Farmers in BC are saying no to the proposed Bill 24 changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Please help get the word out and support the movement through social media. Post your #felfie on twitter, instagram and facebook. Hashtag: #farmers4alr #youngagrarians #felfie #notobill24
At a time when the ALR needs proactive changes that would enable more new farmers to access it, the BC Government is opening it up to non-agricultural use by industry. Those of us working on new farmer issues dream of what proactive measures could be taken to have more ALR land farmed. Since BC has the highest land values in Canada, could it be possible to take ALR land out of speculation, thereby making it more affordable for new farmers? Could it be possible on parcels over a certain size to allow for more than one main dwelling so that multiple families / farmers could live and work the land, and allow for multiple farm businesses to operate? This could be invaluable in areas where the land parcels are generally bigger – like in Northern BC where the land values are lower per acre. Instead, what is on the table now is the removal of almost 90% of the land protected under the Agricultural Land Commission. These are the proposed changes:
Bill 24, which is now going into its 2nd reading, will split the ALR into a two zone system. Zone 1 which is concentrated in the South of BC where the land is the most expensive per acre and the revenues from agriculture are the highest (Lower Mainland accounts for 4.5% of total Agricultural GDP in Canada) and Zone 2. Zone 2 includes the Kootenays and everything up and North in BC. The drive behind this is to effectively ‘deregulate’ land in BC that is standing in the way of industry access (read: oil and gas industry pressures). Ironically, the land would retain its agricultural status, but industry operating on it would still have the tax benefit of operating on agricultural land.
I have been working for the past 2.5 years to build the Young Agrarians network with a dedicated group of young, new, established farmers and farm support organizations. It makes me sad to see farmland being disregarded this way by our provincial government. With the developing drought conditions in California, the rising cost of food, the impacts of climate change globally – the most important thing these days, I believe – is to protect our basic resource needs through land management practices that support healthy foodsheds. We need land sanctioned for these purposes, from First Nations land protection and respect for traditional wild food zones, to parkland conservation (which is also now under threat under Bill 4), to protecting our coast from tankers and so-on – its time for us, the people of BC to be HEARD by our government. So let’s get creative: send us your #felfie, #farmers4alr, #youngagrarians. Even if your not actively farming or a farmer, please show your support by posting your #farmers4alr #iloveALRbc photo on social media.
For more information and to take action, please check out the BC Food Systems Network website: http://bcfsn.org/what-we-do/protecting-the-agriculture-land-reserve/
To read more about how industry would benefit check out this Vancouver Sun article: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Friday+April+Farm+changes+misguided/9697648/story.html