Friday, April 27, 2007


Loss of farmland 'serious'
Thu, April 26, 2007

If idle impressions, reflexive anti-development sentiments, or study-driven speculations to drive more studies won't have you palsying in a generalized fear, then just trust a graduate student — chances are they're well trained in all of the above.
"It is quite serious," says [Bronwynne] Wilton, a University of Guelph graduate student.

"People have become complacent because it is so easy to go to a grocery store and there is food from all over the world readily available at quite reasonable prices. People have become disconnected from the agricultural industry and the food system."

While there are no signs of an immediate food shortage, Wilton warns situations can change, especially in an era of global security concerns and terrorism.
I wouldn't dare deny that situations can change, of course — no one needs a degree or a newspaper to figure that out. Similarly, I wouldn't deny that farmland could become much more valuable for agricultural use than for building someday, but then that very value would confront the "serious" problem, so it's not exactly very serious right now, is it? But the point of Sun Media's exercise, and Wilton's, is to invoke a fear of conceivable but not inevitable events and, without suggesting a precise answer to this fear, to invoke a precautionary impulse — by default, an entreaty for the precautionary principle to applied in thought and action. In thought, a general paralysis among the afflicted citizenry, which leaves action uncontested to government regulation. Good luck with that — even Wilton acknowledges the unintended urban sprawl consequences of the government's greenbelt regulations. If the precautionary principle had been applied in earnest forty years ago, technology wouldn't have even been allowed to increase agricultural efficiency to the point that only a fraction of former farmland is now needed to produce food.

Fortunately, the reliance on aimless principles tend to paralyse even advocates and government into empty rhetoric. A meeting of the local Real Estate Institute of Canada appropriately hinged on "creative" solutions to urban growth.
The bottom line is, growth is OK, if it's sustainable," said Mark Seasons of the University of Waterloo's school of planning.
If farmland is an absolute commodity that cannot be transmuted in value through innovation or "situations," as these alarmist scenarios are meant to suggest, then no growth is sustainable, if it's not too late already. This is just the meaningless nonsense of a sycophant of arbitrary authority to appease its amiable pretensions of moderation and reasonableness. The empty rhetoric goes a long way to tricking themselves of their own importance in solving problems and even into implementing some piecemeal regulations that hamper and add cost burdens to private initiatives and innovative solutions. But at least they can be counted on to stay a few steps behind.

In the meantime, though, gotta keep working on getting those sympathetic sentiments:


Jake said...

This hysteria about development gobbling up farmland is ridiculous--especially in a city like London.

Only 30% of the land in the City of London is developed while the remainder will likely be farmland for at least 50-100 years.

There is hardly anything built south of the 401, which is where the majority of our land is. Anything there is considered "no mans land" to a developer.

This is just another case of the Free Press "inventing" non-issue headlines that aren't even newsworthy. The lead water pipe story is another one that they have beaten to death.

Elaine said...

"While there are no signs of an immediate food shortage, Wilton warns situations can change, especially in an era of global security concerns and terrorism."

What the hell is that suppose to mean? Wilton, if they posion the water, or send a nuke or two our way, no amount of farmland is going to make much of a difference.Not that the terrorist would do that in Canada. They need a safe haven to raise funds.

rhebner said...

Perhaps these folks could bring up southwesten Ont. on google maps. There is farmland a'plenty. Stop worrying.

Carmi said...

Jake: well said. Of course, I derive comfort from the fact that the Freeps is still ABLE to invent "non-issue" headlines that aren't even newsworthy.

Because when you look at the rest of the paper (editorials from afar, sports "letters" from fans who live nowhere near here, a decimated newsroom that can barely fill three pages daily with local content, etc.) it's a wonder that it still has any local staff at all.

I'll be spending an hour after breakfast setting up RSS feeds for the syndicated content that I can fetch online. Then I think it'll be time to (finally) cancel the old subscription. My recycling box will thank me.