More than 50,000 people have signed on to show support for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s Home Grown campaign; a public awareness initiative aimed at showcasing the threat to rural lands from urban sprawl and development—the campaign supports “smart urban planning policies that encourage development within existing urban areas while preserving the farmland that provides Ontario and the world with food, fuel, fibre and flowers, according to the OFA.
“We are losing productive farmland at an alarming rate in Ontario,” says OFA president Peggy Brekveld. “The path we are currently on is not sustainable. We cannot continue to sacrifice the lands where we grow and raise our food in the name of growth. It may take some effort and creative thinking, but we can continue to develop Ontario without paving over our most precious natural resource—fertile farmland.”
According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture released earlier this year, Ontario is losing an average of 319 acres of productive farmland every day. Since 1996, Ontario has lost 1.5 million acres of productive farmland—an area roughly the size of Toronto, Peel Region, Halton Region, Waterloo Region, Hamilton and Niagara Region combined with just five per cent of Ontario’s land considered arable.
“We've seen how supply chain shocks and delays have affected the price and availability of everyday goods that our families rely on,” says Brekveld. “These same supply chain shocks and delays have resulted in the worst inflation Ontario has seen in more than three decades. We are seeing product shortages because of weather patterns in foreign countries. Far away turmoil like the war in Ukraine affects global food security. And, if nothing else, the pandemic has emphasized the importance of local production across many sectors of our economy. Farming matters. Where we grow our food matters, too. Ontario has some of the best tastes and quality in the world.”