TAYLOR, B.C. — A Taylor farmer is one of nine members of an independent committee announced by the provincial government Thursday that will look at ways to revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Agricultural Land Commission.
Irmi Critcher and her husband Barry are first-generation farmers and own a 1,600-hectare grain and oilseed farm near Taylor. According to a release from the Ministry of Agriculture, the two have been growing wheat, barley, oats, canola, peas, and grass seeds for over 25 years.
Critcher has been the past president of the BC Grain Producer’s Association and has had directors positions on provincial and federal agriculture Industry boards, including the BC Grain Industry Development Council, Investment Ag Foundation and Grain Growers of Canada. She has chaired numerous committees within these associations including Localized Crop Research, Environment and Climate Action Initiatives.
“I am proud and grateful to have attracted British Columbians with the knowledge, expertise, passion and experience that the committee members possess for agriculture,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “The ALR and the ALC are incredibly important to the health and economic well-being of our province’s future, and making it easier and more efficient for the commission to fulfill its mandate of protecting farmland and encouraging farming is a commitment the B.C. government is delivering on.”
The nine-member committee will provide strategic advice, policy guidance, and recommendations on how to help revitalize the ALR and ALC to ensure the provincial goals of preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming and ranching in British Columbia continue to be a priority. The committee will be chaired by Jennifer Dyson, who was appointed to the Agricultural Land Commission in 2008 and served as chair of the Island Panel until 2017.
“As we embark on this consultation, our collective mandate is to ensure that the ALC and agriculture is positioned for the future,” said Dyson.”I am asking that each of our review committee members listen to what is being said, honestly, impartially, professionally and in a principled fashion. I am looking forward to the conversations.”
In the next few months the committee will host regional meetings to hear opinions and feedback directly from the local farming and ranching communities in Fort St. John, Prince George, Abbotsford, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Nanaimo. The group will also publish a consultation paper to seek opinions and feedback on revitalizing the ALR and ALC, as well as opening an online consultation process for public opinion.
The committee will use the input it receives during the consultation process to develop recommendations for the provincial government’s consideration. The recommendations may include changes to the current legislative, regulatory, and administrative framework to revitalize the ALR and the ALC. Any legislative changes that support the revitalization of the commission and the reserve are targeted for late 2018 or early 2019.