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Farm community shrinking, says Grey County ag. federation

Grey County Federation of Agriculture presented concerns about loss of farmland across the province with Grey Highlands council

The Grey County Federation of Agriculture is concerned about the continuing loss of farmland across the province.

Federation director Hugh Simpson made a presentation to Grey Highlands council at its meeting on March 1. Simpson outlined a number of the federation’s local activities, advocacy for the local agricultural industry and upcoming events.

In his presentation, Simpson said there are 448,197 acres of farmland in Grey County and a total of 2,178 farms locally that employ more than 8,000 people. Simpson said, across Ontario, 319 acres of farmland are lost per day to development. He said the issue is more acute closer to the larger urban centres, but said Grey County is not immune.

“We are a shrinking farm community,” he said.

Simpson said Grey County’s “astounding” and “attractive” landscape is drawing new residents to the community who purchase properties that are agricultural land, but don’t use them for agricultural purposes.

“They don’t think of it as a farm, they think of it almost like an estate lot,” he said, with uses of the property often becoming more recreational in nature.

Simpson said two of the local federation’s goals are to engage with its membership to ensure the current farming community’s needs are being heard and to attract and encourage young farmers to enter the field.

The local federation also supports the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s priorities of: farmland preservation, climate change, mental health and wellness, expanding broadband internet and the expansion of natural gas services.

“We’re here and we’re ready to talk,” he said.

The local federation will be talking to regional leaders about the impacts on agriculture of Bill 23 in the coming weeks. The Grey County Federation of Agriculture will host a gathering of municipal, provincial and federal politicians with a focus on Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act passed late last year by the Ford government. 

The meeting will be held at Keady in Chatsworth on March 25. The meeting is not open to the public.

“We are advocates for the conscientious use of the powers that come with that bill with a view of preserving farmland,” said Simpson.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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