Ontario cropland isn’t shrinking despite public perception to the contrary, says a new study from the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think-tank.
One of the most oft-cited statistics in agriculture is that Ontario loses 350 acres of farmland a day. But the Fraser Institute report says cropland — the most meaningful measure of the amount of agricultural land, the report argues — is actually increasing.
While farmland decreased 39.33 per cent from 1951 to 2011, most of that loss was actually woodlands and wetlands, say University of Guelph agricultural economics and business professor Glenn Fox and colleague Yi Wang in their Jan. 26 report.
The actual cropland used for growing crops, hay, vegetables, sod, nursery products, fruits, berries and nuts has risen 3.29 per cent in that same 60-year period.
For Western Ontario, farmland — consisting of cropland, summer fallow, pasture, woodlands, wetlands, barns, buildings and other land — decreased 29.10 per cent over 60 years, while Southern Ontario saw a decrease of 16.21 per cent.
But cropland rose quite considerably, by 30.57 per cent in Southern Ontario and 11.22 per cent in Western Ontario.
The study defined Southern Ontario as Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Brant, Oxford, Elgin, Chatham-Kent, Essex, Lambton, and Middlesex counties.
Western Ontario was defined as Peel, Dufferin, Wellington, Halton, Waterloo, Perth, Huron, Bruce, Grey and Simcoe counties.