CFFO Responds to Key Policy Consultations
Guelph, ON – Dec. 13, 2016.
4 Plan Review – Land use planning is a vital process for protecting our dependable productive farmland especially in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region. This region is home to specialty crop areas, high quality farmland, suitable climate, established transportation, farming and food processing infrastructure, a burgeoning local food culture and significant consumer population that all support agriculture. However, these cannot be taken for granted. Development pressures put many of these assets at risk without proper planning, protection and support. There are also new opportunities in this region for agriculture, and forward-looking planning must also keep these in mind.
Protecting productive farmland within the GGH region will require ongoing efforts to direct and control development. The proposed Agriculture Support Network consisting of a farmland base and key farm and food infrastructure looks to keep a thriving agriculture industry. Supporting agriculture will also require protecting and accommodating normal farm practices, animal agriculture, and farm related uses alongside other land uses in the region.
Protecting agricultural land provides both food production and environmental benefits. However, farmers should be appropriately compensated for the value of the environmental goods and services they are providing to the greater public through their land stewardship.
Wetland Conservation – The CFFO recognizes the value of Ontario wetlands as important to healthy waterways and ecosystems, for recharging aquifers, and for their economic benefits as well. As significant landowners in the province farmers will be important potential partners in wetland conservation efforts. Policies to protect wetlands need to balance the needs of agriculture with the benefits of wetlands and wetland species. The agricultural functions of drainage areas and retention ponds need to be protected. Furthermore, policy moves that aim to prevent a net loss of wetlands must not do so at the expense of another of our precious natural resources, dependable productive farmland.
Phosphorus in Lake Erie
The CFFO recognizes the significance of the problem of algal blooms in Lake Erie and the risks these pose to human health, our economy, and to the health of the lake and watershed ecosystems. Nutrient loading, especially that of phosphorus, is a key contributing factor to this problem. All citizens in Ontario need to work towards a solution to this complex problem.
Ontario farmers are already actively working to improve environmental stewardship on farms through individual entrepreneurial improvements, industry led initiatives, and with government support.
Application of nutrients in the non-growing season is a significant concern. This practice has risks for the environment, and can also significantly reduce the benefits farmers receive from the nutrients applied. Education on the right time to apply nutrients needs to be accompanied by collaborative extension to help farmers find solutions appropriate for their farm, and significant cost share or incentives to allow farmers to increase their manure storage capacity.