TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 27, 2016) - Ontario farmland is not being converted to non-agricultural uses at unprecedented or alarming rates, finds a study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"There's a wide-spread public perception that Ontario is rapidly losing agricultural land to urbanization. Quite simply, these fears are unjustified," said professor Glenn Fox, co-author of An Economic Analysis of Rural Land Use Policies in Ontario and Fraser Institute senior fellow.

Building upon analysis by two Western University professors in the 1980s, An Economic Analysis of Rural Land Use Policies in Ontario finds that the area of cropland in Ontario -- land that's used to plant crops -- has been essentially constant since 1951.

Moreover, when you add-in the fact that technology has advanced and farmers are becoming more efficient, the land is becoming more productive (ie: more food is actually being produced with a similar land mass).

"Unfortunately, the false belief that we're running out of cropland has fueled a demand for land-use regulation that keeps agricultural land from being converted into non-farm uses. Ultimately, this reduces the supply of land for housing and drives up home prices," Fox said.

The study also examines government land-use policy over the past several decades including the controversial Greenbelt Act and Plan. It finds that many of the policies implemented by the Government of Ontario ignored basic economics.

For example, most rural land-use policies assert that land that's best suited for agriculture be reserved for agriculture. However the land that's best for agriculture is often also best for residential use, for infrastructure, or for other development.

"To have an absolute advantage policy that says that if land is best for agriculture, it has to stay in agriculture ignores the economic trade-offs of comparative advantage," Fox said.

"While the land may be good for agriculture, we're giving up on other potential benefits from that land -- things like wildlife habitat, development or infrastructure projects and affordable housing."

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

Contact Information:

University of Guelph
Glenn Fox
Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics

For interviews with Mr. Fox please contact:
Aanand Radia
Media Relations Specialist, Fraser Institute
(416) 363-6575 ext. 238