Did you know that Ontario’s agri-food sector is the largest economic sector in the province and employs over 820,000 Ontarians1? Farmland is the foundation of this sector, so when we lose farmland these jobs are put at risk. Additionally, our ability to access fresh, local food is impacted both for us now, and for future generations of Ontarians. Our future depends on the protection and stewardship of our agricultural land.

Still, every day Ontario loses 175 acres of farmland to non-agricultural land uses like urbanization and aggregate mining2.

This is a huge problem because, as a finite and non-renewable resource, when we pave over farmland, we can never get it back.

As Ontario’s population grows, the pressure to develop more farmlands also grows. We need to ensure that Ontario’s land use planning policies can effectively protect farmland in the face of these rising development pressures, so that future generations of Ontarians can always rely on it for fresh, local food.

That is why OFT holds an annual Farmland Forum! The Farmland Forum brings together government, planners, policy specialists, researchers, conservationists, and farmers, and members of the public to explore opportunities for farmland protection in land use planning policy. This year, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are hosting the Farmland Forum virtually! The event will take place from 8:45 AM – 1 PM, on Thursday, March 25th, 2021.

The theme of the 2021 Farmland Forum is ‘The Shifting Landscapes of Farmland Protection’, which will look at how the agricultural industry is changing and how farmland policy is adapting. Our first keynote speaker, Kevin Eby, will be talking about how different municipal population forecast figures will affect urban land needs and municipal planning. Our second keynote speaker, Victor Doyle, will speak about land use planning policy frameworks, their relationship with land protection, and their effects on the agricultural sector. In addition to our keynote speakers, we will also have two panel discussions take place. These will explore the provincial Agricultural System and the opportunities for farmland protection within it, as well as how agriculture in Ontario is evolving and how land-use planning can evolve with it.

If you are interested in the event, please visit our 2021 Farmland Forum page for tickets and to read our full program.

  1. Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). 2018. Agriculture Matters – A Guide for Municipal Councillors and Staff. Retrieved from https://ofa.on.ca/resources/guide-for-municipal-councillors-and-staff/ 
  2. Statistics Canada. 2016. Census of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3210040701&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.1063&cubeTimeFrame.startYear=2011&cubeTimeFrame.endYear=2016&referencePeriods=20110101%2C20160101