Food production industry is not broken
Editor, The News:
Re: Much Pitt Meadows farmland left fallow (The News, Feb. 6).
The ALR was created to ensure there would be adequate farmland for the future of our provincial population, and the value of this can be easily understood and appreciated.
Since it was instituted in the early ’70s, other than a lower tax rate on the farmable land (note: not the residence and amenities), there was no compensation to those who held the land.
Economically, this encumbered the land as collateral for funding to develop agricultural activity.
It also deprived the owners of fair and equitable appreciation of the value of the land.
For example: an acre of development land for housing will sell for up to 10 times the value of farmland.
In light of the sentiment behind the ALR, which land should be more valuable?
Now there is a study conducted by Kwantlen college to estimate the potential benefit intrinsic in underutilized farmland. (Note: by the estimates of this study, only eight cents of every agri-dollar go to the farmers; the remainder go in a fashion to most industrial production to processing, packaging, distribution, marketing and retail.)
The study was commissioned by Surrey Mayor Diane Watts, ostensibly to capitalize on all the opportunities that underutilized farmland present.
This seems reasonable in an economy that survives on growth and consumption.
But, Watts also says that if you are going to live on ALR land, you have a responsibility to farm that land.
So much for property rights.
And what constitutes farming?
While we value flowers, shrubs and horses, are these activities within the original concept of the need for the preservation of land to presumably produce food stuffs for our local population?
If the powers that be want to preserve land for the growth of food stuffs for our local population, or even for trade and export, let those lands be owned by those powers.
Let them be responsible for those lands – which means the taxpayers will foot the bill for insuring their food supply is managed by bureaucrats.
The food production industry isn’t broken.
Leave it alone.
And when the value of farm production matches the costs of production and produces a fair return for the farmers, the plow and harrow and harvester will be put to work.
In the meantime, fallow land is money in the bank.