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Over the last year and a half in Perth County we have had the surplus farm house issue visited twice. Most recently about a month ago county council decide to turn the motion down for the second time. The issue we divide people easier than picking your favorite hockey team. I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer but my problem is if it has been defeated twice why in after only a month of being defeated is it back on the table. This almost feels like a federal election. Democercy has to be considered some where along the line perhaps we have to have the best 3 out of 5. In tough economic times does our elected people have nothing better to do. It is like the dog that has chased a cat up the tree and won't move until it comes down(alot of wasted energy and resources for no reason). Anyway just wanting to hear other thoughts on the severance of surplus farm houses. Yes or No

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I vote yes....as farms get larger due to the economic realities...it leaves farmers with vacant houses that you really can't rent.
They will either be bulldozed or can be sold to people who want to live in the country.

I think that having people living in the rural area is preferable to having vast areas with no people...schools close, businesses suffer...

The realities of commodity cash crop agriculture means you need to reach a certain size to survive. 1 family for every 100 acres ended 25 years ago...some people just did not get the message.
I vote 'no' to surplus farm houses.

Quit using this opportunity to use the "surplus farmhouse" to generate increased cash to pay down on the next farm. A few examples have been the 100 ac farm that sold for $200,000. They turn around and re-sell the house along with 2-4 acres for the same price as a house in town - $125,000. Meanwhile a young person would have bought the farm and lived in the house with the opportunity to farm the land immediately or maybe rent the land out for a few years and down the road crop it themselves.
Also - if we want to allow severances of surplus farmhouses - be prepared for the influx of complaints about the noise, smell, and dust from our normal practices on our farms. Also be prepared for increased trespassing and "human pollution" (garbage) from non-farmers who do not understand nor care that the crop they are damaging is our paycheck.
Having the farm rented out to a farmer instead of having the house severed could also allow more cash freed up for the farmer to invest in more productive assets. When the person lives in the house and owns the land (rent out the land) they may also take more interest in cleaning up and not trespassing in our crops.
Just because you farm does not mean you "need" to own the land.
We need more residents living along side us to support the schools and community. But if we segregate ourselves too much we will be all alone when it comes to needing help.
I think it should be based on how long the particular farmer has farmed the land. In my case my parents own a 200 acre farm, thats all that is left after downsizing 10 yrs ago. Dad has farmed the 200 acres for over 40yrs. With the new laws in place now he is not allowed to severe a 1 acre building lot for retirement. The only way this can be done is by severing 100 acres from the 200. You would figure after 40 yrs of farming that land my dad would have a choice. I want to build a new house on the farm and get back closer to the farm and possibly start farming again. My point is that these municipalities overstep their boundaries in dictating what farmers can do. I do understand the cons of being allowed to severe or sell off "surplus" farm houses. Perhaps if there was more control in the past we this wouldnt be an issue today.
I just read Wayne Blacks reply and I have to agree with him as well. So I guess Iam on the fence with this one.
After giving this more thought another question arises:
What is the land considered when the owner sells the remaining land after severing the "surplus farmhouse"?

Using Farmer Andrew as an example and Beginning Buyer Wayne.
Andrew crops 500 acres. He purchases another 100 acres and severs off the "surplus farmhouse" and 3 acres because he already has three other houses.
Ten years down the road Andrew starts to downsize and finds that the 97 acres is "kinda-outta the way". So he sells the 97 acres to Wayne. Wayne lives in town and crops the land because he can not build a house on the 97 acres even though Wayne does not have any "surplus farm houses". Wayne can build a shed and barn but no house.
When Andrew bought the farm, the house was considered surplus. But what is the house considered for the next buyer of the land?
Necessary... and definitely NOT surplus.
Using Frank's position you can still severe the farm into two 100 ac parcels and build a new house on one. His father can then live "rent free" in the house (as "rent free" as "free" can be). There are ways around some situations.
I'm with Roadrunner on this one.......

If you have to deal with a number of rental farm houses, you eventually develop a bias and see the inability to sever as a short sighted policy that will eventually cost the community dearly. Here are my points (and there is a counter point to each, but I'll let someone else provide that).

1. The pool of "renters" is not great right now. If you don't have a mortgage at these rates, there is a problem. Bad debt, bad actors, bad news. Can you say "grow op"?

2. Even a well maintained century farmhouse is ready to bulldoze after 10 to 15 years of renting. The community loses the opportunity to have motivated owners who will build up the assessment value and help cover the cost of snow removal and other services. Schools and churches die for lack of bodies who help build community.
3. The arguement that it's better to have non-farmers own the whole farm and rent out the land is flawed. A lot of rental ground is mined for nutrients and treated poorly. If a farmer owns the land, he protects it from erosion, invests in tile, manages the woodlot. I have purchased farms that were rented for many years and it's not pretty.

I don't agree with creating new lots, but existing houses should be allowed to be severed with a sensible amount of land - maybe 5 acres. The idea that non-farm residents will be a nuisance is just wrong. We need them in our communities. The minimum distance separation rules have eliminated the livestock issue from most jurisdictions. If we can't farm in a way that is compatible with inhabitation, then what are we doing living there??

I'm ready to knock down 2 or 3 houses and they'll never be replaced. All that tax assessment lost. All that communinity revitalization foregone. Mile after mile of road with no humans. And we wonder why people don't understand agriculture.

