According to Statistics Canada, over half a million acres of productive (class 1-3) farmland was “settled” between 2000 and 2011. This “settled area” on dependable agricultural land grew by 19 percent in Canada, with the largest increase happening in southern Ontario and Quebec.
The loss of farmland isn’t a new phenomenon (the last time people in the country outnumbered those in cities was sometime in the 1920s), but the rate at which farmland is being lost development has ramped up. Some regions have already implemented tight restrictions on development of farmland; B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is one example.
In other areas, including much of the Prairies, the scarcity of farmland is less obvious and so it seems little thought is given to urban sprawl.
Protecting farmland can have unintended consequences, of course. Those who farm within a greenbelt or land reserve are limited in the value they can leverage out of their land, and usually farm under more restrictions. While protecting farmland is important, not everyone really wants another layer of rules and regulations hovering over the farm business, especially as many farm families tackle the tough job of funding a viable succession plan (home acreages, anyone?).
And that brings us to this week’s Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down question, where we take a complicated topic and make it as black and white as possible. Have your say in this week’s poll: Should current zoning of agricultural land be made permanent?