I am writing to add my voice to the chorus of British Columbians strongly opposed to Bill 24.
Farmland is a precious and irreplaceable commodity. In fact, it is not a commodity; it could be more accurately called a birthright of British Columbians. We live in a province blessed with many natural resources: lakes, forests, minerals, gas and oil, fish, farmland. Farmland is limited in this mountainous province.
Unlike oil and gas, it is, or should be, renewable and inheritable from one generation to the next.
Agricultural land, already classified as such due to the foresight of politicians and the public in the 1970s, does not need to be re-classified to meet the oil and gas or real estate industries’ demands. It is non-transferable. It exists where geologic processes created it over thousands of years.
We as a culture must learn to operate our other (non-farm) businesses around agricultural land.
We must have the option to grow more food in this province. It is unconscionable to impair the ability of future generations to feed themselves.
A front-page article in The Province on April 30 clearly states that BC farmland will be in ever-greater demand as global food shortages and the effects of climate change become more serious. Foreign companies, pension funds and other investors are buying up BC farmland for agricultural purposes because they realize that agriculturally-productive land is in limited supply globally.
Governments of various political stripes have upheld the protection of farmland under the Agricultural Land Reserve since the introduction of the ALR in the early 1970s.
Changing the protection of agricultural land was not part of the BC Liberals’ last election platform and as the majority of farmers are now saying publicly, it was not requested by them, either. Reviews of historical requests to remove land made to the Agricultural Land Commission indicate that on a case-by-case basis, some land has been removed at the request of farmers or non-farmers. The majority of requests made to remove land from the ALR was made by non-farmers.
We need to ensure that farmland is protected at least as well as it currently is in this province.