Ontario Federation of Agriculture
That is the average daily loss of farmland, according to data from the latest Census of Agriculture that was released last month. It is a steep climb from the 175 daily average loss that was recorded in the 2016 Census of Agriculture.
“To see a daily loss of 319 acres of farmland is a shocking jolt of reality that is simply not sustainable if we hope to have any kind of food sovereignty or independence in Ontario,” says Peggy Brekveld, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “While urban growth isn’t the only cause of farmland loss, it can’t be denied that development is putting intense pressure on Ontario farmland. Urban development is leap-frogging the Greenbelt and straining against urban-rural boundaries.”
Farmland is a finite, but diminishing resource, and the availability of prime agricultural land is fundamental to Ontario’s future. A country’s ability to feed its own population is an important pillar of a well-functioning and sustainable society.
But to do that, we need to ensure that we have land where we can grow our food, and in Ontario that space is limited. While the province is geographically large, much of the northern reaches cannot be farmed because of the Canadian Shield and climate. In the South, cities and towns cover much of the landscape. All told, only about five per cent of the province’s land is suitable for growing food or raising livestock.
Losing 319 acres of this land daily is the equivalent of losing nine family farms each week.
“What will that look like in 10, 50 or 100 years if left unchecked?” asks Brekveld. “Once this farmland is gone, it’s gone forever. We are not saying don’t build. We get the province has to accommodate growth. What we are saying is to build in the right places through long-term strategic land-use planning.”
The 319 acres per day figure was calculated based on a comparison of the total farm area in the province in the 2016 Census of Agriculture (12.4 million acres) versus the 2021 Census of Agriculture (11.7 million acres). The difference of 582,392 acres is divided by five to reach an average annual loss of 116,478.4 acres per year. Divide that by 365 days to 319.12 acres per day.
About Home Grown
A public awareness initiative of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Home Grown is a campaign to advocate for the importance of Ontario farms as a source of food, fuel and fibre. Arable farmland is the most important natural resource, but Ontario is losing an average of 175 acres of farmland to urban development every day; that is the equivalent of five family farms paved over every week. It is the objective of Home Grown to help develop a workable plan to guide responsible development in Ontario, ensuring growth to provide housing and support local tax bases while also protecting productive farmland.
Join the conversation on Twitter @OntarioFarms and Facebook /ontariofarms. For more information, please visit homegrown.ofa.on.ca.