Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)


The Province recognizes the importance of protecting agricultural land, supporting economic viability and managing growth. In 2017, the government released updated provincial land use plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) which contain new Agricultural System policies and references. The goal is to consistently protect farmland across the GGH and support the viability of the agri-food sector.

Agricultural System Resources

These resources help to implement the Agricultural System:

  1. Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe;
  2. Agricultural System Portal;
  3. Agricultural Land Base Map;
  4. Summary of the Agricultural System and Natural Heritage System Policies in Ontario's Provincial Plans;
  5. Environmental Registry Posting for the Agricultural System (013-0968);
  6. To download GIS data of the agricultural land base, go to Land Information Ontario

Economic Development Resource

As an additional resource to implement the Agricultural System, OMAFRA's Agriculture Economic Development: A Resource Guide for Communities publication helps economic development and land use planning practitioners, municipal councils and community leaders foster the economic prosperity and viability of the agri-food sector. An extended version of this resource guide is available on request in English and French from OMAFRA's Agricultural Information Contact Centre.

Mapping Explained

OMAFRA's methodology for mapping the agricultural land base is described in the implementation procedures document. Additional technical detail is available in the Agricultural System Mapping Method report. This report is available on request in English and French from the Agricultural Information Contact Centre.

This figure shows the Draft Agricultural Land Base mapping for the area of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Settlement areas are also shown on the map.

Agricultural land base map

May be refined or augmented by municipalities, consistent with the implementation procedures, when they undertake their comprehensive official plan reviews.

Implementation procedures

Help municipalities make informed land use planning and economic development decisions that implement provincial land use plan policies and strengthen the agri-food sector across the GGH.

Agricultural System Portal

  • More than 60 maps on agricultural production, land use, infrastructure, agri-food assets and services.
  • Identifies clusters of agri-food activity and to promote economic growth of the sector.
  • Can be used in Agricultural Impact Assessments.
  • Will be updated as new information is added.
  • Additional agricultural information is available in the Agricultural Information Atlas.

FAQs on the Agricultural System

What is an Agricultural System?

  • The Province has identified an Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It aims to protect a continuous, productive land base for agriculture across municipalities, as well as provide support for the agri-food supply chain the sector depends on.
  • The development of an Agricultural System for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the recommendations that came out of the Coordinated Plan Review for the four provincial land use plans.
  • The system is comprised of two components, the agricultural land base and the agri-food network.
  • The agricultural land base consists of prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas, and rural lands that together create a continuous productive land base for agriculture. This mapping can be refined when municipalities update their official plans.
  • The agri-food network includes regional infrastructure and transportation networks, on-farm buildings and infrastructure, agricultural services, farm markets, distributors and primary processing, and vibrant, agriculture-supportive communities that are important to the viability of the agri-food sector.

The Agricultural System approach recognizes that land use planning alone cannot address all of the challenges facing agriculture. Protecting the agricultural land base is also linked to economic development and access to a robust agri-food network (e.g. cold storage facilities, abattoirs, food processors, grain dryers, distribution centres).

Who did OMAFRA consult with and how?

  • To develop the Agricultural System approach, OMAFRA consulted with municipalities, Indigenous communities, agricultural organizations, the development sectors, environmental groups and a "sounding board" group, through various means such as open houses, webinars, meetings, discussions with First Nations and Métis communities and a 92 day environmental registry posting.

How does the Agricultural System tie in with the overall goal to protect farmland in the Greater Golden Horseshoe?

  • The province, municipalities and other stakeholders will collaborate to implement Agricultural System policies, including identifying and protecting a continuous, productive land base for agriculture across municipalities and supporting the agri-food supply chain the sector depends on.

Are there plans to expand the Agricultural System into other areas of the province?

  • At this time, the Agricultural System is being implemented in the GGH. Communities outside the GGH may consider taking an Agricultural System approach in their area as a best practice.

Quick Tips for Using the Agricultural System Portal

What information does this portal contain?

  • The portal displays crop production and livestock production densities, plus a wide range of infrastructure such as transportation infrastructure and drainage, as well as services such as meat processors. Agri-food infrastructure and assets are mapped such as grain elevators. The origin of the data for each mapping layer is stated in parentheses in the legend. The main sources of data are: the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA), Statistics Canada (Census of Agriculture), OMAFRA, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

How can users of the portal explore the information they are interested in?

  • The Google Chrome internet browser is recommended for viewing the portal.
  • The portal and layers may take several minutes to load so please be patient.
  • The portal contains additional user tips on the left side of the screen.

Is it possible to print maps and legends from the portal?

  • Yes, all map layers and combinations of layers can be printed or saved as a PDF.
  • Legends can be viewed by clicking on the legend button (looks like a bulleted list). A snipping tool can be taken to capture the legend and add it to maps.

How do I obtain data from the portal?

  • Municipalities may obtain detailed asset mapping data from the GHFFA.
  • Some of the data used is open data and specific requests can be made to OMAFRA.
  • Other requests may be made to Statistics Canada and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 14 June 2017
Last Reviewed: 09 February 2018