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OFA encourages producer engagement in upcoming municipal elections

OFA encourages producer engagement in upcoming municipal elections

Oct. 24 is voting day in Ontario

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is encouraging farmers to be involved and engaged in the current municipal election campaign.

On Oct. 24, Ontarians in the province’s 444 municipalities will head to the polls to vote in municipal council and school board elections.

Becoming familiar with the municipality’s official plan and speaking with local officials or candidates is important for understanding how the upcoming elections could affect local agriculture, said Sara Wood, a director with the OFA.

“We want to ensure farmland preservation is top of mind,” she told “More infilling rather than expanding out.”

Ontario loses about 319 acres of farmland per day. That’s equal to 58 city blocks, or enough land to produce 23.5 million apples, 1.2 million bottles of Ontario wine or about 75 million carrots.

If producers aren’t engaged and don’t create relationships with local officials, Ontario could lose more farmland, Wood said.

“A lot of the decisions that affect farmers get made at the municipal level, with land being changed from agricultural to commercial or industrial (use)” Wood said. “If farmers aren’t engaged, someone from an urban setting may be making decisions without understanding what will happen to local agriculture.”

The OFA provided farmers with a list of questions to ask local candidates:

  • Where do you stand on the use of Minister’s Zoning Orders? These are a special tool that allows those intent on pushing urban development to bypass a municipality’s typical planning process, meaning reduced opportunities for essential comments and community input into development proposals.


  • What do you believe to be the purpose of the urban boundary? Their thoughts on your community’s Official Plan and the integrity of its urban boundaries matters. Does the candidate think these are nothing more than a flexible guideline that should be easily moved if desired, or are they hard lines on a map to keep urban sprawl at bay?


  • What does your platform say about public transit? Efficient transit is key to strong urban communities, and helps encourage development in the right places. Transit corridors attract residential projects, commercial enterprises and institutions, and putting these in existing urban areas is much better than digging up a farm to build them.


  • What incentives do you support to bring new development to our community? Incentives can be a powerful tool to encourage the right development in the right places. They are effective for rejuvenating depressed areas of an urban community, and can encourage developers to look at rehabilitating a brownfield within the urban area as opposed to targeting a greenfield farm.


  • What is your future vision for our community? It is a sprawling concrete urban metropolis driven solely by the attraction of an expanded tax base brought on by widespread development beyond the existing urban area? Or perhaps it is a diverse, mixed-use community with local food sources nearby supporting a busy and vibrant urban core.

Trending Video

Creating the Potential for Higher Yields - Phil Needham

Video: Creating the Potential for Higher Yields - Phil Needham

Phil Needham grew up on a family farm on the east coast of England, where 140-160 bu/ac wheat yields were common with around  20-22” of annual rainfall. After college and university Phil moved to the USA in 1989 to join Opti-Crop, a consulting company based in Kentucky. Opti-Crop had contributed to more than a doubling of the Kentucky state wheat yield when they were asked by growers to expand their services to surrounding states and west to Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. In 2000 they expanded their wheat consulting to South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota to manage spring wheat in those areas, and in 2002 they moved further north to help spring wheat producers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Phil will discuss some of the weak links he has seen within the management systems of spring cereal producers across AB, SK and MB. He will then provide options to minimize or eliminate these weak links, to push yields, protein and profits higher, especially in years with above average rainfall. Phil will also discuss ways to minimize expenses and risk, in the years with below average rainfall.



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