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Disappearing farmland? Not in Eastern Ontario

EASTERN ONTARIO — Disappearing farmland? Not in Eastern Ontario. While Statistics Canada reports that Ontario farmland is disappearing at a rate of 319 acres per day, the reality on the ground in Eastern Ontario is much different.

Over the last 10 years, the amount of cropland in Eastern Ontario has held steady and then some, thanks to a substantial production shift largely to counties furthest east. That’s based on figures from the 2021 Census of Agriculture. While it’s true that overall farm real estate has shrunk, net cropland has not — an important distinction in a hungry world.

Eastern Ontario counted just over 2.2 million acres of cropland in 2021. This is essentially the same as 10 years earlier, though 2021 is technically up 0.02% (or 357 acres) over the cropland total in 2011. The 2021 figure also represents a slightly bigger bounce from the 2016 Census, which recorded cropland dipping to just under 2.19 million acres.

Farmers Forum defines Eastern Ontario as the 14 geographic regions — most of them counties — east of Toronto. 

Between 2011 and 2021, five areas increased their cropland acres, offsetting a decrease elsewhere in Eastern Ontario. This tradeoff allowed the region to maintain a virtual status quo in cropland size. Rural counties south of Ottawa led the way in cropland growth. 

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