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University researchers track disappearing farmland

Brandon University

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Brandon University (FILE)

Doug Ramsey, Brandon University department of rural development

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Doug Ramsey, Brandon University department of rural development (BRANDON UNIVERSITY HANDOUT)

Brandon University is involved in a nation-wide study to examine the continuing loss of farmland in Canada and how that affects the country’s global competiveness and food sovereignty.

"In the last 40 years, farmland approximately twice the size of Prince Edward Island has been taken over for urban activities," said Doug Ramsey, from BU’s department of rural development. He's a member of the research team that will spend the next four years studying agricultural land use planning in Canada. "We need to understand how this transfer affects our ability to be a food-producing nation and contribute to the conversation about policies for the future."

The study, spearheaded by the University of Northern British Columbia, is funded through a $464,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

"An important part of the research will be meetings with farmers and residents of rural and urban communities, in town halls, coffee chats and other informal gatherings to hear from the people directly affected," Ramsey said.

The research team intends to publish a book documenting policies and identifying beneficial practices, for future researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and teachers.

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Cities and towns annex the easiest land to develop, which in most cases is productive farmland. They are allowed to do this when in many cases there is less productive land available to them. Government can control this without commissioning expensive studies.

If the BU Team of Rural Development people are as good at this farmland loss project as they were at the municipal compulsory amalgamation program that they iniated and convinced the NDP government to adopt, farmers should be very afraid of what we have coming next .
My suggestion to the NDP: take the $464,000. plus the Rural Development wages and develop some roads and bridges that rural Manitobans really want and are in such bad need of.
Bill Morningstar

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