Dozens of upset farmers and ranchers rallied at the Legislature in Victoria on Monday to mark Agriculture Day, demanding that John Horgan and Agriculture Minister Lana Popham repeal Bill 52. This damaging legislation is hurting British Columbian farmers around the province who are just trying to make ends meet and run a successful business.
Instead of recognizing farmers as an integral part of the fabric of BC, our provincial government continues to dismiss legitimate concerns. In the Legislature, Minister Popham rejected the process of consultation had been mismanaged and showed no signs of backing down on her destructive policies.
The recent changes create barriers for entry-level farmers, add financial burdens for current farmers, insecurity for retiring farmers and trample on the rights of existing farmers. The many restrictions and red tape affecting land use include a new legal interpretation for the words ‘persons’ which limits any changes to the ALR to only governments such as municipalities, regional districts or First Nations.
Farmers in essence are not recognized as persons under the new legislation and cannot apply to the ALR for any exclusion.
Multi-generational farming families are now also being told they cannot build new construction on ALR land, like a second home for children that want to continue farming on the family farm. While the NDP try and justify it, saying it wants to prevent monster homes from encroaching on farmland, really it seems this government is more concerned with land use issues than helping the people we depend on to grow our food.
We must also recognize the immense value of the business of farming and British Columbians they serve. Small businesses farming generate more than an income for farmers, they create jobs, tourism, and provide the public with direct opportunities to interact with and experience farms and farm-fresh produce. Without these – the fabric of our communities changes.
There is no farm without the farmer, and the government should be encouraging successful farming rather than regulation them into oblivion.