By Tom Collins
OTTAWA — Ontario has more cropland than ever. But overall, the province is losing 175 acres of farmland every day, according to latest Census of Agriculture, thanks mostly to a decline in pasture land.
The 2011 ag census says there were 12.67 million acres of Ontario farmland. Those acres dropped to 12.35 million acres in the 2016 census. That’s a 2.5 per cent (or 319,773 acres) drop in farmland over five years. It also translates to a loss of 175 acres of farmland every day.
Most of that loss can be attributed to a decline in pasture land. Tame, seeded and natural pasture land dropped about 336,000 acres from 2011 to 2016, according to the census. Crop land, excluding Christmas trees, actually increased by 91,350 acres from 2011 to 2016.
The same was true across the country. Canadian crop land, excluding Christmas trees, was up by six-million acres from 2011 to 2016, even though the overall farmland total was down 1.43 million acres.
There was a drop of two-million pasture acres and three-million fallow land acres, which is cropland intentionally not planted during a regular growing season to give the soil time to recuperate.