TWO years into Premier John Horgan and the NDP’s mandate, B.C. farmers are no better off. In fact, they are struggling more than ever to keep their operations viable thanks to the NDP’s damaging legislation and increased costs to doing business, say the B.C. Liberals.
They say that the Premier has let his activist Agriculture Minister Lana Popham put forward Bills 15 and 52, which have stripped farmers of their rights and given the government more control than ever over agricultural land and the livelihoods of those who work on it.
“In passing these destructive bills, the message that the NDP has driven home to B.C. farmers is clear: we value your land, not you,” says B.C. Liberal Agriculture Co-Critic Ian Paton, MLA for Delta South.
Bill 52 limits the size of houses that farmers are allowed to build on their land and forces farmers to receive the approval of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to construct any additional structures. Bill 15 removes a farmer’s right to apply to the ALC for exclusions on their own land, which directly contradicts the intentions of the Agricultural Minister in 1973 when the ALC was created, note the B.C. Liberals.
B.C. Liberal Agricultural Co-Critic Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen, says Popham’s goal is to wrest control of agricultural land out of the hands of farmers and into the hands of the NDP.
“Although the NDP claim to be advancing the agricultural industry in British Columbia, what they have created over the last two years resembles something closer to medieval feudalism, where the rulers control the land and simply allow the farmers to work on it. It’s unfair to those who are just trying to make a living and keep their farms in the family for future generations to run,” says Larson.
Paton still lives on the farm that has been in his family for generations and is devastated to see the impact that the NDP’s policies have had on B.C. farming communities.
“John Horgan’s new taxes have made it more expensive than ever to be a farmer,” says Paton. “Farmers are being forced to cope with the triple-whammy effect of an increased minimum wage, a hike to the carbon tax, and a new Employer Health Tax— not to mention more stringent enforcement of ALC rules around agri-tourism events which help keep them afloat.”
Paton and Larson note all of this has been done without the appropriate amount of consultation that the industry deserves.