This past Saturday, the Ontario Farmland Trust was invited to participate in a forum in Northumberland County on the importance of farmland protection. 

Speakers included Eric Gillespie of EKG Corporation; Paul Burnham, Director of the Northumberland Federation of Agriculture; Mandy Martin, Warden of the County of Northumberland; Stephanie Bowman, MPP and Ontario Liberal Caucus Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; and our own Margaret Walton, Chair of OFT’s Board of Directors. 

Margaret Walton spoke on the value of our agricultural land, for both food security, our economy, and wildlife:

“We need to rethink how we manage growth. 

We need to permanently protect our unique productive land base. 

We need to create the circumstances under which farmers can operate securely and profitably with certainty that there is a long-term future for them on the land. 

We need to recognize that agricultural land is a limited non-renewable resource. 

We need to appreciate not just the benefit of the current safe and accessible local food supply but the obligation we have to future generations to protect the resource that sustains it.”

Chaired by Allan Carruthers of the Northumberland Federation of Agriculture, discussion centered on concerns around local development in Northumberland County, recent Ontario policy weakening farmland protections, and how as citizens we can get involved, including by requesting meetings with your local representatives and submitting comments to the government.

You can submit comments to the Environmental Registry of Ontario on the proposed Provincial Planning Statement until August 4th. See OFT’s link to the ERO submission page here [1], where you will find pre-written letters that can be used to outline three of the most pressing issues, and detailed instructions on how to comment.

Thank you to the Northumberland Rural Coalition for organizing such an engaging day. We look forward to many more discussions on farmland preservation in the months to come.