A Billion Dollars for Northern Ontario Agriculture

Would you invest a billion dollars in Northern Ontario agriculture?

If your answer is no, you may want to reconsider. 

The combination of rising global population and financial uncertainty make farmland a safe bet. Nowhere is that more true than in Canada, which enjoys abundant arable land, ample rainwater, developed infrastructure, and a long tradition of expert farming. Northern Ontario has all of Canada’s advantages, and then some. It is also one of the largest agricultural development opportunities in the world. 

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Farmer-Centric Capital Puts Ownership Within Reach

Land ownership is the most stable and lucrative part of farming; without a pathway towards it, many people who want to farm will inevitably choose other business opportunities, typically outside of their communities.

The future of family farming in Canada thus depends on farmers accessing the kind of farmer-centric capital that puts them in a position to own. 

Capital that leads to farmland ownership for farmers is, first and foremost, a lot of capital. It is also capital that respects a farmer’s autonomy, patiently allows for growth and secures against downturns, and shares the value created, including farmland appreciation.

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Joelle FaulknerComment
Ownership is at the Heart of Canadian Farming

Farmers hope to see a pathway to ownership and are struggling to put together enough equity. Absent old ways of financing a farm, it is understandable that farmers across Canada are uneasy. In the short term, farmers’ inability to own farmland translates to losing the most stable and lucrative part of farming. In the long term, the lack of family farming opportunities means fewer of the next generation will chose or be able to farm, hollowing out the people and talent that keep farming communities vibrant. These underlying factors, more than anything else, help to explain concerns about large-scale institutional investment in Saskatchewan farmland.

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There are More than Two Types of Farmers

Reports this week out of Saskatchewan tend to group farmers in two opposing categories. This simple story may sell papers, but it misses the bigger picture. The types of questions we should be asking are the ones relevant to all Canadian farmers, 'A' to 'Z'. How can young farmers enter farms that will scale? How can experienced farmers grow enough to accommodate more than one child without risking their existing business? How can older farmers exit while keeping the value of their farm within their communities? The answers lie in the type of capital Canadian farmers can access. 

 

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Joelle FaulknerComment