OPINION: Minister cares little for those who work the land

A response by Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett to Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham’s letter

To the editor,

In response to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham’s letter that appeared in the Dec. 5 edition, I will refrain from her personal attacks of “falsely stoking fear” and providing “misleading information” and simply stick to the facts.

Firstly, ranchers and farmers from around the province converged on the Legislature on Oct. 28 in direct protest against Bills 15 and 52 because this new legislation is designed to severely restrict a landowner from constructing secondary residences and passing their land along to younger generations of family. It is one thing to protect farmland, but who is protecting the farmers?

Secondly, if indeed Minister Popham was not considering the use of satellites to monitor activity on land contained within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), then why was it necessary on Nov. 18 for the minister to temporarily “pull back a recent Notice of Intent about using satellite technology” and furthermore claim that “There is more work to be done before moving forward on such a project, including hearing from people with concerns” (source: Victoria Times Colonist Nov. 19, 2019).

Thirdly, if farmers and ranchers do indeed enjoy the right to earn a little bit more from their land through value-added businesses, then why is Minister Popham sending in enforcement officers to shutdown Christmas sleigh rides, beer and wine-tasting events and retail food outlets that feature product grown on-site?

If there is anyone stoking fear and providing misleading information, it would be a minister that cares little for those who work the land, and is far more concerned about state-run control of private property.

Cariboo-Chilcotin

MLA Donna Barnett

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