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Province launching Northern Livestock Pilot Project

Education and research initiative expected to kickstart farming in Northern Ontario
A new provincial pilot project is designed to help increase beef production in the North.

The province has announced it is launching the Northern Livestock Pilot Project, a new initiative designed to help boost cattle farming in the North.

Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, was in Timmins on May 12 to announce the start of consultations with Indigenous partners, local municipalities, livestock organizations, and industry for the initiative.

According to a news release, the project will: 

  • invest in new research to understand the social, environmental and economic aspects of Northern livestock expansion;
  • work to provide a parcel of Crown land to help kick start livestock farming in the region; and
  • develop educational and other resources to help those starting a farm in the North.

The province said that, as of the 2011 Census, there were approximately 1 million acres of farmland in Northern Ontario, with about 703,000 acres in production. That was made up of 2,600 farms, which generated close to $192 million in revenue.

Ontario is in the process of releasing updated soil mapping in the Cochrane District to help inform farmers’ business and production decisions.

Since 2013, the province has invested $12.7 million through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. to improve 25,500 acres of Northern Ontario agricultural land to strengthen and grow agricultural production.

“It is encouraging that the provincial government has made a commitment to identify opportunities for livestock production in Northern Ontario. Expanding beef production in Northern Ontario, which has many environmental, economic and social benefits for Northern communities, has been a priority of the Beef Farmers of Ontario for several years," said Matt Bowman, president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario, in the release.

“We remain dedicated to creating an affordable pathway for beginning and existing farmers who are looking to establish environmentally sustainable and economically viable farm businesses in the North and across the province. We look forward to continued collaboration with government and other partners to achieve this goal.”