ALR changes discouraging young farmers

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s MLA report to the 100 Mile Free Press

The Rusted Rake Farm was an ideal roadside restaurant that brought locally grown produce to the table for the local residents and tourists from all over the world.

With so few young people choosing agriculture for a living, the young couple that owned the 7.2 hectare working farm in Nanoose Bay raised a variety of mixed vegetables, fruit, beef, wheat and barley.

It was a popular meeting spot in a small community, and just the type of thing we need to support the next generation of farmers and entrepreneurs in our province. That is, until NDP Agriculture Minister Lana Popham caught wind of it.

Hundreds of people from across Vancouver Island gathered at the Rusted Rake for its final day in business on Sunday.

Owners Jodie Lucas and Will Gemmell became the latest victims of the regressive changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve instigated by the NDP since they returned to power a little more than two years ago.

“It means 15 people have lost their jobs today,” said Lucas. “Staff who have committed themselves to us. A community loses this establishment. I lose my job. It’s heartbreaking.”

Wishing to turn back history to the 1970s when the ALR was first imagined, Popham has been making life difficult for anyone wanting to pass their land, and their way of life, on from one generation to the next.

For example, the NDP are putting up roadblocks to anyone who wants to build a second home on their property in order to accommodate family members who want to take over farm operations, yet still leave their parents living in place.

At a time when the average age of a farmer in B.C is 56 years old, we shouldn’t be discouraging young people from putting locally produced food on the table.

For the Rusted Lake Farm, unfortunately, it’s already too late.

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