Vibrant agri-food sector hinges on farmland preservation (2014)

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

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

For more information, contact:

Larry Davis
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture


Katherine De Simone says on June 20, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Why are massive greenhouses allowed to be built on perfectly good farmland? I believe they should be built in areas of poorer soil where we cannot grow crops.

DAVE SHARPE says on June 20, 2014 at 5:49 PM

I commend the OFA for wanting to preserve Ontario farm land . But where was the OFA when we asked for them to take a stand on wind turbines taking over prime farm land . Where are the turbines in your video. OFA would not and still has not made a stand . I suspect this is because so may of there members have signed there land away . Thousands of acres across ontario gone. This liberal government cares nothing of rural ontario or the preservation of farm land and the OFA said nothing .We are simple slaves to the GTA . My father fought for years to keep industry and housing from taking over prime lands and was successful in doing that until now thanks to this provincal gov. It really is digusting to watch the destruction thats happening out here . Very disappointed .I am now a member of the NFU.

colin elliott says on June 20, 2014 at 8:15 PM

How do you compensate the farmer next to a town who is offered big money to sell his farm for development.

Morley brown says on June 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I really disagree you own land to make money, I live on a farm all my life, and to exist in today's economy, if I. Could make more money from my land from selling lots or gravel ,I should be allowed to do so, It is. A myth that we need all this land for farming, after all my wife just brought a jar of dill pickles from India. that is the way a modern economy works! Morley Brown

Jim Hopkins says on June 22, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Our farm is located on the edge of the lowlands and Canadian Shield. There is more land be farmed in this area now than time in the past 35 years. Most is being rented by cash crop farmers.I believe there are a number of reasons why this has happened in the past and also why it is now changing. I am 75 and have lived in this location most of my life

Sandra says on June 24, 2014 at 6:39 AM

As a farmer we know that farmland is priceless. Everytime I read some publicity like that that i think urban people are not inform. All of that information should be in all journal so people get to know how farm land is important. And then maybe then some will stop criticzing us . They might start seeing us differently .

Bob Almack says on June 26, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Congratulations on Larry Davis' article urging food land protection. He is correct in saying that Ontario's growth and prosperity are dependent on food land . Protecting farmland ought to appeal to small "c" conservatives because destroying it requires massive taxpayer subsidies and ever increasing property taxes. May I suggest that the 14 000 acres of class 1 farmland owned by Canadians in north Pickering be turned into a permanent agricultural preserve. Long term leases be given to our young agriculture college and university grads. A farmers market similar to St Jacobs would serve the GTA. Taxpayers can I'll afford another Mirabel airport.

Tara McGee says on June 28, 2014 at 10:32 PM

I am saddened and concerned about the rapid loss of farmland both in my community of Creemore and around the GTA. I strongly support the protection of these lands. When will we learn that money cannot be eaten!

Karl Braeker says on July 4, 2014 at 7:11 AM

In the late eighties we fought Charlie Watson's plan for an "Industrial Park" half way between Mount Forest and Durham in Grey County on CLI 1 and 2 land, as well as prime aggregate area . We sent a delegation of farmers to see Agriculture Minister Jack Ridell (Liberal) and sought his backing to oppose this plan to pave over hundreds of acres. We got his full support. He was fired by Premier Petersen a short while later, and instead of opposing the developer, the Minidstry supported him. We fought the proposal at the Municipal Board , but Watsons proposal was approved with conditions. It was these conditions that have prevewnted the proposal to succeed . Conditions : Minimum 10 acre lots. Public hearings BEFORE a company set up operations. Mr. Watson's office building to manage the development is STILL the only development on the place. It can be seen on the west side of Hwy 6 . As a group of local farmers, we fought this proposal without OFA support. Ken Kelly was Vice Pres. and I met with him about OFA Land Use Policy. There was none. Subsequently I was elected OFA Regional Director for Grey South. Was totally unsuccessful to get OFA to see the need to protect farmland. I am happy to see, twenty years later, that there seems to be a change of direction. I have not seen very much in the line of farm land preservation since our fight in the eighties. The need is URGENT, as pointed out by the efforts of "Food and Water First" group. I am not convinced that the influence of well heeled developers has waned. But hope springs eternal. We have to succeed for our coming generation's sake.

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