Manure Manager

News Business/Policy Canada
Ag in brief: OFA, Waterloo farmers ‘disappointed’ in Wilmott land situation


May 15, 2024  by Manre Manager

The Waterloo Federation of Agriculture (WFA) and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) have expressed mutual disappointment in what it calls an “ongoing lack of transparency and consultation” regarding a potential purchase of farmland in Wilmot Township, a municipality within Waterloo Region.

A consulting firm acting on behalf of the Region of Waterloo has approached farmers and landowners in the area with offers to purchase 770 acres of prime farmland for a yet undisclosed industrial economic development project.

“Investing in agriculture and food production and processing will also create jobs and economic development in Ontario, as well as creating new opportunities for rural communities who are poised to grow,” said farmer and OFA president Drew Spoelstra in a statement. “We can’t emphasize enough the need to balance growth with minimizing the ongoing loss of farmland in Ontario and protecting our precious and limited agricultural resources wherever possible.”

Under the Region’s land purchase offer, any landowners who do not agree to sell would see their farmland expropriated for industrial development. The Waterloo Federation of Agriculture’s requests to delegate to Wilmot Township Council and Waterloo Region Council have both been denied, with interactions between both Councils and individual farmers described by OFA as “minimal.”

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“We’ve been calling for a pause on this action so that local farmers and landowners can be consulted, and we’re disappointed at both the lack of transparency around this project and the unwillingness to involve farmers in the process,” said Spoelstra. “Meeting the growth targets set out for the agri-food sector under the province’s Grow Ontario Strategy will require strategic economic investments to grow the industry, a targeted approach to farmland protection across Ontario’s productive farm landscape and collaboration between all levels of government, landowners and farmers.”

Both the WFA and the OFA are continuing efforts to engage in discussions to identify alternative locations for this development so the loss of productive farmland can be minimized.

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