April 7, 2014 6:02 pm
Updated: April 8, 2014 1:41 pm

B.C. farmers rally against changes to Agricultural Land Reserve in Victoria


B.C. farmers gathered at B.C. Legislature in Victoria today to voice their concerns about changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Farmers brought a cornucopia of food products to deliver to MLA and Energy Minister Bill Bennett to show what’s being grown in his backyard.

“We are here because we want to kill Bill 24,” said Oliver Egan, a farmer from Windermere, B.C. “We feel that it is bad for active farmers and it will pull farmland out of the ALR.”

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Calling themselves “real farmers,” they flew to Victoria with food grown in the Kootenays to confront Bennett, who has been instrumental in introducing Bill 24 that would substantially change the province’s rules around the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“The proposed changes are not in the farmers’ best interest. As a farmer from the area and a stakeholder, we have not been consulted,” says dairy farmer Erin Harris.

“We are dependent upon rental land that is protected by the Agricultural Land Reserve.”

READ MORE: Is the sky falling on B.C.’s agricultural land?

Last month, the British Columbia government has proposed changes to the province’s Agricultural Land Commission that opens the door to value-added processing and potential oil and gas development.

Bennett said the changes will help farmers increase incomes.

The changes would also divide the land reserve into two zones.

In Zone 1, that includes Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Okanagan, the commission would focus on protecting farmland. In Zone 2, which would cover every other region of the province, farmers would have more flexibility in land use.

READ MORE: B.C. proposes big changes to land reserve

With files from the Canadian Press

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