How can I protect my farmland for farming now and in the future?
As an owner of farmland, there are a number of options that may be available to you to protect your land from development, both now and in the future.
Here are some ideas
- Keep your land in active production
This can mean having a farmer graze cattle, grow hay or crops, or start a vegetable operation on an acre or two. The important thing is to find out about your land (e.g. soil types, stoniness, history). Seek out information so that you can make good decisions about what kind of farming you want and what kind of farming activity is suitable for your property.
- Find out about basic principles of soil and nutrient management. You, not your farm tenant, are the steward of your property. Take a workshop on basic agricultural principles, such as the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario's "Introduction to Ecological Agriculture". Go to an Environmental Farm Plan workshop in your area. Neither of these takes much time, but you will learn a lot from these great programs.
- Resist the urge to raise money by severing lots. In many townships this practice is permitted, but on the whole it has a negative impact on farming in the area. Having houses close to farm operations raises all kinds of concerns about "nuisance" noise, dust and odour. It restricts the future farmer's ability to build livestock facilities nearby. Severing a farm house off a farm means that down the road a new farmer will not be able to start out with a 100 acre farm with a house to live in.
- Help out a new farmer. If you help a new farmer to get started on your land, you are helping a whole new wave of farmers to keep farmland active in the future.
- Thinking of selling? Use our Matchmaker to help you find a buyer who is a farmer. Think about whether you can afford to help out with a mortgage at a reduced rate for a few years, if the farmer is short on capital.
- Call Ontario Farmland Trust. On their website you can read about the benefits of farmland protection. One of the tools that may be available to you is registering a legally-binding farmland conservation agreement (FCA) on your farmland. This type of agreement permanently protects the farmland from development, can help keep land in agricultural production, and can facilitate its succession to new farmers in some cases. This DOES NOT involve donating title to your property - you may still sell it to anyone you wish.