Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Don McCabe, OFA Director
A new provincial soil health strategy has been announced to maintain soil health and sustainability in Ontario. A draft form of New Horizons: Ontario’s Draft Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation, document focuses on improving soil health for the long term, and is now open for public comment and review until the end of the year.
The soil strategy builds on the extensive soil health work of many Ontario farmers, farm agricultural organizations, ongoing research and OMAFRA initiatives. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) was actively involved in the development of this strategy and we’re pleased to see that feedback from Ontario farmers, the Indigenous community and other interested groups was considered in this new soil health strategy.
OFA is encouraging its members to share their thoughts and feedback on the draft strategy. Your input will help guide the development of a final Soil Health and Conservation Strategy for Ontario, which will be released in spring 2018. Visit www.ontario.ca/soil for more information on open house meetings and how to provide your comments on New Horizons: Ontario’s Draft Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation document. The consultation period is open until December 30, 2017.
The new soil strategy was developed in collaboration with Ontario’s agricultural sector and is designed to guide provincial efforts and investments to ensure we are meeting necessary objectives to improve and maintain healthy soils. The strategy is designed to reinvigorate collective efforts to have healthy, productive soil for generations, while supporting long-term profitability for farmers. The strategy is also intended to foster a shift in the way we think about soil, and the approach we take in caring for the soil.
Healthy soils are always a priority for Ontario farmers. OFA believes soil health and resilience, soil conservation and sustainability, cover crops and organic matter are all critical factors in the sustainability of our agricultural system.
The draft soil health strategy is part of a larger process to develop a final soil strategy – a long-term framework for 2018 to 2030 that will guide soil health action, research, investments and activities for decades.
Soil is critical to our farm productivity, our biodiversity and our success in producing food for the future. We all have a role to play in maintaining and improving soil health. OFA encourages all Ontario farmers to review the draft soil strategy and provide your feedback on this essential resource.