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Area One Farms Research 2017: Tillage

Area One Farms Research 2017: Tillage

Trouble with Tillage

We set out to put in cover crops, in the Eastview Plots that meant pre-spray. In the Down to Earth plots that meant tillage because these plots are in transition to organic and have been in grass. It has not been straight forward (neither have the spayed cover crops, but more on that in our next blog)!

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Area One Farms Research 2017: Seeding

What’s Up?

Seeding time for grains is just over and our research plots with grains are seeded and already emerging! We seeded 6 plots to wheat and two to soybeans with our John Deere 1590 single disk drill. The plots are now ready for a summer of testing and comparison.

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Area One Farms Joins United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment

Area One Farms is pleased to announce that it has qualified to become a signatory and has signed the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment Initiative (UN PRI).

Founded in 2006, UN PRI is a network of global investors committed to working together to put principles of responsible investing into practice. Signatories follow a set of six principles that protect the environment, benefit society, and promote sound governance through integrity and transparent reporting.

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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

For those concerned about the future of Canadian farming, the inability of farmers to capitalize their own farm is a serious issue.

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.

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Ownership is at the Heart of Canadian Farming

The scale and cost of modern operations are changing Canadian farming. Land, machinery, and inputs require such large capital investment that farmers are left asking fundamental questions: How will they purchase enough acres to give their children the farming opportunity that their parents provided? How can children ever accumulate enough equity to build a farm themselves? What will it mean for future generations of family farmers and their communities if institutional investors make a landlord tenant model the new norm in Canadian agriculture?

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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. Farmer ‘A’ is an older farmer who wants to sell his farm. Farmer ‘A’ supports pension fund ownership of farmland because bigger investors drive up the price of farmland. Farmer ‘Z’ is a young farmer looking to buy into a farm. Farmer ‘Z’ wants to restrict large institutional investors to keep land prices low.

This simple story may sell papers, but it misses the bigger picture.

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Canadian Farmers Need the Right Kind of Capital

Last week, Saskatchewan’s government announced that it is restricting pension funds and other investors from purchasing farmland. Saskatchewan has nearly half of Canada’s farmland. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, the group most effected by the decision, is Canada’s largest institutional investor. So it is no wonder that the decision has people talking. The question is whether people are having the right conversation, because whether pension funds are allowed to invest in Saskatchewan or not, Canadian farmers are facing a financing crisis. Farmers cannot get access to the right kind of capital to build stable farms. Now is the time to change that.