Ontario government freeing up land for farming, 'There's a ton of room to grow the industry'
Jason Durochers is a third generation beef farmer.
The coveralls and muddy boots were left at home on Friday; he has the chance to bend the ear of a provincial minister.
"It's great to be here, said Desrochers.
“I’ve been an advocate for farming in Northern Ontario for a while and we've been here for three generations and I think there's a lot of potential."
The Ontario government agrees. It announced a new program aimed at freeing up several 2,000 acre parcels of crown land for farmers.
Farmers said the parcels can each support 200 head of cattle and a family of four.
“Once you establish that critical mass, you attract veterinarians, you attract suppliers and you attract processing opportunities,” said Jeff Leal, Ontario agriculture minister.
Opportunities the government hopes will lead to a stable and diversified economic future for the north.
“There's a ton of room to grow the industry in our small area in Val Gagne - Matheson. There's been quite a bit of expansion with Mennonite communities coming in, but that's just a small example of what can be done all the way to Kapuskasing and Hearst,” Desrochers said.
For dairy farmer turned NDP member of provincial parliament John Vanthof, the only way this program can succeed is with the help of those in the know.
“If government tries to steam roll farmers, the whole project is going to fail, because the only way that this program is going to work is if the farm families are successful,” said Vanthof, Temiskaming-Cochrane MPP.
The Liberal government maintains this program is in the very early stages, really just a conversation at this point, but it hopes that through communicating with farmers who have made agriculture work in the north; it can help bring an alternative to the boom and bust of northern heavy industry.