Appendix C:
Interconnections of agriculture in the ALR:
Protecting land for agriculture is only one piece of the puzzle. There are several other factors that impact our farmland and the future of farming in BC, and the following are some examples.

Economic Viability:
Statistics Canada figures indicate that realized net income for BC farmers and ranchers has been an unprecedented four consecutive years of negative net farm income. In 2009 net farm income was negative 226 million, which was preceded by negative farm income of $280 million, $142 million, and $75 million in the previous three years1. All indications are that improvements have not been made to these numbers in 2010. Compared to the first quarter in 2009, the net farm income for 2010 has plummeted 12.3 percent.

Land supply and price:
Land supply within the ALR is an issue for the continuation of farming in BC. As urbanization and development has put pressure on the removal of farmland from the ALR, farmers are left to compete with each other for farmland driving prices up. The situation has been further exacerbated by land speculators – which have driven land prices to a point where they are significantly impacting production decisions. Many farmers are facing significant debt loads as a result of land costs being driven to between $40,000 and $100,000 per hectare. Land prices are significantly changing the face of farming in BC. It impacts who can afford to buy the land and what the land will be used for. Some parcels of land in the Fraser Valley are being converted to rural residential use – large houses on ALR land without any agriculture.

Urbanization:
In addition to impacting land supply, urbanization has also put significant pressures on the ALR in terms of imposing major limitations on existing farm practices. The close proximity of farmers to their urban neighbours has increased the complaints around normal farm practices, with objections to normal farm noises, farm smells, and the visual elements of farming. While the Farm Practices Protection Act has helped to mitigate these complaints, significant pressures continue.

Regulatory framework:
Federal, provincial, regional, municipal regulations all impact agriculture‟s ability to farm on the ALR. The cumulative effect of varying regulations and policies are beginning to raise serious questions about whether farmers and ranchers can even continue to farm on the ALR. Over the past number of months alone, the BCAC has responded to a number of government initiatives at the federal, provincial and local levels that could have wide-ranging consequences for farmers and ranchers.
1 Source: http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/agri02j-eng.htm

1) Species at Risk Act (federal)
This federal act has the potential to restrict the uses of productive farmland in order to protect an endangered species. For example, current proposals for the Nooksack Dace recovery strategies would require landowners to set aside 30 meters of land on each side of the stream to protect what has been determined to be critical habitat for this fish species. Farmers and ranchers support preserving endangered species, but they are looking for a reasonable approach that will allow them to continue farming and/or direct financial compensation for the loss of productive farmland.

2) Migratory Birds Convention Act (federal)
Under current proposals, this federal act would require farmers to obtain permits for normal farm activities such as planting, cultivating, and harvesting to prevent or minimise the incidences of incidental takes of migratory bird species.

3) Water Act Modernization (provincial)
The province currently reviewing the Water Act; some of the potential changes being discussed are the elimination of historic water rights under the FITFIR principle and regulating the usage of ground water. Farmers are more than willing to conserve but without water ALR land cannot be used to grow crops or raise livestock, and farmers and ranchers may not be able to bear the extra costs to access water.

4) Zero Net Deforestation Act (provincial)
The Act has entrenched zero net deforestation in legislation with a target date of 2015 through voluntary actions. Agriculture is very concerned that the voluntary approach may change if the government is not able to meet its legislated target by 2015. There is concern that the act may impose restrictions on farmers to clear or develop ALR land for food, forage or other agricultural production.

5) Metro Vancouver/West Coast Reduction (local)
As just one example of a local government imposing unnecessary restrictions on a company providing a critical service for the agriculture sector, the BC Environmental Appeal Board ruled in March 2010 that it was “not reasonable” for Metro Vancouver to have made the permit amendments to West Coast Reduction‟s air permit. Despite the ruling, Metro Vancouver continues to work on ways to impose additional requirements for odour control on the company.