Benefits from Greenbelt Agriculture Sector Ripple through Ontario’s Economy
New reports provide rare insight into economic impacts and life histories of Greenbelt farmers
TORONTO, February 28, 2022—The Greenbelt’s agri-food sector generated an estimated $4.1 billion in GDP and close to 59,000 jobs in 2020, according to new reports published today by Greenbelt Foundation, with support from the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance. The first report, titled Understanding How Greenbelt Agriculture Feeds the Regional Economy, details agriculture’s economic contribution to the Greenbelt and Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). The second report, titled Greenbelt Farmers: Economic Network Case Studies, focuses on qualitative case studies of seven local Greenbelt farms.
The Greenbelt’s agri-food sector generated an estimated $4.1 billion in GDP and close to 59,000 jobs in 2020, according to new reports published today by Greenbelt Foundation, with support from the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance."
“Agricultural activity in the Greenbelt provides economic benefits that ripple through the economy and have a positive effect on people and businesses beyond the boundaries of the Greenbelt,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “A strong agricultural sector presents opportunities for growth and resilience in other segments of the economy and supports Ontario’s strong emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The case studies report, Greenbelt Farmers: Economic Network Case Studies, provides insight that is not always apparent through a more statistical overview of the agricultural sector. These stories shed light on successes, challenges, and opportunities associated with farming within the Greenbelt. They allow us to see farmers not as statistics, but rather as individuals attempting to make a living while producing food, managing the natural environment, and contributing to their community. Key successes cited by farmers include the creation of local supply chains, the ability to provide local consumers with farm fresh local products, and learning how to be flexible and adapt production to market opportunities.
The economic analysis, Understanding How Greenbelt Agriculture Feeds the Regional Economy, shows that agricultural economies in the Greenbelt and Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) are hyper-local. In fact, over 70 per cent of farm purchases are concentrated within the Greenbelt and GGH region. This data indicates that Greenbelt farmers are developing business relationships with not only local farm input providers, but also other professional business support services such as accountants, lawyers, and financial institutions. The report also shows that, in the secondary agricultural manufacturing sector, purchases from farms and purchases from other food manufacturers are 57 per cent of expenses. This represents significant economic activity that is linked to agricultural production and generates revenue for a variety of manufacturing businesses in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The report notes that population growth in the region is “a double-edged sword.” On the one hand, it presents opportunities for the agriculture sector to grow and thrive in response to increased regional demand. On the other hand, it represents a risk to agri-business in the area as suitable land becomes increasingly expensive and scarce. Therefore, governments must carefully manage regional growth and land use to protect complete and functional local agricultural systems.
“The Greater Golden Horseshoe continues to be one of the fastest growing regions in Canada,” says Janet Horner, Executive Director of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance. “With a temperate climate, fertile soils, and proximity to local and North American markets, farmers and food businesses in the area have an unmatched opportunity to meet the growing demand for food. Protection of the land base through sound land-use planning and intensification policies will help to ensure that Canada’s food supply chain remains strong.”
To read both reports, please click HERE.
To read a Backgrounder with further information, please click HERE.
“The relationships between farmers and others in the agricultural sector are vast and interconnected. When you support agriculture, you support more than just food production. You support the countless businesses, jobs, and livelihoods that depend on agriculture for their living – without farmland that supports agriculture we would lose many if not most of these connections and jobs.”—Wayne Caldwell, PhD, RPP, FCIP. Lead author of Greenbelt Farmers: Economic Network Case Studies and Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Rural Planning and Development, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development University of Guelph
About Greenbelt Foundation:
Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural, and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.
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