would agree that’s quite simply not sustainable.”

He fears that if Ontario continues to lose farmable land to urban growth and new housing developments, it will have to rely on other nations for food, making it more vulnerable to global supply chain disruptions.

COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, according to Reusser, who produces turkeys on a farm near Kitchener, Ont., have demonstrated how easily supply lines may be disrupted, emphasizing the significance of independent Canadian food production.

“We’ll have to import 1/8food 3/8 from somewhere else if we can’t grow it here.” Do we want to rely on others for our food as a society?”

Greg Fentie, who operates a dairy farm north of Springfield, Ont., believes that each acre of farmland in the province is directly proportional to the amount of food available to Ontarians.

With less farmland, fewer loaves of bread and bags of Doritos could be on store shelves.

Despite urban development, Ontario is rapidly losing farmland.
Despite urban development, Ontario is rapidly losing farmland. Image from Times News Express

“I’m not an urban planner; I’m a farmer…

“But I’ve got to believe there’s an opportunity for infill and vertical growth in cities,” Fentie said.

“Not everyone requires a subdivision home.”

Peggy Brekveld, president of the OFA, said the organization acknowledges the province’s need for expansion and isn’t asking for development to be halted.

In a statement, Brekveld stated, “What we are urging is to construct in the correct places via long-term strategic land-use planning.”

According to Reusser, Ontario has a “fairly decent” planning history and procedure. Still, Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) allow the government to speed development and use land anywhere in the province to circumvent farmland protection processes.

According to Reusser, the OFA would like to see the government employ MZOs “extremely sparingly, only when essential, and, most of the time, within the urban envelope rather than in the countryside.”

Farmland is finite, but he continued that it may be a never-ending source of food when properly managed.

“Indigenous peoples have been growing corn, beans, and squash on Ontario soils for over 1,000 years.”

Source: Global news

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