Ministry of Agriculture

Goals and Objectives

At the core of the Strengthening Farming Program is the goal of helping to secure farming and ranching's place in the communities of British Columbia. In doing so, the Program supports sustainable and economically viable agriculture and promotes the use of normal farm practices.

The Program's key objectives are to:

  • foster strong partnerships between local governments, the farm and ranching community and the province;

  • support the right to farm within the agriculture and licensed aquaculture areas of the province;

  • encourage a more prominent role for agriculture in local government planning processes and foster local government policy and regulation supporting farming;

  • improve land use compatibility between farm and non-farm uses;

  • encourage greater focus by local governments on the positive resolution of farm issues; and

  • improve agriculture awareness.
     

ContentsBeautiful scene of a BC dairy farm


Who is Involved?

While the BC Ministry of Agriculture (AGRI) administers the Program, it is jointly implemented by the Ministry and the Agricultural Land Commission. Local governments and the farming and ranching community, however, play pivotal roles in achieving the program objectives. Through legislative changes made in the mid-1990's, local governments now have greater opportunities and improved tools to protect and enhance farming.

British Columbia's farmland preservation program, the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), also provides a critical foundation upon which the Strengthening Farming Program rests.

Strengthening Farming

Strengthening Farming - Two Components

The Program has two distinct, but strongly related components:

Farm Practices Protection

The Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act underpins efforts to protect farm practices. The Act is founded on the principle that farmers have a right to farm in the ALR, in licensed aquaculture areas and other areas designated for farming by local governments. The right to farm, however, is contingent upon normal farm practices being used and compliance with other legislation such as the Health, Pesticide Control, and Waste Management Acts and other land use regulations.

A key component of farm practice protection is the creation of fair and balanced processes to consider concerns about nuisances associated with farm operations. Local governments, Ministry staff and industry peer advisors continue to participate in efforts to resolve concerns. The Act, however, also established a Farm Industry Review Board as an impartial body to consider complaints. The Board uses various means to resolve issues and it may also study and report on farm practices in order to improve long-term land use compatibility.
 

Planning for Agriculture

A second key component of the Program is broadly referred to as Planning for Agriculture. New legislative tools, housed in the Local Government Act and Land Title Act have been designed to provide local governments with the means to play an important role in ensuring a climate of security and stability for farming and ranching in their communities.

Opportunities to Plan for Agriculture include:

  • encouraging agricultural land use inventories and the application of geographic information system (GIS) technology to increase the understanding of farm systems and land use relationships;

  • ensuring greater land use compatibility at the time of urban subdivision next to farming;

  • encouraging policies in Official Community Plans (OCPs) aimed at maintaining and enhancing farming;

  • designating Development Permit Areas (DPAs) for the protection of farming within OCPs to improve compatibility;

  • appointing, by local governments, of agricultural advisory committees;

  • adopting Agricultural Area Plans in key farming communities;

  • encouraging focused planning at the urban / farm interface to improve land use compatibility and ensure a secure operating environment for the farm industry; and

  • reviewing zoning bylaws and using farm bylaws to ensure a balanced and positive regulatory climate that provides opportunity for the growth of faming and ranching in BC.

Coordination and Support

Coordination of the Strengthening Farming Program is provided by the Sustainable Agriculture Management Branch of Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.  Some financial support has been provided through the Province as well as the BC Investment Agriculture Foundation for "AgFocused" initiatives by local governments.  However, key support has come in the form of Provincial Agri-Teams as well as the development of several reports and guides.

The Agri-Teams are key to the Program's implementation.  Each local government with land in the ALR has access to a two or three person team made up of Ministry regional agrologists and the Agricultural Land Commission's planning staff.  When called upon, Agri-teams work with local governments to assist with a variety of agricultural matters including farm area land use inventories, official plan and bylaw reviews, development of agricultural area plans and edge planning, awareness building and support for agricultural advisory committees.

The formation of Agri-Teams underlies the importance placed upon building strong relationships between local governments, the farm and ranch sector and the province in efforts to Strengthen Farming in British Columbia.
 

More Information

Strengthening Farming Program...An Overview  (2005)