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LETTER: Proposed Growing Agritourism Act opens up potential uses

This legislation, if passed, will remove barriers to investment, provide consistency across Ontario’s agri-tourism providers, says president of the Wellington Federation of Agriculture
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GuelphToday received the following letter from Barclay Nap in regard to Agri-Tourism Opportunities on Ontario Farms

Matthew Rae – MPP for Perth-Wellington recently tabled the Growing Agritourism Act, 2024

This legislation, if passed, will remove barriers to investment, provide consistency across Ontario’s agri-tourism providers, and ensure participants are aware of the inherent risks associated with farm activities.

Since the tabling of the new Act, the farming community has been hearing from the general public, asking “what does this mean” and “what exactly is agri-tourism”.
So, what is agri-tourism? Under the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) that is currently being updated to be named the Provincial Planning Statement (PPS) policy, direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development are provided. As a key part of Ontario’s policy-led planning system, this Policy Statement sets the policy foundation for regulating the development and use of land. It also supports the provincial goal to enhance the quality of life for all Ontarians.

From the PPS, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) developed a publication called: The Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas. It is a tool to help municipalities, decision-makers, farmers and others interpret the policies in the provincial policy statement on the uses that are permitted in prime agricultural areas.

The guideline details what on-farm diversified uses are. On-farm diversified uses should be related to agriculture, supportive of agriculture or able to co-exist with agriculture without conflict. On-farm diversified uses are intended to enable farm operators to diversify and supplement their farm income, as well as to accommodate value-added and agri-tourism uses in prime agricultural areas.

Agri-tourism as a form of on-farm diversified use and is defined as "a use, that is limited in area, promotes enjoyment, education, or activities related to the agricultural operation." The main activity on the property must be an agricultural use.

Examples of agri-tourism could be but are not limited to – a farm vacation suite, bed and breakfast, hay rides, petting zoo, farm-themed playground, horse trail rides, corn maze, seasonal events, equine events, wine tasting, retreats, zip lines)

The Wellington Federation of Agriculture (WFA), representing over 1,500 farm business owners in Wellington County, underscores the pivotal role of agriculture in our local economy. Agriculture serves as the backbone of our region's economic vitality and sustains numerous families within our community. The ability for farm business owners to diversify their operations is instrumental in ensuring their financial resilience. The recent Growing Agri-tourism Act provides some support to farm owners to mitigate the risks involved with agri-tourism with liability protections.

To understand agriculture and learn about farming in Ontario please check out Farm and Food Care at The site provides virtual farm tours at or to understand food and farming in Ontario check out The Real dirt on Farming publication that answers the question around current societal, climate and health questions in farming.

If you are interested in what the WFA does, please check out our website at

Barclay Nap, president, Wellington Federation of Agriculture