Wednesday, May 27, 2015

BC Government is failing to protect BC farmland

Dear Friends,

Today in the BC Legislature I introduced critical legislation to protect the Agricultural Land Reserve.

This Bill demonstrates what is needed to stop the rampant misuse of prime farmland that is happening at this very moment.

Thousands of hectares of ALR land have been purchased by a conglomerate of large foreign corporations. The goal is to use the land for a dubious carbon sequestration scheme that will "offset" their polluting practices ...and make it impossible for the land to be used for agricultural production.

I am all for tree-planting but there is more than a million hectares on our timber harvesting land base that needs to be reforested right now.

Planting trees on farmland for carbon offset programs is a loophole in the ALR that needs to be closed by legislation.

The Agricultural Land Commission’s mandate is to oversee and protect the ALR while encouraging food production. Currently, thousands of hectares of food lands are being planted with trees — contradicting the ALC’s mandate.

This is an urgent issue that requires immediate action. At a time when there are serious droughts due to climate change in California and Washington, it has never been more important to protect our farmland and to bring it into production.

If the Protecting Agricultural Lands Act is passed, then the ALC will have the power to examine all ALR land use and can intervene when breaches occur. This act will bring security and accountability to a Ministry that desperately needs it.

Over 10,500 hectares of ALR land is being used for carbon offset schemes by one offshore corporation — and they don’t plan on stopping — in fact, this company has admitted to already planting 7 million trees on ALR land and plans to have 10 million planted by 2016. The B.C. Liberal government fails to see the urgency of this situation; they are dragging their feet.

Only 5 per cent of B.C.’s land is suitable for agriculture, which is why we have the Agricultural Land Reserve. The government isn’t acting quick enough to ensure that our provincial farmland is available for food production and not ruined to support a corporate greenwashing scheme.

The Protecting Agricultural Lands Act would empower the Agricultural Land Commission to better monitor, regulate, and protect B.C.’s precious farmland.

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South



Globe & Mail: B.C. farmland lost to tree planting for carbon credits is a frightening loss

“I think the minister, who has been claiming to have control over this file, has no idea what’s going on,” she said. “I addressed this [issue] three times in the legislature. First time he denied there was a problem. Then we found out the problem was bigger than anyone expected. The next answer was that the Agricultural Land Commission had the tools to deal with the problem. Now we see by that correspondence that they don’t have the tools to deal with the problem. Obviously the government needs to get more serious about this.”

Question Period in BC Legislature: