This report from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation outlines changes in agriculture over time in the Greenbelt, compared to the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ontario. Using data from Statistics Canada’s 2001, 2006, and 2011 Census of Agriculture, the paper looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.
Key findings from the study include:
- The Greenbelt includes 5,501 farms and 856,424 acres of farmland; it accounts for 10.6% of Ontario’s farms and 6.8% of its farmland.
- While there has been a decline in the number of farms across Ontario, the size of farms has increased.
- In comparison to other areas of the province, the Greenbelt has several natural advantages in agriculture including climate, soil types, and geography, reflected in the specialized production in its two Specialty Crop areas.
- The Greenbelt’s proximity to the Greater Golden Horseshoe supports local food supply chains by producing a large share of Ontario’s fruits and vegetables.
- The decline in livestock in the Greenbelt largely parallels trends across the province reflecting market realities beyond farmers’ control, as well as some specific challenges related to proximity to urban development. These include complaints about odours, and constraints such as availability of supporting infrastructure and minimum acreage requirements.