Concern about Food Supply a Global Issue

Our food system has served us well until now but land use pressures and climate change will make it harder in future.

Cyclone Debbie, which lashed the Queensland coast a week ago, has hit farmers hard in the area around Bowen – a crucial supplier of vegetables to Sydney, Melbourne and much of eastern Australia.

With the Queensland Farmers’ Federation estimating the damage at more than $100m and winter crop losses at 20%, the event looks set to affect the cost and availability of fresh food for millions of Australians. Growers are reportedly forecasting a price spike in May, when the damaged crops were scheduled to have arrived on shelves.

 

 

Fresh food for growing cities

Australia’s cities are growing rapidly, along with those of many other countries. The United Nations has predicted that, by 2050, 87% of the world’s population will live in cities. This urban expansion is putting ever more pressure on peri-urban food bowls.

Food production is also under pressure from climate change, raising the risk of future food shocks and price spikes after disasters such as cyclones. Meanwhile, the desire for semi-rural lifestyles is also conflicting with the use of land for farming (see Sydney’s Food Futures and Foodprint Melbourne for more).

These pressures mean that Australia’s cities need to make their food systems more resilient, so that they can withstand food shocks more easily and recover more quickly.

Read full story.

 

Who should own Canadian farmland? And how can we best protect it?

On February 9, 2017, Bonnefield (who purchased proposed mega-quarry land from The Highland Companies) appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture & Forestry.  The Committee is undertaking a "Study on the acquisition of farmland in Canada and its potential impact on the farming sector"

Exerpts of the presentation:

So our prime reason for meeting with you today is to ask this Committee to advocate for responsible, evidence-based regulations that protect our farmland, while ensuring that farmers have ample access to the capital they need to operate their businesses profitably – including institutional capital.

I would now like to turn to five key points we would like the Senate Committee to consider in its ongoing study.

POINT 1: Farmers, not investors, determine the price of farmland in Canada.

POINT 2: Recent increases in Farmland prices across Canada have, with very few exceptions, been driven by increases in farm profits and are in line with increased profit levels.

POINT 3: Farming is a capital-intensive business, and Canadian farmers need access to a broad range of capital sources – including institutional investors - to finance their businesses and to remain internationally competitive.

POINT 4: The biggest threat to Canadian farmland is not who owns it. The biggest threats are urbanization and re-zoning and the conversion of farmland for real estate development, quarries and industrial uses.

POINT 5: Foreign ownership of farmland is not a widespread problem in Canada

My bigger concern is not who owns Canadian farmland, but who farms Canadian farmland.  We believe that Canadian farmers should farm Canadian farmland. 

Read full details.

Greenbelt Boundary - Proposed Minor Changes

Proposed Minor Changes to Greenbelt Boundary 

ontariologo

To Co-ordinated Review stakeholders from Minister Mauro

I am writing to let you know that today the government opened a public consultation on proposed minor changes to the Greenbelt's boundary, as set out in O. Reg. 59/05 and the Greenbelt Plan and is interested in hearing input on this proposal.

The proposed boundary changes are shown on these maps.

The proposed changes are based on a review of requests for boundary changes submitted since the creation of the Greenbelt, including during the almost-two-year consultation period for the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review, and a review of related technical information, as well as further information provided by municipalities, conservation authorities and land owners.

The government received over 700 site-specific requests related to the Greenbelt Plans. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs reviewed those requests that fall within the Greenbelt Plan Area and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area.

In undertaking this review, the government was guided by a number of overarching considerations, including:

  • avoiding boundary changes that would fragment farmland, including prime agricultural lands
  • maintaining a robust Natural Heritage System that can be supported despite urbanization occurring in proximity and downstream to the Greenbelt
  • respecting the functional connections in the Natural Heritage System
  • valuing the overall objectives of the Greenbelt as a landscape
  • avoiding a minimalist approach to defining the Natural Heritage System and
  • being responsive to landowner requests to evaluate site-specific situations.

Requests related to the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area were not considered as part of this exercise because those requests are subject to a separate review process led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The consultation runs from January 11 to February 27, 2017. Any boundary changes are expected to be finalized early this year as part of the completion of the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review.

Comments can be submitted at Ontario.ca/greenbelt or through the Environmental Registry. If you have any questions regarding the consultation or any of the proposed boundary changes, you can contact the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Greenbelt Site Specific Review at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you for your continued interest and engagement in the Greenbelt Plan.

Groups Band Together to Save Farmland

"We are building on our recent collaborative article in the Hamilton Spectator. This collaborative effort has been managed by Ontario Farmland Trust."

farmland-trust

The Ontario Farmland Trust along with 14 other farming and conservation organizations have joined together and called on the province to freeze all urban expansion and introduce firm, permanent municipal growth boundaries in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This urgent call is important to prevent the region’s remaining farmland from being paved over and additional farming communities from being displaced.

It’s clear that more land for urban development in the region is not needed, with an excess of 25 years’ worth of farmland already designated by municipalities to accommodate growth in both urban and rural settlement areas (Neptis Foundation, 2015). An area of prime farmland 1.5 times the size of the City of Toronto is in the process of being rapidly converted to housing subdivisions, warehouses and strip malls.

Not just home to the best farmland in Canada, the Greater Golden Horseshoe is home to one of North America’s largest agricultural and agri-food industry clusters, with a unique diversity of primary farm production, food processing, food service, food distribution and retail that represents the fastest growing employment sector in Ontario and generates $12.3 billion in annual economic activity.

The Greenbelt protects some of Ontario’s countryside, but there are hundreds of thousands of acres that continue to be at-risk and need protection now.

This call for firmer growth boundaries has been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Read the full story.

Extended deadline for Land Use comment period

ontariologo

 

mmah

 

 

16-070562

 

On May 10, 2016, Ontario released proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

Due to high interest in the review and in response to requests made by several municipalities and stakeholder organizations, we are extending the deadline for comments on the four proposed revised plans to be submitted.

The deadline to provide input on the four proposed revised plans has been extended to October 31, 2016.

We invite you to provide input on the proposed changes. They were informed by the feedback we received from Indigenous communities, the public, municipalities, stakeholders and the Advisory Panel appointed to provide recommendations on how to make the plans better.

Please visit the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review website at www.ontario.ca/landuseplanningreview to find “Shaping Land Use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe,” a guide to proposed changes to the land use plans, and the four proposed revised plans. Comments and feedback can also be submitted through our website. 

The province remains committed to making revisions to the land use plans.

We would like to sincerely thank all those who participated in the review so far. We look forward to receiving further input on how to further improve the plans and continue to strengthen and supportcommunities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Greenbelt.

Sincerely,

Bill Mauro
Minister of Municipal Affairs
17th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 2E5    

Best,

Kathryn McGarry
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Suite 6630, 6th Floor, 99 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario 
M7A 1W3