Potential Opening of Ontario's Great Clay Belt to Beef Producers Could be a Boon for Young Ranchers


If you can’t see the embedded audio, click here.

If Ontario wants to build an industry, the Beef Farmers of Ontario have a solution — open up just a portion of the Great Clay Belt crown lands to aspiring ranchers.

The Clay Belt in northern Ontario and Quebec covers an astounding 180,000 sq. km, split into the Lesser and Great Clay Belt areas, the bulk of which sits on the Ontario side. The land is not suited for grain production, but the fertile soil makes for great grass, perfect for grazing cattle.

As Dave Stewart, executive director of the Beef Farmers of Ontario, explains in the audio interview above this land provides an ideal opportunity to solve several issues, not just for Ontario, but also for the beef production industry in general.

The Beef Farmers of Ontario say that the Great Clay Belt is a largely undeveloped agricultural resource and a major economic opportunity for Northern Ontario. By making new lands in the region available to farmers at a reasonable cost, Ontario’s beef farmers will be able to create a new source of stable jobs in Northern Ontario, protect existing jobs by providing a vital supply to meat processors in Ontario, and enable Ontarians to continue to buy local food and support local farmers.

The idea of using, leasing or selling crown land to convert it to beef production has recently gained traction, as Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne included a discussion on the topic in the mandate letter provided to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal. (Read that here.)

Young and aspiring ranchers may especially benefit, says Stewart, as many farms and ranches struggle to expand ahead of succession planning in grain growing regions of the province. The Great Clay Belt could provide a reasonabley-priced land base for new entrants to the industry, he says.

As Stewart says in the audio interview, an upcoming economic analysis of the development of the Great Clay Belt for cattle production will be available for the public very soon.

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