Agriculture Industry in Northern Ontario
Northern Ontario has about 1 million acres of agricultural land. 703,000 acres of this million are allocated for production. There are about 2,600 farms in Northern Ontario that generate good money every year. It is believed that all counties in Northern Ontario have additional land that is suitable for agriculture and can be brought into production, but work is required to identify and classify potential agricultural land in Northern Ontario.
Dairy products, beef, floriculture and nursery, hay, canola, maple products and potatoes make the largest contributions to farm cash flows in Northern Ontario. The relatively low cost of farmland compared to Southern Ontario continues to generate interest and open up opportunities for agricultural development in the North.
The agricultural productivity of Northern Ontario depends primarily on the climate. Some of the production challenges associated with a changing climate are likely to include unpredictable or more extreme weather conditions and the introduction of new invasive species and new crop and animal diseases.
At the same time, the productivity of agricultural land in Northern Ontario is increasing due to changing climatic conditions, improved land drainage, new varieties of crops and the use of innovative technologies such as precision farming. Thus, growth in northern agriculture can play a key role in adapting to climate change.
The province's Climate Change Strategy, which aims to make the province climate resilient by 2030, sets out a goal to align climate change with agriculture and natural systems, including helping the agricultural sector adapt to climate impacts and ensuring food security.
Agricultural development in Northern Ontario can also provide opportunities for solving market problems such as lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in some northern regions. Factors such as changing climatic conditions and the use of innovative technologies such as row closures have allowed some producers to start supplying northern markets with fresh fruits and vegetables not traditionally produced in the north.