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Fort St. John

BC Agricultural Critic visits Peace Region to hear farmers’ concerns

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – B.C. Agricultural Critic MLA Ian Paton joined local MLA Dan Davies on a two-day visit to tour the agricultural scene of the Peace Region.

During Paton’s visit, they attended the B.C. Grain Producers’ Annual General Meeting, and a crop tour on Thursday, July 25, followed by a visit with local farmers on Friday, July 26.

Being a farmer himself, Paton shares similar concerns with farmers when it comes to the Agricultural Land Commission; more specifically land rights.

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Paton feels that in order for the industry to thrive into the future, the Government needs to give farmers their land rights back in order for them to make the decisions as to what is best for their own land.

According to Paton, the NDP Government has introduced a couple of bills that prevent farmers from making land decisions.

“The NDP Government has brought two bills forward, last Fall Bill-52 and this was Spring Bill-15. What they’re doing is they’re giving way more control and power to the State, where the Agricultural Land Commission is now controlling what you can do on your farm, the size of house you can build on your farm. They’re starting to turn away the opportunities for farmers to have a second home on the farm… I’m a believer that if you want the next generation to take an active role in the farm, you’ve got to give the family members an opportunity to live on the farm.”

Paton says Bill-15 has taken away the opportunity for landowners, within the Agricultural Land Reserve, to have the ability to go directly to the ALC to make an application to exclude land.

Paton also suggests that Regional Panels need to be reintroduced in order to get an “on-the-ground” look at farming across the Province.