Ontario is facing an alarming decrease in active farmland. Ontario Farmland Trust estimates that more than 300 acres of farmland are developed or go out of production each day in this province. Meanwhile, the population continues to grow, bringing new demands for food and farm products.
You can be part of the solution! By renting your land or creating a business relationship with a farmer on your land, you can help keep farmland in farming.
Find Farmland is a free tool created by Farms at Work to aid in farmland protection efforts by making it easier for farmland owners to connect with others interested in access to land opportunities.
Topics on this page:
NEGOTIATING A FARMLAND LEASE
Work through more than 60 questions to consider
when negotiating a lease of farmland.
- Land Leases
- Crop Share
- Farm Buildings
- Flexible Cash Leases
Farm and Food Care information on "Farmland Agreements"
Wondering about farmland values and lease rates in Ontario?
Check OMAFRA estimates here: https://data.ontario.ca/dataset/estimated-value-and-rental-rate-of-farmland-by-county-and-township
and University of Guelph annual survey results here: https://www.onfarmlandsurvey.com/
LEARNING ABOUT YOUR FARMLAND
Environmental Farm Plan workshops
Both owners and tenants of farmland may complete an Environmental Farm Plan, which involves assessing risks and solutions to environmental risks on farms. It is a great opportunity to learn more about the property at the same time. There is no cost to attend this 2-day workshop offered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
Dates and locations can be found on the OSCIA website here: https://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/workshops-and-events/
FUNDING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS
Funding that helps farmers and their tenants work together to make environmental improvements on farms is available from a variety of sources.
Many government funding programs for agriculture can be accessed through the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
Conservation Authorities in some watersheds offer funding programs for specific types of activities. Check with your local CA to find out if they have a program. Don’t know what watershed your farm is located in? Click here to visit the Conservation Ontario search tool.
Want to restore a wetland? Contact Ducks Unlimited
Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) offers funding for specific types of on-farm activities.
In some areas of the province, there may be collaborative groups of organizations who can help you. For example, in east central Ontario, visit the East Central Farm Stewardship Collaborative to find a range of options all in one place. Ask your Conservation Authority if there are additional regional collaborations or supports in your area.
Premises Identification Numbers
A Premises Identification Number is required in Ontario for access to many funding and compensation programs. It is free and can be obtained by telephone or online. A Premises Identification Number, referred to as a Premises ID (PID), is a number identifying a parcel of land where agri-food activities occur. Premises Identification Numbers differ from business registration numbers (e.g. Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN), license, or other business identifiers as each one is linked to a specific parcel of land, not to a business.
PROPERTY TAX REDUCTION PROGRAMS
- Farm Property Class Tax Rate Program
Active farms in Ontario (whether farmed by the owner or a qualified tenant) may benefit from a 75% reduction in property taxes on the farmland portion of their land.
If you are considering buying farmland, or have recently purchased a farm, be sure you know the rules:
- Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP)
Landowners who have their property classified as a 'Managed Forest' pay 25% of the municipal tax rate set for residential properties. The landowner must apply for this program and create a written plan.
To be eligible you must:
- own 4 hectares (9.88 acres) or more of forested land on a single property in Ontario on one municipal roll number
- be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- be a Canadian corporation, partnership
- be a trust or conservation authority
- have a minimum number of trees on each hectare (acre) of forest you own
- for more information, visit the MFTIP website
- Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP)
Through this program, land that has important natural heritage features can qualify for a 100% property tax exemption. Properties that qualify are determined by the province. This tax program can apply to part of a farm, further reducing property tax.
For more information, visit the CLTIP website.
PERMANENTLY PROTECTING YOUR FARMLAND
If you are looking to protect your land from development or want to keep it in production as farmland into the future, think about an easement and/or donation of your land. Research organizations in your area that work in agriculture, and especially organizations who are hoping to help new farmers access farmland they can't afford to buy.
Landowners in Ontario may donate land (immediately or through their will), or they may choose to place an “easement” on their land through a land trust, or other conservation body. The conservation body can be a federal, provincial or municipal government body, an independent, non-profit conservation organization or a land trust. The easement agreement is registered on title and prevents development of the land by future owners. It is not a transfer of title.
Read more about conservation easements here: Conservation easements for agricultural land use | ontario.ca
Land trusts: Land trusts are one type of organization that can accept an conservation easement. While many land trusts focus on protecting natural features such as wetlands and forested areas, some also protect farmland. Consider these resources if you are looking for a land trust.
Ontario Farmland Trust
Nature Conservancy of Canada
Visit the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and look through their Land Trust Directory. Not all organizations accepting easements are listed.
RESOURCES FOR NEW FARMERS
Visit ontarionewfarmer.ca for information about where to find help starting a farm in Ontario. Organizations listed may also have support available for farmers looking for land.