Behind the Lines - November 2011

Your name is on a registered land title. Every year, you pay the taxes that the municipality levies. But just what are you allowed to do with that land that you own and what can various levels of government make you do, or not do with that land?

It’s a common enough refrain from frustrated landowners in some circles of rural Ontario these days. They believe that the original land patents conferred on the settlers who cleared farm land, perhaps hundreds of years ago, protect them from incursions by current governments.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources website, “A Crown Patent (sometimes called a Crown Grant or Letters Patent) is a document that is used to transfer Crown land into private ownership, subject to any reservations or conditions that the patent may contain.”

Whether the original land patents confirm special property rights to the registered owner is very contentious. Field Editor Mary Baxter explains the arguments for and against over-riding property owners’ rights in our cover story this month, beginning on page 18. This debate will be carried out in the province’s courts over the next few months, or perhaps years.

Ontario’s ginseng crop of about five million pounds is worth about $100 million a year. Roots planted in a bed this year may be worth much more than that when harvested four years from now if promising markets continue to grow and competitors continue a declining trend. New Crops and Technology editor Mike Mulhern’s story begins on page 34.

Berry growers are worried that funding for a federal program that helps them get access to pesticides for minor crops is being cut. Writer Susan Mann addresses the issue of minor crop competitiveness in the face of across-the-board federal budget cuts in her story, which can be found on page 48.

Other topics addressed in this issue of Better Farming include sustainable food production and fuel economy on lower-emitting new tractors.

Two regular winter-season features return with this issue: UpClose profiles a farmer in an often-overlooked agricultural belt in north-western Ontario. And, if you are up to the task, Crop Scene Investigation provides you with an opportunity to win a wireless weather station: simply try to solve the mystery of Karl’s corn planter. BF


Better Farming - November 2011