BCAC‟s position on the ALR has not changed – the ALR continues to be a vital part of agricultural production in BC. What has changed since BCAC developed its policy statement on the ALR is the regulatory and environmental background that farmers and ranchers operate within every day as they carry out farm practices on the ALR. What has also changed is the economics of farming in BC. 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 incomes of $280 million, $142 million, and $75 million in the previous three years. All indications are that improvements have not been made to these numbers in 2010. Compared to the first quarter in 2009, BC net farm income for 2010 has plummeted 12.3 percent. Further discussion of these and other factors that impact our farmland and the future of farming in BC are outlined in Appendix C.

BCAC ALR Resolution, March 2010:
In the context of these economic and regulatory challenges and at the request of some members, the ALR was discussed at a policy dialogue held in conjunction with the March 2010 BCAC Annual General Meeting. The following resolution was passed on March 17th 2010:
Whereas the preservation of agriculture through the Agricultural Land Reserve serves a compelling public interest;
Whereas there are increasing expectations by government and society that farmers will provide the public benefits of environmental and stewardship functions;
Whereas economic viability in the agricultural sector is a required component of maintaining the long-term integrity of the ALR; and
Whereas there are increasing challenges in maintaining overall farm profitability, managing changing production requirements and ensuring the effective intergenerational transfer of farms and ranches;
Therefore Be It Resolved that a review of the provisions of the Agricultural Land Reserve be undertaken with the express objective of:
1. Enabling the viability of farming and ranching in the Province;
2. continuing to meet the societal goal of preserving suitable agricultural land over the long term; and
3. maximising the agricultural productivity of the ALR
Further Be It Resolved that farm representatives have a direct role in the review process.

Discussion Points for the ALC Review:
It is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers and ranchers to farm in BC and, by extension, in the ALR. The ALR may be preserving farm and ranch land, but British Columbia does not currently have an economic environment whereby farmers and ranchers are, overall, profitable. The only way to truly position the ALC to be able to effectively continue its agricultural land preservation program into the future, is to re-establish the viability of the BC agriculture sector.

1. Issues for direct consideration by the Agricultural Land Commission within its mandate:
a. Expand the definition of agricultural products and farm activities to support a more diversified production base that includes a wider selection of value-added processes, energy generation, and alternative crops.
b. To establish workable criteria for allowing home site severance of ALR lands to help facilitate the intergenerational family transfer of active farming operations. The future of farming in BC will depend our younger generations entering the industry, and we have to find creative ways of making it more economically viable to do so.
c. The ALR continues to hold land unsuitable for agricultural production, and there is productive farmland outside the ALR. Are there further opportunities for identifying these lands with the objective of maximising the agricultural productivity of the ALR?
d. Are there additional planning tools available that would further contribute to the clear separation of urban development and active farmland, with the objective of reducing conflict situations?
e. Part of the ALC‟s mandate to encourage local governments and others to accommodate farming in the ALR in their plans, bylaws and policies, yet it appears that many local governments impose undue restrictions on both primary agriculture and on the many companies that rely on agriculture, both up and down the value chain. Could the ALC be provided with more effective tools to meet this part of its mandate?

2. The Province must give much higher consideration to its public policy of preserving farmland for future generations, and acknowledge its uniqueness and the major restrictions it imposes on existing farmers and ranchers operating within the ALR. While the ALC may not have a direct mandate in the following areas, it is important to have the discussion because these issues are directly linked with farmland preservation.
a. A key priority for the Province in the development of any policy or legislative change that impacts on agriculture must be the economic viability of farming and ranching in the ALR. If this had been established as a priority over the past year, for example, Government would have:
i. Identified access to water for agriculture as a fundamental priority in its initial public consultation documents on modernizing the Water Act. Protecting agricultural land from development is only part of the equation – farmers must also have secure and affordable access to water.
ii. Ensured that any deforestation that occurs for agricultural development would not be included in the province‟s zero net deforestation calculations under this new Act.