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Agronomy 2017, 7(3), 59; doi:10.3390/agronomy7030059

Farming in Northern Ontario: Untapped Potential for the Future

Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Received: 15 July 2017 / Revised: 29 August 2017 / Accepted: 30 August 2017 / Published: 6 September 2017
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Abstract

Farming in Northern Ontario is limited to less than 1% of the total land area available. With over 2000 farms, this is home to about 6% of the province’s population, concentrated in the five major southern border cities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Sudbury and North Bay, with a significant presence of indigenous (i.e., First Nations) and disadvantaged peoples. This review highlights the challenges and opportunities of agriculture in Northern Ontario and offers a few strategies for establishing and sustaining agricultural operations locally. The challenges of farming in this region include the prevalence of adverse climatic conditions, lack of crop/economic diversification, insufficient infrastructure and support services, presence of small local markets, an aging population and youth out-migration, attitudes of dependency on government and limited investment potential. Nevertheless, this region offers much potential for farming as it contains significant amounts of fertile soils, good road networks and affordable land to start up farm businesses. Furthermore, the changing climate could be a boon to improve growing conditions, with expanded cropping options and increased yields in recent years. Production and consumption of local foods, conducting innovative on-farm research that addresses the needs of local producers including First Nations peoples, fostering regional research centres, building relationships through networking, exchange of ideas through effective use of different extension avenues, and collaboration and assisting local producers with market development may help establish a more competitive and sustainable agrifood sector in Northern Ontario. Favourable government policies to support growers who have experienced damage to their crops, forages and livestock due to adverse climatic conditions will further help sustain and expand their agricultural operations. View Full-Text
Keywords: northern Ontario agriculture; climate change; ecozone; drought; diversification northern Ontario agriculture; climate change; ecozone; drought; diversification
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Chapagain, T. Farming in Northern Ontario: Untapped Potential for the Future. Agronomy 2017, 7, 59.

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