The federal and provincial governments regulate agricultural activities through legislation and policies covering research, production, food inspection, marketing, rural development, imports and exports, taxation, environmental impacts and numerous other aspects, too many to name here. Complementary to the compulsory regulations are many voluntary programs, some of which may entail financial incentives for eligible farmers.
Marketing boards control supply and production of supply-managed commodities. The 21 marketing boards in Ontario are operated (governed) by producers and have varying roles in the marketing or selling of different commodities. Some allocate quotas and collectively negotiate prices covering a wide spectrum of products. With some minor exceptions, sales through marketing boards are mandatory.
The Canadian on-farm food safety program has been developed to encourage standards. Many small farmers are subscribing to this voluntary program because it helps secure market access. To support this initiative the Advantage Good Agricultural Practices manual has been compiled to help farmers implement food-safety practices for a variety of commodities, such as general production, livestock, poultry and crops. This program is based on the internationally recognized system known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HAACP).
Provincial Policy Statement
The Provincial Planning Act governs development on private land. Any change in land use, such as a development proposal or an application for a severance on lands containing natural heritage values, such as significant wetlands or habitats of endangered species or significant wildlife habitat must conform to the policies contained in the Provincial Policy Statement, Section 2.1. Normally it is a planning application or change in land use that triggers the application of the policy. For more information, please refer to the Natural Heritage Reference Manual and the Significant Wildlife Habitat Technical guide found on the Ministry of Natural; Resources and Forestry website.
Between 2006 and 2011, the amount of farmland in Canada fell from about 165 million acres to 160 million acres, though there is less land lying unused due to innovations in farming. Statistics Canada’s 2011 Census of Agriculture puts the amount of land usable for farming in Canada at 7.8 per cent. In southern Ontario, home to a quarter of Canada’s population, 16 per cent of the area’s farmland was swallowed by urban development between 1996 and 2001, according to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation. The Provincial Policy Statement, Section 2.2 addresses site alteration around water in order to protect its quality and quantity. Certain vulnerable or sensitive areas have restrictions concerning development or alteration. According to Statistics Canada, over 18 percent of prime agricultural land in Ontario is now being used for urban purposes. The Provincial Policy Statement, Section 2.3 has put in place restrictions to preserve prime agricultural land for the long-term use of agriculture. Restrictions to lot severance and to land use for secondary purposes are addressed in the Act.
Many municipalities now have their Official Plans and land use maps posted on their websites. Click the link to find your municipality and check out their website or call your municipality to find out if there are any land use restrictions on your property. It is best to know the rules before you plan any changes in land use or make application for a severance or some other planning application.
To read all the details about restrictions to development and alteration of sensitive areas, read the full Provincial Policy Statement.