January 2016 Message from NDACT Chair

Greetings to everyone and a Happy New Year to you. Here's hoping you had some time to relax and reflect on what a wonderful region and country we live in.

In 2015 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared the International Year of Soils. That brought significant attention to the degradation and disappearance of soils around the globe. That which sustains us doesn't just produce good food, but also function as carbon sinks helping to avert climate change.

Last year also had a significant amount of activity on the issue of land use. The Aggregate Resources Act draft was finally completed and open for public comments until Dec 15. This is the key legislation that we have been lobbying to change for years. Remember that it was the Mega Quarry issue that triggered a review of the ARA. We sent notices out to all supporters that this was a key opportunity to speak up. There were improvements in the draft in the form of increased requirements for studies, however it fell short of the protections we have been asking for all along. NDACT responded with a detailed analysis, and also provided a template version for all of us to submit comments. We remained firm in our ask for total protection for class 1 farmland and no extraction below the water table. We posted and shared our draft with supporters and partner organizations and the support was tremendous. Many organizations weighed in with their own comments and drafts. There will be no further public inputs for this document, so we await the final outcome. That alone will make for an interesting 2016, though it does not stop there.

The year also contained key activity on the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review. NDACT was invited to stakeholder sessions (as we were for the ARA). We expect a draft for public comments to be available any time soon, and this will also be a key time for all of us to have our voices heard. We have been vigilant so far and we need to keep up the pressure for protection. Our opportunities to do so will not be endless.

With the increasing focus on climate change there is all the more reason to protect the rich rain-fed food producing lands that we have here in Ontario. We are all voters and consumers. Our voices are the ones that matter. Let us use them in 2016 to move protections forward. We have accomplished so much together.

Thank you to our board members, volunteers, and supporters. Without you we could not have gotten this far.

Eat local and be heard – and have a happy and healthy 2016. Thank you for all that you do.

Shirley Boxem,
NDACT Chair

Let’s make groundwater an issue of national security

The year 2015 was the hottest year on this planet in recorded history. Drought, heat waves and forest fires were all symptoms of rising average temperatures in North America.

Temperature records invite Canadians to rethink the importance of groundwater. The resource is extensively used by communities, industries and farmers. It sustains rivers and wetlands, plays a key role in replenishing surface water systems and provides resilience in times of unpredictable weather.

The impacts of climate change are highlighting the strategic importance of groundwater in this country. As most Californians appreciate, groundwater, like money in the bank, can sustain societies through lean times of little precipitation. Canadians instinctively understand this.

Read more...

Harvesting Appreciation During Agriculture Week

Province Recognizes Those Who Grow and Make Ontario’s Food

October 6, 2015 

In the lead up to Thanksgiving, Ontario is celebrating Agriculture Week which runs from October 5-11.

The province is encouraging the people of Ontario to mark this important week by visiting a local farmers market, buying VQA wine, craft beer and cider, and planning a meal with seasonal ingredients.

Ontario's agri-food industry is a significant driver of the province's economy, contributing $34 billion annually, including $12.5 billion in exports, and employing more than 780,000 individuals. Those who work in the industry:

  • Produce more than 200 agricultural commodities - from quinoa and beef to bok choy and milk
  • Harvest the largest area of winter wheat, grapes, apples, peaches, sour cherries, pears, and plums in Canada
  • Grow almost 99 percent of the country's ginseng, which is known as the highest quality in the world
  • Collect maple syrup from 1.5 million taps
  • Oversee more than half of Canada's greenhouses that produce foods such as peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers

Supporting the province's agri-food sector is part of the government's four-part plan to build Ontario up. The plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan.

Quick Facts

  • In 2013, Premier Kathleen Wynne challenged the agri-food sector to double its growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by 2020.
  • Since 2003, the province has invested more than $160 million to support sales of Ontario foods.

 

“Ontario’s agri-food sector is the cornerstone of our society and a major economic force in our province. Our government is proud to support this important industry and those who work hard to make it thrive. Let’s support the people that make Ontario food all year long. I encourage all Ontarians to get out and visit a farm or farmers market and buy more of the good things that grow in Ontario.”

Jeff Leal

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Posted on Ontario Newsroom

Schreiner challenges Wynne, Brown, and Horwath to protect food and water

Schreiner, in Finch for the 2015 International Plowing Match, is reissuing his challenge to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Andrea Horwath and Patrick Brown to sign the Food & Water First Pledge.

"We can't eat subdivisions, quarries, highways or pipelines," says Schreiner. "Each of the party leaders say they like farmers. Yet, the land they farm is disappearing at a rate of 350 acres per day."

Only 5 per cent of Ontario's land mass is suitable for growing food and even less -- just 0.5% -- is prime farmland. The rate of farmland loss is actually increasing, and Ontario now faces an annual loss of farmland equal to the size of Toronto.

Losing farmland threatens our ability to feed ourselves and hurts Ontario's economy. The food and farming sector employs more than 740,000 people and contributes more than $30 billion to Ontario's economy.

"Every day prime farmland is threatened by development, such as the proposed mega development in Midhurst," adds Schreiner. "A country that can't feed itself is as insecure as a country that can't defend itself. I will continue to fight for policies that support profitable family farms and protect prime farmland."

The Food & Water First campaign is a citizen led effort inspired by the anti-mega-quarry campaign in Melancthon Township. The goal is to change provincial law so that Class 1 farmland -- the most fertile land -- and source water regions are protected in Ontario.

Schreiner is the first and only political party leader in Ontario to sign the Food and Water First pledge.

By Samantha Bird, Sep. 22,2015
Posted on WireService.ca 

Who will make the pledge

 


Candidates in the Simcoe North provincial byelection all tend to agree on the importance of protecting prime farmland and water sources but few will go as far as to sign the Food and Water First pledge.


Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner was in Tiny Township recently to show his support for provincial Simcoe North candidate Valerie Powell and Federal candidate Peter Stubbins. While there Schreiner and Powell solidified their support for Food and Water First campaign which calls on political leaders to do everything in their power to protect Class 1 farmland and source water regions in Ontario from further development.


They also called on Patrick Brown Progressive Conservative candidate for Simcoe North and leader of the opposition to sign the pledge. "We are challenging the leader of the opposition to take a stand on protecting food and water." Schreiner said at the time adding if Brown would not sign the pledge the constituents of Simcoe North could choose to vote for someone who had.

Powell Postmedia sought to pose the question not only to Brown but also to the other candidates in the byelection Brown who has been at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Niagara Falls this week has yet to return calls.


Fred Larsen Liberal candidatein the byelection pointed to the government s record on protecting farmland. "We are currently working with municipalities with the goal of expanding the nearly two million acres of environmentally sensitive land and farmland already protected from urban development by the Greenbeltwith the goal of exploringways to protect prime agricultural lands and ensure farming viability." Larsen wrote in an email, "Our Liberal government has directly supported agriculture by passing the Local Food Act setting up the Local Food Fund and putting 400 million into the agri food sector. Elizabeth Van Houtte running locally for the New Democratic Party was more specific in her support of Food and Water First but she stopped short of signalling she would sign the pledge. Our position is that we need to protect prime farmland and drinking water sources she said, "It is essential with the area that we live in with all of the lakes and farms.We very much need to protect that."


By Patrick Bales, sunmedia.ca
August 19, 2015
http://www.fastbinder.com/delivery/100535/124904/227FB89-2.PDF