Farmers remaining viable is surely an intent of the ALR

Editor:

Re: Big Brother doesn’t know best, Nov. 28

The establishment of the ALR was an enlightened piece of legislation that fortunately escaped to daylight, despite the darkness that is the usual dour, possessive and often questionable politics that is Victoria.

The ALR has not gone through the decades unscathed, yet it still hangs on to the basic intent of its purpose. It was a design for the preservation of the arable land in B.C. and its protected use for the fulfilment of true agriculture in the province.

The challenges have been formidable. Marijuana in greenhouses on the minimally taxed ALR land and 21,000-square-foot residences? Who makes these contrarian calls? Surely they were of the same ilk that is now trying to disguise itself as a new brand of St. George, valiantly seeking to destroy their own new mythical dragons.

The farmers of the land are now being harassed again, for forwarding perfectly reasonable, non-speculative, non-development proposals to keep the use of their land viable as farms. Surely that’s the intent of the ALR and the main mandate of the ALC? Farmers deserve all of the public's support in the face of this new assault.

In perspective, we need to realize what we have and how precious it is. British Columbia is an area of 950,000 square kilometres. That is the same size as all of France and all of Germany combined. Yet only seven per cent of B.C. land is arable. That is not the farmers' nor the politicians' designation. That is nature's call. It is defined by the geology and the geography of our province.

The good news is that the seven per cent that is arable has some of the finest farmland in the world. B.C.'s arable land has quantities and varieties of soil that are the envy of agricultural areas across the planet.

In a couple of short decades, the most important commodities on the planet will be food and water. For some years now, hedge funds have been accumulating farmland for the sole content of portfolios. If you still believe in mutual funds, you can find them based on agricultural land.

The path of global warming could make some of our source areas for good, natural food too warm to grow it. Supply of food as we now know it may not be available. Or, it could be prohibitively expensive.

Perhaps the farmland that we have may be allowed to succumb to more faulty political decisions and just disappear. How much then will people cherish the endless ribbons of fine highways, the shiny greenhouses, the housing towers or the palaces of ego, all developed on fine agricultural land?

The public must not allow the resilient farmers, their skills, their heirs and their farms to disappear. If that happens, the land will be gobbled up by large, monopolistic conglomerates, perhaps not all involved in agriculture. What price food and lifestyle then?

Alan Roberts

 

 

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