I believe it. Look around at almost any Ontario community, especially now that the growing season is in full swing and the line between farmland and development is clearer.
Recognition is growing that farmland is essential to the future of feeding a hungry world in the eyes of the general public, says the province's other major general farm group, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.
Yet sprawl is everywhere. Overall, society has yet to connect the dots when it comes to food production and farmland availability. If it had, we'd see more of a backlash against the kind of farmland disappearance that continues everywhere.
It's said only about five per cent of Ontario land is suitable for agriculture … and for the most part, that's the same land being paved over and used for housing, malls and other uses not related to food production. When it's used for development, it's unlikely it will ever be used for growing food again.
But all's not lost. The Christian farmers' federation thinks there's hope for farmland preservation — and maybe even what it calls "positive gains"— with the new government.
Here's why. In the Liberals' election campaign, a program called Farms Forever was proposed. Basically, it would lessen farmland loss through agricultural easements. The Ontario Farmland Trust explains that through the program, willing farmers would receive tax advantages or other incentives to protect their farms with easements that would prevent future non-agricultural developments on the land, such as housing subdivisions and aggregate pits.
The Liberals are planning to expand the outer boundary of the Greenbelt — about 800,000 hectares of protected land that largely encompasses an area from Peterborough around the western end of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls — a move some say will hurt farmers. This restricts the use of the land along with reducing its value. How will this affect you?