The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture will be in Cranbrook on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, for a public engagement session on ways to best protect farmland in British Columbia and encourage farming practices.

Residents can provide their thoughts about the topic online, or can register to attend the in-person meeting at the Cranbrook Conference Centre in the Days Inn by Wyndham. Located at 600 Cranbrook Street North, the public meeting will take place from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm.

Cranbrook’s public engagement session is the sixth of seven the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture is holding across the province, with previous events in Delta, Dawson Creek, Prince George, Kelowna and Castlegar. The public engagement will remain open until Friday, November 15, 2019, with the final meeting being held in Kamloops on Thursday, November 14, 2019.

“Helping farmers, protecting farmland and increasing food production are top priorities for our government, and we want to continue the momentum we’ve created – it’s driving the success of this sector in our province,” said Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture.

At the engagement sessions, the Ministry hopes to hear the insights and opinions of local residents about three key challenges:

  1. Supporting farmers and ranchers in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to expand and diversify their businesses
  2. Helping new or young farmers become established on the land and in business
  3. Ensuring there is flexibility for residential options while prioritizing agriculture in the ALR.

“Our government is working hard to expand B.C.’s agriculture industry,” added Popham. “We are increasing access to locally grown and raised food, and helping rural communities diversify their economies and create sustainable jobs.”

The public engagement will be hosted by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to discuss the purpose and the context of some of the recent changes made to the ALR.

“A healthy agriculture industry is critical to protecting a farmer’s most valuable resource – their land, now and for generations to come,” said Jennifer Dyson, Chair of the ALC. “I look forward to continuing to hear from farmers and ranchers and everyone who cares about the incredible capacity of B.C.’s agricultural land base to produce a bounty of food and farm products on ways to do so.”

The ALR was first established in 1973 as thousands of aces of limited farmland around British Columbia was being lost to development every year. Now the ALR includes 46,159 square kilometres preserved for agricultural use, which is about 5% of British Columbia’s total land base.