I agree Peter - easy to counter point. I am just going to attack one though because this came up at a recent County meeting.
As for no one to support the schools & local stores. I live in the country and it is a 15-20 minute drive to the grocery store - be it Lucknow, Goderich, Clinton, Blyth, Wingham. For another 20 minute drive (because I am already in the car) I can be in Kitchener - how does that support the local town?
Also - how many stores, arenas, and community centres are in the country on the backroads? Locally we have at least three schools that are in the country but each school it supplied with students from three villages (ie. Brookside - Dungannon, Port Albert, Kingsbridge, St. Helens).
Whereas Blyth, for example, has 400 years worth of expansion available within the town (based on current data from the Planning Dept. as required by the Province of Ontario). Within the village is an arena, community centre, school (until the School Board closes it), library, fire hall, among other services.
Also - I will counterpoint this one - by tearing down the houses as you propose Peter, you can still sell the farm as a 100 ac parcel that will allow a house to be built on it as a retirement home for yourself or for someone else who decides to buy a empty parcel of land to build a new house and start farming. If you severe off the 5 acres - no house can be built on that remaining 95 acres. It is much easier for a new farmer to buy 100 acres to build a house than to buy 95 acres and live in town.
As I stated to the Planning Dept. I am biased since farming is in my blood. We would never allow a farmhouse to be severed off any of our farms. Neither will our neighbours, who are also full time farmers. Three century farms in our block, and not one family will allow farm house severances.
I am thinking about the future of agriculture, not the short term. I do not care about tax revenue for the municipality - I am thinking about agriculture.

Peter Gredig said:
I'm with Roadrunner on this one.......

2. Even a well maintained century farmhouse is ready to bulldoze after 10 to 15 years of renting. The community loses the opportunity to have motivated owners who will build up the assessment value and help cover the cost of snow removal and other services. Schools and churches die for lack of bodies who help build community.
I'm ready to knock down 2 or 3 houses and they'll never be replaced. All that tax assessment lost. All that communinity revitalization foregone. Mile after mile of road with no humans. And we wonder why people don't understand agriculture.

Well said Wayne - it is an issue with two sides and I respect that. You are not the only farmer in the debate though. Still don't see how home ownership threatens agriculture???? Remember, I'm not advocating new lots or houses. We have enough already.
It threatens beginning farmers. I constantly hear that the farms are getting too big for a young person to step out and buy a farm with a house. By allowing severances you limit the number of farms (because two would be merged into one) and you also are forcing the size to become larger. A farmer such as my dad who has four one hundred acre lots could sell one off for a young person to start and have a house. Or he could move to one of the 100 acre lots and build his own house, allowing one of his children to run the "main" operation, with the intent to sell the farm in the future to someone who wants 100 acres with a house. With three children and four one hundred acre lots - each child would have a farm to build a house on. If he severed off the houses - not a single child would be able to live on the farm - until he moved off.
With so many farm operations just north of me (Bruce Cty) asking for 50 acre severances so they can start a small farm - why allow 3 acre severances? There are many examples of 40-60 acre farms that are viable. Not everyone wants to farm 600 or 2000 acres.
It is the same logic as an "expert" stated at a local Source Water meeting - "a livestock farmer NEEDS 300 NU to be viable." Absolutely false. I quickly proved him wrong by saying - tell the dairy farmers who have 75 cows that they are not making money. Tell the young farmers who start with 25 cows that they can not make it (less than 50 ac req'd for NM). Tell the number of dairy goat producers their herds of 250 goats is not profitable (31 NU so you need less than 40 ac for NM).
By allowing severed farmhouses on 3 acre parcels you are shutting the door on some new entrants to the farming industry.
Actions speak louder than words and if we say we want beginning farmers - better step up to the plate or... keep quiet. I am swinging for the fence.
If society wants us to produce more labour intensive crops - the 2000 ac farm will be redundant. How do we move back to the smaller 150 or 200 acre farm if we allow blocks of land to severe the farmhouse?

Peter Gredig said:
Well said Wayne - it is an issue with two sides and I respect that. You are not the only farmer in the debate though. Still don't see how home ownership threatens agriculture???? Remember, I'm not advocating new lots or houses. We have enough already.
Noble thinking. Not sure if it is realistic, but your heart is in the right place.

Think twice and think again,

A short term gain for a long term pain.The severance of a farm house is a temporary solution, it decreases the value of your property. By severing you get a new neighbor, you have to deal with setbacks and minimum distance separation etc. etc. Severing of a house is like applying for a building permit for livestock in a urban setting. Correct where I am wrong.This spring I had a visit from a assesment officer and her view was, never based on her experience dealing with people from both sides of the fence.
Assuming surplus dwellings are allowed, the minimum distance seperation issue is a problem. However, the land owner has the choice of severing that house off. If it will be prohibitive to future livestock operations then the landowner can decide to not sever the house. Albeit by severing a house future land owners are restricted to bulding livestock operations but this lost value will be reflected in the selling price of the farm. If that lands best use is for a livestock operation and severing a house will de-value the property then there is little incentive to sever that house off.

As far as dealing with neighbours the easy solution would be to knock down the house. Unfortunately it can be poor equity stewardship to knock down an existing house that's in good repair.

There are costs to farming with neighbours, there are costs to being a landlord, and there are costs to knocking down houses. I believe we should have policy that allows the landowner to make the decision on what cost they would like to incur,

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