National | Media Release

Young farmers and farmworker leaders rally on Parliament Hill to demand a ban on investor ownership of Canada’s farmland

Members and supporters of the National Farmers Union are rallying to protect Canada’s limited viable farmland from speculation. NOTE: The time of the rally has changed from 12-3pm to 2-4pm

Ottawa/Unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation –  Farmers, farm workers, and supporters are gathering on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, November 22nd from 2PM-4PM to demand that the Federal government protect Canada’s food sovereignty and impose a ban on investor ownership of farmland. On the Hill, young farmers and farm workers will lead a farmland access visioning activity where participants will create squares to form a collective quilt, share seeds, create an art piece, and spread messages of resistance and solidarity. An open letter outlining the need for protection of Canada’s farmland is circulating, and it already has the support of notable food policy and climate justice organizations.

Canada is hemorrhaging farmers. Recent reporting shows that 40% of Canadian farm operators plan to retire over the next decade. The majority don’t have a succession plan.

The number one barrier facing new farmers is access to farmland. By 2033, a shortfall of 24,000 general farm, nursery and greenhouse workers is expected to emerge. Young farmers and Indigenous land stewards cannot grow, harvest, and produce food without secure land access. Black, Indigenous, and Farmers of Colour are particularly disadvantaged by generations of discriminatory and colonial policies that continue to dispossess them of land.

Massive investment firms are pushing the cost of land out of reach. The cost of farmland is skewed by the interests of investment firms who are purchasing land far above market rate. In Saskatchewan alone, large investors and absentee landlords have purchased a million acres of farmland in the last 20 years – an area almost 18 times the size of Saskatoon. These purchases have driven up the cost of farmland by an average of 16% annually. Average values for cultivated farmland in Ontario increased by 19.4% in 2022. Under these conditions, farmers cannot afford to farm. The National Farmers Union is calling on the Federal government to stop allowing predatory investment firms to gamble with Canada’s food system.

“We know what happens when land speculators are allowed to run rampant,” says Rav Singh, Youth Advisor for NFU-Ontario. “It was land speculators who bought up Greenbelt farmland with the help of the Ford government, planning to pave it over and build high-end townhouses. Investment companies should not have the power to gamble with the future of farming.”

“Our governments must pull the emergency brake and keep farmland in farmers’ hands,” says Jessie MacInnis, NFU Youth President. “We need land legislation that favours the next generation of farmers, not investment firms. The National Farmers Union demands that governments enact a total ban on investor ownership of farmland.”