B.C. consulting with farmers

Consultations to help farming families earn a better living and have more opportunities to use their land

The Ministry of Agriculture say they have begun consultations with B.C. farmers to help farming families earn a better living and have more opportunities to use their land.

The consultations with B.C. farmers will inform the drafting of regulations related to Bill 24. Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick recently met in Richmond with representatives from the B.C. Agriculture Council (BCAC), the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to discuss the consultation process. Based on their feedback, 11 questions were identified as key areas for consultation. The questions focus on identifying what steps can be taken to balance the desire to protect valuable farmland and further support farming families and the farming sector. The 11 questions to be included in the consultation are listed in the attached backgrounder.

In the coming weeks, senior ministry officials will host stakeholder consultations in each of the six regions of the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and in addition to these meetings provide British Columbians an opportunity to review the discussion paper and submit their ideas by Aug. 22, 2014, at: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/landreserve or directly via Canada Post.

At the close of the consultations, the input from the regional meetings and website will be summarized and presented by Letnick to the minister’s reference group consisting of the B.C. Agriculture Council, UBCM and ALC representatives for further comment and discussion, before being presented to government for consideration.

ALC chair, Richard Bullock says, “Discussion with farmers and ranchers throughout the province is an important step in the process of updating the ALR regulations. I look forward to hearing from those ALR stakeholders on how they believe changes can enhance farm and ranch businesses and strengthen the protection of the land base that is essential to sustainable agriculture in the long term.”

A complete copy of the discussion paper and background that will be presented at stakeholder meetings is available at: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/landreserveand includes additional context related to 11 questions, in addition to these specific questions, the ministry is also seeking any additional comments or ideas related to the development of new regulations.

Comments can also be submitted by mail at: ALR Reg Consultation, PO Box 9120, Stn. Provincial Government, Victoria, B.C., V8W 9B4.