Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Save the Agricultural Land Reserve


     In the 1960's and 70's we in British Columbia lost thousands of acres of prime farmland each year to the development of subdivisions, shopping centres and industry.  In 1972 Dave Barret and the New Democratic Party were elected for the first time and in 1973 they created the "Agricultural Land Reserve" in an effort to save our remaining farmland.  Today, our farmland is disappearing.  Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal Party who support oil fracking and oil tanker traffic on our west coast are not only allowing the development of our farmland but intending to dismantle the ALR under the guise of modernization (Dismantle the ALR).  Existing rules allow the development of our farmland such as the Blenheim Flats (the last remaining ALR in Vancouver) into massive estates with mansions, tennis courts, swimming pools, 5 car garages ...  This is also occurring in Richmond, Ladner and Delta.  In Richmond prime farmland is being used as a toxic dump site by developers (Farm vigil actually 318 days and counting).

     With the present day focus on the oil and gas industry in B.C the Liberal government and Energy Minister Bill Bennett (how appropriate - inside joke for older folks) are attempting to dismantle the ALR to allow for among other things oil and gas development (ALC Stop Work Order).  The Liberal government wants to put the Agricultural Land Commission, an autonomous, independent crown agency which makes decisions regarding agricultural land use under the control of the ministry of agriculture (ALC Reform). 
     A few years ago the Fraser Institute (an ultra right wing B.C organization) commissioned a report calling for an end to the Agricultural Land Reserve.  The report suggested that locally produced food was impractical and  that food could be produced elsewhere at a lower cost where environmental laws were not so restrictive and the lack of labour laws allowed for the cheap production of food.  

     The local production of my food is vitally important to me and I think to most of you.  I want to support my local farmer and to know how my food is produced.  I want to know if it is genetically modified and treated with agrochemicals.  I don't want my food produced thousands of miles away where farm workers are exploited and crops are grown unnaturally with agrochemicals and genetic modification.  I don't want to contribute to global warming through the burning of fossil fuels needed to transport food long distances.  


     What can we do to support local food production?  First, grow our own food.  Whether we have land, are part of a community garden or guerilla garden we can produce some of our own food.  It always amazes me how much food you can produce on a small portion of land.  This year I started growing food for the Vancouver Food Bank on a very small urban farm and was constantly amazed at the hundreds of pounds of produce we were able to produce.  Secondly, support your local farmer (and beekeeper).  In Vancouver as in other major cities farmer markets are popping up at an increasing rate every year and stores like Whole Foods  are making an effort to sell locally produced, organic, non genetically modified foods.  Third, sign this petition here to support our disappearing farmland and lastly at our next election vote for a party that wants to strengthen the Agricultural Land Reserve and preserve our endangered farmland (definitely not the Liberal Party - Liberals propose ALC Reform).

     I have witnessed the rise of power of the corporate elite through the 1960's, followed by the growth of labour power and environmental awareness in the 70's and the subsequent movement towards worldwide corporate amalgamation and control.  Eric Blair (George Orwell) professed in his novel Nineteen Eighty Four published in 1949 that the world would be controlled by a single entity, "Big Brother".  He foresaw the amalgamation of corporations (30 years ago 20 major corporations controlled 80% of the food production in North America - now the control is owned by 4 corporations all contemplating amalgamation) and the subsequent control of government.  We all have witnessed the increasing control major corporations wield on governments through campaign contributions and the constant interchange of personnel (Monsanto).  Let's put the power of food production back into the hands of the people.
     Please sign the petition to support local farmers and vote for a political party that supports local food production.  For more information regarding the future of the Agricultural Land Reserve go to Farm Watch BC.


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