On November 1, 2002, Margaret Walton of Planscape presented a draft paper on agricultural issues to the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel and Strategy Sub Panel. This paper is the finalized version of the draft paper that was presented. It is submitted to the Panel to assist in their deliberations on a strategy for growth in Central Ontario.

In preparing and finalizing this report extensive reliance was placed on the work done by Planscape throughout the Golden Horseshoe both with and for the agricultural community. Planscape has extensive experience in analyzing and understanding the economics of agriculture and the related implications for land use.

It is acknowledged that one of the most effective tools for preserving agricultural land is economic prosperity for the industry. The current economic pressures on agriculture, including low commodity prices and international farm subsidies, reduce the effectiveness of this tool. However, in establishing land use policy, the cyclical nature of the economy must be acknowledged and balanced against the long-term societal benefits of preserving an agricultural land base.

The importance of managing agricultural land is elevated by the fact that, in addition to providing a base for economic activity and allowing production that could not occur elsewhere in Ontario to continue,agricultural land in urbanizing regions enhances quality of life. It contributes to green space, wildlife habitat, rural character and access to fresh, high quality, locally grown produce. In preparing this report, an attempt has been made to balance all of these considerations.