NFU-O farmers and board members pose with Losing Our Grip, which highlights the loss of farmland to urban development.
(Ottawa, ON) National Farmers Union-Ontario members recently attended the public consultation hosted by the National Capital Commission and urged the NCC to protect farmland and increase public agricultural research when formulating their report on the best site for the new Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital.
“We may only make up 2 percent of Canadians, but farmers feed 100 percent of the population. Taking away valuable research land in light of the government’s focus on climate change mitigation is short-sighted to say the least,” noted Katie Ward, Ottawa-area farmer and NFU-O director. “Fragmenting the farm into smaller chunks would be the start of a slippery slope leading to its eventual destruction and have an absolutely negative effect on drought-tolerant crop research that can help save farmers in eastern Ontario who are suffering through the most severe drought since the 1880s.”
In 2015, the National Farmers Union published an update to their 2010 report entitled Losing Our Grip concerning the loss of farmland in Canada, and noted that, “Approximately 550,000 acres of Class 1, 2 and 3 farmland were consumed by urban and industrial development between 2000 and 2011.”
“Farmland in Ontario is disappearing at an alarming rate, and while no one disputes the need for a new hospital, governments need to recognize that farmers rely on institutions like the Central Experimental Farm to perform crop and livestock research that will help pull us through droughts like the one recently experienced across Ontario,” said Emery Huszka, NFU-O President of the NFU-O.
The NFU-O is concerned that inroads made on the CEF by the hospital would just be the tip of the iceberg, since most organizations or developers don’t see the results of public agricultural research – all they see is an undeveloped piece of land in the middle of the city. Huszka said. “We want the NCC to ensure that every possible effort is made to preserve this scientifically significant research site for future generations of farmers and eaters.”