Nelson, Earth Day, April 24, 2014
Dear Premier Clark:
The proposed changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in Bill 24, don't take into account that the ALR is just one leg of what should have been a two prong approach to agriculture from the start. While the ALR mostly succeeded in protecting our farm land, it did nothing for BC farmers, who for decades have faced unfair competition from heavily subsidized imports, while both federal and provincial governments have looked the other way.
As a result the average BC farmer is now almost 60 years old, young farmers cannot afford to take over their farms, and a lot of our fertile land lies fallow. BC grows less than than half of its own food needs, and in the Kootenays a shocking 97% of what we eat needs to be trucked in,. Many Kootenay farmers can only keep farming thanks to the support of an off farm income.
The prolonged drought in California and the forecast effects of climate change have made supporting local agriculture more important than ever. We agree that the ALR needs an update, but positive change comes from consultation, common sense and cooperation, not from partisan politics.
Hard working farm families deserve to make a decent living again. Young farmers need access to quality education and affordable farm land. A revived BC agriculture will stimulate our economy, create good jobs all over the province and give us the security of an abundant local food supply.
Greens support the local politicians of the Kootenays and Boundary in urging the government to delay passage of Bill 24, which proposes changes to the ALR that would make a bad situation even worse. Instead, let's work together, protect both farmers and farm land, and make BC agriculture thrive again.
Sjeng Derkx , chair, Nelson-Creston Greens