The agricultural system
What you need to know about the agricultural system approach in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and across Ontario.
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The agricultural system approach, unique in North America, supports both the protection of farmland and the viability of the agri-food sector.
An Agricultural System is comprised of two components:
- An agricultural land base consisting of prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas, and rural lands that together create a continuous productive land base for agriculture.
- An agri-food network that includes infrastructure, services and assets, important to the viability of the agri-food sector.
In the Greater Golden Horseshoe
- The four provincial plans (Greenbelt Plan, A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Escarpment Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan) require the implementation of an agricultural system approach, including recognition of the agri-food network. See details in the Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe.
- OMAFRA identified the agricultural land base consistently across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Municipalities are now refining this mapping before incorporating it into their official plans.
Outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe
- The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) encourages planning authorities to use an agricultural system approach as a best practice to support a thriving agri-food sector. To do this, a continuous land base for agriculture (i.e., prime agricultural areas and rural lands in agriculture) would be identified, as well as elements of the agri-food network.
- The approach outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe is more flexible than within the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Official plan policies
- Whether within or outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), official plan maps/schedules and corresponding policies would be used to implement the agricultural system.
- Within the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe (Section 3.3.4) identify what official plan policies need to address.
- Outside the GGH, these same types of policies could be used, but there is more flexibility.
- The agricultural system approach inter-connects land use planning and economic development. For example,
- Agri-food impacts are considered when municipal decisions are made on roads, bridges and future growth areas.
- The infrastructure and servicing needs of the agri-food sector are addressed.
- Gaps and opportunities are identified for the agri-food network.
- Agri-food economic strategies are developed.
- Many tools and resources are available:
- OMAFRA's Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisors are available to support economic development initiatives.