British Columbians, indeed people anywhere, need to eat. Relatively few of us worry about where our food comes from. Most of us buy it from stores and our main concern is the price.
There is a fast-growing movement to buy local food, but our production is limited. Many things we think we need can’t be grown locally, yet, anyway. Besides, only about about five per cent of the B.C. land base is productive farmland and B.C. is a long way from being self-sufficient food-wise. The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Facilities is currently undertaking a review of provincial services. Although there were reviews of the Agricultural Land Commission and Land Reserve already (Auditor General, 2010, ALC Chair, 2011) the agencies are on this review agenda.
Judging from some comments he made recently, some fear the minister in charge of the review, Honourable Bill Bennett, has both on his hit list. The legislation protecting agricultural land was introduced amidst tremendous opposition by the NDP government in the early 70s. It was by no means perfect. Good land was left out, poor land included, and the impact on some owners of farmland left a lot to be desired. However, the legislation has protected a lot of farmland, and chipping away at it doesn’t bode well for our future good supplies. Because I like to eat, I support the ALR and ALC. Sure they could be improved, but in favour of farms and farmers, not developers, there are alternatives for developers. I am not hopeful though. Too many People in Power (PIPs) consider those who are concerned about the future of our land and water to be alarmists, people-against almost-everything, even eco-terrorists. It was short notice to present to the review panel here yesterday, but there is still a chance for input, written submissions will be accepted until Oct. 16.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.