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Red tape a barrier for Greenbelt farmers – study


October 21, 2013
By Fruit & Vegetable

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Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Oct. 21, 2013 – The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation recently released a study on the challenges and opportunities of farming as part of the Foundation’s commitment to strengthening farm viability and increasing market access.

Co-authoured by professor Wayne Caldwell of the University of Guelph, a recognized expert on agricultural and rural planning issues, Farming in Ontario’s Greenbelt: Possibility Grows Here provides recommendations to ensure economic prosperity and viability of farming in Ontario.

“The Greenbelt Plan was created, in part, to protect prime agricultural lands from urban development and our research shows that farmers can appreciate this,” says Caldwell. “While we heard diverse views from farmers, they maintain a strong commitment to a progressive and productive agricultural sector.”

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Research conducted through consultations across the Greenbelt concludes that most challenges to farming are universal across the province and not a result of the Greenbelt Plan. Frustrations result from the layers and multiple interpretations of the regulations they face – not necessarily from the regulations themselves. Farmers suggested that successfully navigating through federal, provincial, and municipal regulations takes much longer than previously. Many appreciate the opportunities of a near-urban location, including proximity to thriving economic activity and easier access to growing markets.

“Since the foundation began, we have invested millions of dollars to help support agriculture and local food,” says Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “We have collaborated with a diverse range of partners to provide opportunities for farmers as they help keep our communities healthy and our economy strong. Our commitment to farming continues by ensuring we listen to farmers so that the Greenbelt remains a place where their businesses can grow.”

Key findings from the study include:

Farmers appreciate the intent of the Greenbelt Plan; however some wish land was protected earlier and/or all prime farmland in southern Ontario was protected from development.
Farms located in near-urban locations in the Golden Horseshoe face unique challenges. These include: multiple, disjointed regulations and policies from multiple levels of government that detract from the ability to do business efficiently; and expanding urban-based infrastructure that effects the ability to farm.
These challenges are offset by the benefits, which include being closer to a large and growing market as well as having the ability to proceed with business investments knowing that neighbouring land will not be sold for development because of Greenbelt protection.
The Foundation will present the study to stakeholders in support of the upcoming 10-year review of the Greenbelt Plan.

To download the study, please visit Farming in Ontario’s Greenbelt: Possibility Grows Here.


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