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Canada: University maps agriculture in British Columbia

Less than five per cent of B.C. is suitable for farming.

Of that precious percentage, only half of the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is actively farmed.

Research released by the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) was motivated by soaring costs and competing uses of farmland.

The white paper, Protection is not enough: Policy precedents to increase the agricultural use of British Columbia’s farmland, calls for policy reform to promote farming in the ALR, and explores a number of policy precedents from other regions, that could be adapted in B.C. to address this issue.

“Many of the policies presented challenge entrenched perspectives about property rights, land ownership, the sanctity of the free market ideal, the weighing of private interests against maintenance of public commons, as well as the role of government in conserving them,” said Dr. Kent Mullinix, director of the ISFS. “Critically examining and shifting many such perspectives will absolutely be necessary if we are to effectively address the challenge of food system sustainability and food security in the 21st century.”

The ISFS team began their intensive policy research in the summer of 2017, reviewing over 50 policy precedents from across Canada and internationally, but acknowledge that even more research is required to better understand how these policies can best be implemented, monitored, enforced, and remain relevant and effective in the long term.

The ultimate goal of the ISFS research is to present instructive policy precedents to start a conversation and promote policy development that addresses the underutilization of B.C.’s agricultural land. 

“We explore policies that may otherwise be overlooked, or not readily imagined, in our current socio-economic-political environment,” added Mullinix. “We hope to stimulate the necessary debate and conversation that will move the stewardship of our agricultural land forward. The ALR has been effective in protecting agricultural land. Now it’s time to move beyond preservation. We need agricultural land to be used as intended and contribute to our sustainable future.”

The white paper, the brief, and the appendix are available at the KPU ISFS website:

Publication date: 3/6/2018



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