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Clay Belt municipalities have acres of farm land to promote – Northern Ontario Business

Cochrane District Agri-Food Assembly Project looks to expand agriculture in Cochrane District

Farmers and municipalities in the Great Clay Belt want to grow food, not trees.

Johanne Baril, mayor of Val Rita-Harty, believes this arable swath of land in the Cochrane District of northeastern Ontario can be recultivated over the next 20 years to feed Ontario and the world.

Farming was once a “thing of the past,” she said last week at the Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Forum in Temiskaming Shores, but climate change, unfortunately, is demonstrating “we can do it again.”

In recent years, there’s been growing interest in agricultural properties here from both newcomers and existing growers looking to expand their holdings on abutting lands.

“The more acreage they have, the better the numbers,” said Baril.

When compared to southern Ontario, the Clay Belt offers relatively lower land prices that’s resulted in a steady migration north from farmers seeking to expand their operations or completely relocate. The onset of climate change could mean longer growing seasons and more crop varieties.

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