People are invited to an engagement session in Castlegar on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, to have their say on how best to encourage farming and protect farmland throughout British Columbia.
“Helping farmers, protecting farmland and increasing food production are top priorities for our government and we want to continue the momentum we’ve created. It’s driving the success of this sector in our province,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Our government is working hard to expand B.C.’s agriculture industry. We are increasing access to locally grown and raised food, and helping rural communities diversify their economies and create sustainable jobs.”
British Columbians are encouraged to share their insights and opinions on how to address the following challenges:
- supporting farmers and ranchers in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to expand and diversify their businesses;
- helping new or young farmers become established on the land and in business; and
- ensuring there is flexibility for residential options, while prioritizing agriculture in the ALR.
Since there have been recent changes by government to strengthen the ALR and Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the ministry is hosting in-person sessions, along with the ALC, throughout B.C. to discuss the purpose and context of the changes. The sessions will also focus on gathering input from people on the three stated challenges with the goal of supporting B.C. famers and ranchers.
The first five sessions took place on Vancouver Island and in Delta, Dawson Creek, Prince George and Kelowna. Two more meetings are scheduled:
- in Cranbrook on Nov. 5, and
- in Kamloops on Nov. 14
Farmers are facing increased risks and unpredictability related to climate change, rising land prices and pressure to use farmland for non-farm activities. Input is needed so the agriculture industry in B.C. can continue to grow and thrive.
“A healthy agriculture industry is critical to protecting a farmer's most valuable resource – their land, now and for generations to come,” said Jennifer Dyson, chair of the ALC. “I look forward to continuing to hear from farmers and ranchers and everyone who cares about the incredible capacity of B.C.’s agricultural land base to produce a bounty of food and farm products on ways to do so.”
The engagement period runs until Nov. 15, 2019. An engagement summary report will then be prepared and made public.
- The ALR was established in 1973 because thousands of acres of the province’s limited farmland were being lost to development every year.
- The ALR includes 46,159 square kilometres of B.C., which are preserved for agricultural use. This area is equivalent to 5% of B.C.’s total land base.
- The ALR is administered by the ALC, an independent tribunal mandated to preserve and encourage farming on agricultural land.
- The ALC looks at many factors when carrying out its mandate. Each application has its own set of circumstances and is considered on its own merits.
Online feedback can be provided here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/supportingfarmers/
- This engagement session follows the consultation undertaken by government’s ALR Revitalization Committee in 2018. Its final report is available online: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/impact/agricultural-land-reserve-results/