In the past 35 years, Ontario has lost 2.8 million acres (18%) of its farmland to non-agricultural land uses like urbanization and aggregate mining.
This is a huge problem because, as a finite and non-renewable resource, when we pave over farmland, we can never get it back.
Farmland is the foundation of our communities and our economy. Everyone in Ontario relies on agriculture in some form or another, from the food we eat to the jobs in our communities. Did you know that Ontario’s agri-food sector is the largest economic sector in the province and employs over 820,000 Ontarians (OFA, 2018)? Farmland is the foundation of this sector, so when we lose farmland these jobs are put at risk. Local food and economic resiliency depend on the protection and stewardship of our agricultural land.
But Ontario’s farmlands provide more than just resources to Ontarians. Farmlands are also whole ecosystems that many species at risk rely upon for food and shelter. In fact, farmlands such as pastures are often relied on by at-risk grassland species such as Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark (both considered provincially threatened) for nesting and foraging. So, when we lose productive farmland, we are also losing productive ecosystems.
The Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT) brings together farmers, government, and conservation partners to establish farmland easement agreements that permanently protect the agricultural, natural, and cultural features of farm properties. An easement is a voluntary agreement that the landowner and OFT enter together, that will ensure the farmland remains farmland, forever. If you would like to read more about easements, click here.
Additionally, just half of Ontario’s farmland and natural areas receive protection through provincial policies, and even so, these policies are constantly changing. This is why OFT works with the provincial government to strengthen protections for farmland in provincial policy through regular policy submissions. If you would like to read more about our policy submissions, click here.
Currently, Ontario is losing 175 acres of farmland every day (Statistics Canada, 2016). In order for future generations of Ontarians to have access to fresh, local food, Ontario’s farmland must be protected.
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/
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