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Lands in Northern Ontario could soon be opened up for grazing cattle

Beef Farmers of Ontario sees the Great Clay Belt as an opportunity for beef farmers

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) issued a release on Friday offering praise to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal for the government’s commitment to working with beef farmers to open up Crown and private land in the north for agricultural activities.

“We at the Beef Farmers of Ontario wholeheartedly congratulate Premier Wynne for her continued dedication to this critical issue,” Bob Gordanier, BFO President said in a release, adding that opening up new lands in the Great Clay Belt would provide new opportunities for the province’s beef farmers.

The Clay Belt is found in the northern areas of Ontario and Quebec, surrounded by the Canadian Shield, and has been identified as having significant agricultural potential. The clay soil is extremely fertile, but the often long winters, short growing season and unpredictable rainfall has proved difficult to grow crops. But the lands would be ideal for grazing cattle that can be pastured on various types of lands, including rocky marginal agricultural land.

BFO makes the case that allowing the lands in the region to be made available to farmers would enable them to create jobs in Northern Ontario. The area currently, has been unable to attract good jobs. But this move could change that reality. Allowing farmers to graze cattle in the designated lands would provide amble opportunity for meat processors in Ontario, while making local food more accessible.

Matt Bowman, Vice President of BFO, is encouraged by the potential, and says  that “new and young farmers haven’t had this type of opportunity in a century,” explaining that it is an opportune time for the government to act as beef products have become in high demand locally and around the world.

The commodity group says it looks forward to working with the various stakeholders involved in the decision making process, including the Province, municipal governments and First Nations to create a breakthrough in Northern Ontario.

Minister Leal himself provided the following statement to Farms.com:

“As stated in my mandate letter from Premier Wynne, our government will explore opportunities to develop the agricultural sector in the North. I look forward to continue working with Beef Farmers of Ontario and other partners on this issue as we look to create jobs and grow the agri-food sector across Ontario.”


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