Farmland must be protected. That is the message being put forth by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture after Don McCabe was acclaimed president of the federation for another one-year term.
“Farmland in Ontario should be recognized as a permanent feature with economic and ecosystem benefits,” McCabe says.
He and the federation are tired of seeing an uncertain future for farmland in a changing world, which anticipates local, and regional farming as the main source of fresh food as the huge factory farms become more and more unsustainable.
“If we want to support a local food economy, we need to give farmers certainty that their land is protected and valued,” according to McCabe’s post on the Federation’s website. “The current provincial land use planning rules see farmland as development land in waiting. This discourages investment in farm businesses and fails to recognize agriculture as a long term economic activity.”
Brant County area family farms are being swallowed up by large multinational real estate brokers and land bankers, primarily from representing untraceable Asian investors. However, there is an increasing frequency of money laundering through Canadian real estate because of the lax investment restrictions and source transparency in China especially.
Farmers, environmentalists and First Nations share the same concerns as thousands of acres of good fertile farmland are systematically buried under layers of asphalt and concrete in Ontario and across Canada.
A joint report from the Environmental Defense group and Ontario Federation of Agriculture states that 75 per cent of the best farmland in the greater Toronto metropolitan region is at risk of being lost to “development” by local and off-shore investors in real-estate.
McCabe believes more priority must be given to long term planning for sustaining and supporting the local farm food industry even at the cost of developers seeking instant cash.