(Orillia, ON) Emery Huszka, NFU-O President, presented at the Ontario Farmland Trust forum on March 30 about the impact to farmland when farmers no longer own it.
“The NFU has been calling for farmland to remain in the hands of farmers since its inception. There are protections for farmland in other parts of this country but not in Ontario. If legislators in Ottawa and Queen’s Park refrained from eating for a few days prior to debating agriculture laws, I’m pretty sure we would have better legislation in favour of farmers,” Huszka noted.
In 2015, the NFU issued an updated version of its 2010 report on farmland entitled Losing Our Grip: How Corporate Farmland Buy-up, Rising Farm Debt, and Agribusiness Financing of Inputs Threaten Family Farms and Food Sovereignty. The report, which Huszka referenced, notes “When farmers are in a position to make long-term decisions, they can put the sustainability of ecosystems ahead of immediate revenues. Long-term thinking …provides both the ability and the motivation to retain the knowledge and skills of farming in the next generation.”
“We just saw this in Brantford and Brant County which implemented the largest annexation in southern Ontario in recent history, gobbling up approximately 9,000 acres of mostly prime farmland,” Huszka reminded the audience.
Land assembled into large parcels by investment companies becomes unaffordable to all but the very wealthy and institutional investors such as pension funds. Farmland investment companies are shifting Canadian farmland ownership from actual farmers to a new class of absentee landlords.
“Farming is not a mobile career. Farmers invest long term into their land, and they need control in order to make those investments pay off, and instead of urging farmers to get bigger, faster, and focus on exports, we need to look at models that provide economic security for farmers, like supply management,” Huszka concluded. “Do Canadians want to rely on foreign governments for the food they eat? Each time we, as citizens of Ontario, allow farmland to move out of the hands of farmers and into the hands of investors and developers, we put our ability to feed ourselves, now and in the future, in jeopardy.”
For more information contact:
Emery Huszka, NFU-O President: 519-692-4892 or firstname.lastname@example.org