The Importance of land use policy in planning for small-scale agriculture in Ontario
Agriculture is changing in Canada. The average size of farms is increasing while the overall number of farms nationwide continues to fall, with the trends towards farm consolidation and industrialization putting smaller farms at risk of disappearing forever. Nevertheless, Ontario’s small-scale farms continue to be an important facet of rural communities, with many positive social, economic, and environmental impacts. Planning in general, and land use policy specifically, has a major role to play in protecting farmland and ensuring long-term viability. This paper seeks to understand the effects of land use policies on the viability of small-scale farms in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe through the study of three upper-tier municipalities and their constituent lower-tier municipalities. By examining the challenges faced by farmers, as well as how these are addressed, we can begin to understand where the blindspots are and what rural municipalities can do to better support small-scale agriculture.