BFO Statement on Farmland Preservation

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Source: Beef Farmers of Ontario

Beef Farmers Rally for Support to Protect Ontario’s Food System and Prevent Further Loss of Valuable Farmland and Pastures  

The Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) stand with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) in their vow to prevent the further loss of farmland in the province. Protecting valuable pastureland which, according to Census data, is proven to be lost at a much higher rate than any other type of farmland, is extremely important to Ontario beef farmers. These losses are unsustainable and given the anticipated population growth in Ontario, Canada and the world, further priority and action by government is needed to protect farmland in order to maintain a sufficient supply of locally grown food.

As stated by OFA, urban sprawl is threatening the viability and sustainability of productive farmland in Ontario. Based on data from the latest Census of Agriculture (2016), approximately 175 acres of farmland is being lost every day, which equates to five farms per week, to urban development in our province.

“BFO has long advocated for the protection of farmland, but more specifically marginal land that isn’t suitable to grow crops, but where beef cattle can thrive on healthy pasturelands,” shares Rob Lipsett, BFO President. “Every acre of pastureland that is protected contributes to soil health and provides a home for earthworms, wildlife and birds, not to mention the carbon storage ability of our tame grasslands.”

The impacts of the loss of farmland extends beyond concerns around food production capacity. Farmland and pastures play a significant role in providing and maintaining habitat for pollinators and species at risk. Research has found the decline in cattle numbers in Canada is directly linked to the decline in grasslands, which leads to a decline in habitat for grassland birds like the Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark who rely on these lands as much as ruminant livestock do. Pasturelands are also critical for oxygen production and carbon sequestration, maintaining and improving soil health, water cycling and biodiversity.

“The symbiotic relationship between grasslands and beef cattle has a measurable impact on the environment and the well-being of people,” explains Lipsett.  “Ontario’s beef farmers continue to protect this important natural ecosystem, but we need government to work with us to manage urban development responsibly.”

Agriculture is the backbone of our rural communities and is important to the quality of life of all Ontarians. In addition to environmental benefits, beef farms and the broader beef cattle sector have a presence and economic impact in every county and district in Ontario, sustaining more than 61,000 jobs in primary production, processing and retail across the province. Ontario’s beef industry, and the farmland used to raise cattle and produce beef, is vitally important to the well-being and growth of families, businesses and communities.

BFO calls on its membership and both rural and urban communities across Ontario to engage in the OFA-led campaign and online petition. Sign the petition here and for more details on their campaign, visit homegrown.ofa.on.ca.

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