McGuinty government acts on advisory team advice

Archived Release

McGuinty government acts on advisory team advice

Agricultural Community Input To Be Reflected In Greenbelt Planning TORONTO, Oct. 22 - The McGuinty government is strengthening the province's agricultural sector by acting on advice from a special advisory team, Minister of Agriculture and Food Steve Peters announced today. "The McGuinty government strongly believes in the future of agriculture and I'm proud to say that we are taking immediate action to protect Ontario's agricultural interest, while furthering our commitment to better managing growth and preserving greenspace," said Peters. "We take very seriously the best advice from the Agricultural Advisory Team on a number of issues raised by Ontario's farmers and other agricultural stakeholders across the province." In June, Peters appointed Bob Bedggood, past president of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, and former federal agriculture minister, the Honourable Lyle Vanclief, to the advisory team to ensure the province's growth strategy addresses input from the agricultural community. Based on the team's advice, the government is addressing several issues that will strengthen the agri-food sector, including: - Working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to develop a strong provincial policy statement that prohibits severing agricultural land for residential purposes, except surplus farm dwelling subject to restrictions that protect farmers - Streamlining the use of formulas used to determine the minimum distance between livestock facilities and existing, new or approved development, into a common formula - Working with the ministries of the Attorney General and Transportation to review the Trespass to Property Act, and assess options for amending the legislation to better address challenges arising from outdoor recreational activities. "This government fully understands and appreciates the contribution that agriculture makes to our economic and social well-being," said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing John Gerretsen. We will continue to do our part to sustain and strengthen this valuable sector." The government is building on recent actions including investing in agricultural research, education and laboratory infrastructure in Ontario, easing property taxes for maple syrup producers, and reducing crop damage by deer. The team's advice will help inform the government's next steps. Disponible en français www.OMAF.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Protecting and Preserving Ontario's Agricultural Productivity The majority of Canada's most productive agricultural land and most diverse agriculture industry are found in Ontario. The amount of productive land is finite and it must be preserved. The sector's diversity and economic viability must be promoted. In recognition of this fact, the government of Ontario has and will continue to take steps to protect the province's agricultural interests, while furthering its commitment to better managing growth and preserving greenspace. At the request of Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing John Gerretsen, based on a recommendation of the Greenbelt Task Force, Minister of Agriculture and Food Steve Peters appointed an Agricultural Advisory Team (AAT), in June 2004. The team was mandated to explore five specific areas including: - Land use planning policies that affect farm viability - The Farming and Food Production Protection Act and Minimum Distance Separation - The identification of areas of prime agricultural land - The role of non-government land trusts and other organizations - Strengthened opportunities for agricultural activities. The Ontario government is already acting on the AAT's advice in several areas: - Working to establish clearly defined urban boundaries for residential, commercial and industrial uses to allow the agricultural industry to plan its long-term investments - Mapping Ontario's agricultural resources, including identifying, protecting and preserving unique specialty crop areas, to enable sound decision making that will encourage and strengthen the viability of agriculture. Other government accomplishments to date: - In April 2004, the Ontario government announced that the land transfer tax would no longer be collected when farmland is transferred from one family member to another. This exemption will save Ontario's farmers as much as $5 million a year and help build a stronger, more prosperous rural economy by ensuring the smooth succession of the family farm. - The Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) is addressing a decade of neglect, by investing in Ontario's agricultural research, education and laboratory infrastructure. The $7.1 million investment will upgrade or replace aging infrastructure at 18 agricultural facilities across the province to ensure the agri-food sector retains its competitive edge. - In September 2004, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) introduced policy changes to help farmers reduce crop damage by deer. These changes, based on consultations with stakeholder groups, will make deer removal authorizations more effective and will improve farm productivity. - The Ministry of Finance (MOF) lowered property taxes for maple syrup producers by reversing the industrial property tax classification that had been applied to some facilities. As of January 1, 2004, maple syrup producers continue to be taxed at the lower farm rate for property tax purposes. Disponible en français www.gov.on.ca/omafFor further information: Mary Devorski, Minister Peters' Office, (416) 326-3077, (416) 606-8303 (Mobile); John Turvey, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, (519) 826-3555; Patti Munce, Minister Gerretsen's Office (416) 585-6333