Letter: Let marijuana growth in ALR

How much more unproductive land do we want to accumulate in the ALR?

(THE NEWS/files) Andrew Pozsar listened to the neighbours when they said they didn’t want a chicken barn on 250th Street.

Editor, The News:

Re: Letter: Farmland should be protected for food.

I strongly believe that we should allow marijuana production on our farmlands.

Let me give you a brief background. I grew up on a chicken farm, both of my parents were full-time farmers and all four of my grandparents were also full-time farmers. I know and understand farming.

About 10 years ago, my wife purchased ALR land in Maple Ridge for the purpose of us starting a poultry farm operation.

After years of planning, in 2017, we were ready to start farming. But due to extreme resistance from the residential neighbours, we were forced to give up our farming plans.

Current city bylaws on our farm prevent the farming of mink, mushroom, swine or marijuana. We are unable to do poultry farming, also.

Due to extremely poor soil and drainage conditions, we cannot do any soil-based agriculture. The relatively small size of the property (2.4 acres ) also prevents us from any other type of farming.

The letter suggests that “the Agricultural Land reserve must be preserved and protected for growing traditional farm crops only, such as tomatoes, peppers and the like.”

I’d like to bring up the following stats.

In B.C., we have approx. 47,000 sq. km of ALR land, of which 10 per cent does 85 per cent of the production.

Alternatively, 90 per cent of the ALR lands in B.C. produce next to nothing.

In Maple Ridge, many of these ALR lands, including my wife’s property, was never farmed, for various reasons, such as: poor soil and drainage conditions, size of the parcels, lack of agricultural buffer, zoning, bylaw restrictions.

Furthermore, about 24 per cent of all agricultural activities in Maple Ridge take place outside of the ALR.

And, 70 per cent of the farmers in Maple Ridge make less then $10,000 a year in gross farm income.

In Maple Ridge, 80 per cent of the farmers make less then $25,000 a year in gross farm income.

So it is imperative that the ALR is protected?

My question is, why?

What is the end game? How much more unproductive land do we want to accumulate in the ALR?

This is a complete waste. If the land is not farmable, it should not be called farmland and it should not be in the ALR.

Growing marijuana would allow local farmers to put their land into production and earn a decent living.

Other than poultry, dairy and eggs, B.C. agriculture competes globally with countries like the U.S., Mexico and China.

These agricultural products are often a better quality at better price. Therefore, profitable farming is getting increasingly more difficult.

I’m not suggesting that blueberry farms should be destroyed to give way to the production of marijuana, I’m simply pointing out that some of the 90 per cent of unfarmed ALR lands could be put to production, by growing marijuana.

Andrew Pozsar

Maple Ridge

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