The Glengarry News

Prime agricultur­al land must be protected


To: The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agricultur­e and Agri-Food, The Honourable Catherine McKennna, Minister of Environmen­t and Climate Change and The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage:

We understand the need in the Ottawa region for the expansion of the Ottawa Civic Hospital, however, we also have some very serious concerns with the use of class 1, prime agricultur­al land at the Central Experiment­al Farm in this expansion.

Although we recognize that currently only 50 to 60 acres are being considered to be sold, we fear that the erosion of the Central Experiment­al Farm’s holdings opens the door for further severances.

The role of the Central Experiment­al Farm is no longer simply to help drive innovation in the agricultur­al sector, but it has also become a centre where people have come to learn about how their food is produced and how past innovation­s have contribute­d to the sector’s ability to produce high quality food. At the Farm the public can learn about innovation­s such as the developmen­t of rust-resistant wheat varieties that became a staple variety across Canada.

As such, not only did innovation­s produced at the Central Experiment­al Farm help feed the Canadian population, it also secured Canada as the world leader in quality wheat production. Furthermor­e, since 1970 Central Experiment­al Farm crop scientists have developed and release over 90 varieties of wheat, oats, barley and soybeans to Canadian and world markets. Currently, over 100,000 field plots are devoted to the Research Centre’s plant breeding and agronomy studies. It is essential that the place where these technologi­es were produced is conserved not only to ensure the continuati­on of this important research, but also in order to preserve the public’s link to this important part of our Canadian heritage. Less than two generation­s past, 32% of Canadians had a direct connection to agricultur­e. Today, that number is less than two percent. There is a real disconnect between our population and the basic knowledge of how their food is produced. It is critical that we not erode these public sites that are cornerston­es in the engagement between consumers and food production.

Agricultur­al land in Ontario has disappeare­d at a rate of over 300 acres per day largely due to urban expansion. Although innovation­s in the agricultur­al sector have enabled producers to increase yields - innovation­s such as those developed at the Agricultur­e Canada Experiment­al Farm - a land loss of this magnitude is unsustaina­ble. Already in the province, we are seeing marginal land being brought into production in attempt to combat this loss. This results in woodlots being cut, wetlands are being drained and the loss of natural habitat. These are natural resources that help purify our air, clean our water and provide us with countless other ecological and social services that we all benefit from. We stand with the Ontario Federation of Agricultur­e in encouragin­g developers to find innovative ways to minimize the loss and the impact on active farmland.

In closing, we encourage all parties involved in this project to find ways to eliminate the impact on the agricultur­al sector. There is a finite land mass that is capable of producing the food that we all eat and by reducing the pressure on farmland you are helping us meet the ever growing demand for food. In the federal budget, the government highlighte­d its commitment to increased investment into agricultur­al research. We encourage the government to keep this commitment in mind when they consider the severance and sale of part of Canada’s shared heritage. The Glengarry Federation of


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