Ontario Farmland Trust Pushes Parties On Farmland Preservation

blackburn-photo-web

The Ontario Farmland Trust is welcoming a move by the provincial Liberals and calling on the other provincial party leaders to follow suit.

The Liberals unveiled their ‘Farms Forever’ program this week, describing it as an enhanced and collaborative approach to farmland protection.

The Ontario Farmland Trust says it formally recognizes farmland protection as a key issue in the province.

Now the Trust wants the other party leaders to speak to how their election platforms address protection of farmland.

The Liberal program includes offering willing farmers tax advantages or other incentives to protect their farms with easements.

Those easements would prevent future non-agricultural developments on that land.

Easements are a part of the Ontario Farmland Trust’s own Farmland Forever campaign to protect agricultural land.

By Ray Baynton
Posted on BlackburnNews, May 22, 2014

Wynne Introduces Farms Forever Program to Gain Rural Support

Wynne visits farm to talk about support for agriculture

PARIS, Ont. -- Premier Kathleen Wynne donned a pair of Liberal red rubber boots Tuesday to visit a farm in one of the party's few rural ridings, announcing support for the agriculture industry if they're re-elected.

Wynne said she would introduce a $40-million-a-year fund over 10 years to support the food processing industry, which she said would help farmers buy machinery and equipment.

"We know that if we can partner with businesses and make sure that they have the support that they need and that they can grow and that they can market their products we know that we can grow the food processing and the agri-food industry generally in the province," she said in Paris, Ont., in Liberal Dave Levac's Brant riding.

The money would come from a $2.5-billion "jobs and prosperity" fund aimed at providing government grants to businesses, which was part of the Liberal budget that failed to pass.

Many of the province's rural ridings are held by Progressive Conservatives, but Wynne suggested funding for the agriculture sector isn't just about those seats.

"Yes, it's in an election campaign and of course we are all campaigning, but whether my political career ... is advanced by doing this or not, it is absolutely important to the future of this province that we have a strong agriculture and food industry," she said.

Wynne admitted last year during her bid to become Liberal leader that the government's popularity has suffered in rural Ontario, partly over industrial wind turbines.

Wynne's own seat is a Toronto riding, but the premier also took the post of minister of agriculture and food. When asked about trying to shed a downtown Toronto image, Wynne married urban and rural with a personal anecdote about her grandmother who grew up on a farm and didn't have money to go to university.

"If kids who grow up on farms want to go to university and then come back I want the government to be there for them to help them do that," she said. "That's not about being a rural kid, it's not about being an urban kid. That's about being a kid who wants to have opportunity. That's what our government is about."

Wynne also spoke about a Liberal "farms forever" program, which would be aimed at protecting agricultural land close to urban centres.

"We recognize that preserving farmland is a very important part of our responsibility and that's what the farms forever program would be about," she said.

"The other thing that I have heard as minister of agriculture and food is the need for support for young farmers who want to get into farming, either to be able to buy their family's land or to be able to break into farming even if they haven't been part of a farm family."

Under the program, a landowner could request an easement to prevent non-agricultural development from taking place on the land even if it is sold.

Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli, whose riding is in northern Ontario, waited outside the farm Wynne visited to criticize the Liberal platform, which he suggested is not costed out, though he didn't offer specific criticisms of the agriculture fund.

"When you're making an agricultural announcement that involves funding you're basing it on funding you don't have," he said. Fedeli scoffed at the notion that the Tories are in danger of losing rural ridings.

"I don't think the Liberals are making gains in rural Ontario whatsoever."

Ontario voters go to the polls June 12.

 
Posted on CTV News website May 20, 2014
 

We can’t eat subdivisions, quarries, highways or pipelines

Challenge all Political Parties to put Food & Water First

Orangeville -- Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, has challenged the leaders of Ontario’s other parties to sign the Food and Water First Pledge.

“We can’t eat subdivisions, quarries, highways, or pipelines,” says Schreiner. “Aggregates just aren’t very nutritious.”

Schreiner, who grew up on a farm, was an early champion of the local food movement. He was the first political leader in Ontario to speak out against the Melancthon Mega Quarry.

“It breaks my heart to see the Ontario government fail to protect prime farmland. 350 acres of farmland a day bulldozed or paved over. It’s an unforgivable loss of such a vital resource.”

Losing farmland not only threatens our ability to feed ourselves, it also jeopardizes our economy. The food and farming sector employs over 700,000 people, contributes over $30 billion to Ontario’s economy and is essential to our quality of life.

“My top priority is to put food and water first,” says Karen Wallace, GPO candidate in Dufferin-Caledon. “I’m running to protect prime farmland and source water regions.”

While Queen’s Park sits on its hands, citizens have taken action to protect food and water. Schreiner is the first and only provincial party leader to sign the Food and Water First pledge to permanently protect Ontario’s class 1 farmland and source water regions.

“After all the hard work of citizens like Karen to stop the Mega Quarry, it is unacceptable that there is no legislation to prevent the another mega quarry from threatening our farmland and water,” says Schreiner.

Posted on NorthumbelandView.ca
May 14, 2014

What is water worth?

Farmland is parched. Companies are worried. The global demand for water will soon outstrip supply. What's the solution? Simple, say some business leaders and economists: Make people pay more for the most precious commodity on earth.

 

FORTUNE -- Sarah Woolf's 1,200-acre farm in Cantua Creek, Calif., sits in the Central Valley, which runs in a narrow stretch more than 400 miles through the middle of the state, covering an area about the size of West Virginia. Hemmed in by the Cascade Range to the north, the Tehachapi to the south, and the Sierra Nevada to the east, the valley has long been one of the most bountiful farming regions in the country. Though it has less than 1% of America's farmland, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it supplies a quarter of the nation's food.

And for the past three years it has suffered the worst drought in almost anyone's memory. In January, with California's river and reservoir levels at record (or near record) lows, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. By March the drought was so severe that the state and federal governments, which both run systems that transport water from the Sierras to the valley, cut off supplies to farmers. That left many of them with two unpleasant options: Buy water on the spot market for up to four times the normal price or cut back sharply on planting.

Read more...

June 2014 Provincial Election

fwf-sign

Ontario voters will be going to the polls in June and Food & Water First is ready!

While the four parties campaign for our support, we’re going to be pressing all the candidates to stand up for this province’s Class 1 farmland and source water regions.

 

The politicians will be asked to put Food & Water First. We’ll have further details in the coming days.

In the meantime, visit our Sign Depot page and plant a lawn sign.

The campaign for Ontario’s vital agricultural and water resources is underway!

By the Food and Water First News Team