"The Importance of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve"…by Ameena Mayer


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The Importance of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve

– Ameena Mayer

Poor is the man whose pleasures depend upon the permission of another. Indeed, self-sustainability is one of the many roads a country can follow that leads to happiness, and BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve plays an integral role in allowing Canada to take this path. Created approximately thirty years ago to eradicate the loss of 13,000 acres of farmland a year to the destructive cause of urban development, it protects 21,000 food processing industries and farms while providing over 200,000 jobs, a strong buffer zone against urban sprawl, habitats hospitable to biodiversity, millions of dollars a year for the economy, and most importantly, BC’s ability to be 60% self-sufficient in terms of food. Although the benefits of this reserve are blindingly apparent, the provincial government is considering transforming a portion of it into business parks and subdivisions. In addition, it wishes to let local governments preside over the ALR, which would place its fate in the hands of overly powered individuals.

Imagine all that tender, green life-producing land as pavement, all so a privileged few can hear the empty clank of coins in their coffers. And once one part is dismantled, an ugly precedent will be set, catalyzing the disappearance of even more farmland. This will negatively impact not only the people of BC,but the world at large. A decrease in local food production inevitably leads to a frenetic reliance on the increasingly unstable and corrupt international food market. One only has to glance at the corporate takeover of Latin American countries by the US to witness how globalization and free trade, spawned in part by a refusal to buy local and remain self-sufficient, exploit workers and destroy lives, all the while increasing fossil fuel emissions from the transport of these goods to places thousands of miles away. As it is, the ALR is only 5% of the province, and every precious acre counts toward ensuring Canada’s food stability. As members of a democracy, there is much we can do to aid in the protection of our farmlands-purchasing locally grown food, writing letters to the government, circulating petitions and bringing our concerns to our municipal councils to name a few. While the government twiddles its fingers over documents and figures, trying to find a way to add a little more gray to our province, we must decide whether we wish to walk with our own legs or amputate them and those of others to fill our stomachs.

References

Parkins, Keith. “Free Trade Area of the Americas”. www.heureka.clara.net. 2003

Smart Growth BC. “Agricultural Fact Sheet and
Background”. www.smartgrowth.bc.ca. 2005

Smart Growth BC. “Farmland Protection Makes Cents”. www.smartgrowth.bc.ca. 2005

Tingle, Jim. “Protection of Water and Soil in Northern BC’s Agricultural Industry”. www.city.pg.bc.ca. 1999

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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One thought on “"The Importance of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve"…by Ameena Mayer”

  1. champions of neoliberal free trade, our friends working in the United States Trade Representative‘s office are quite keen on free trade around the planet, except when it comes to things like domestic US textiles and agriculture, which they continue to exempt from trade talks and subsidize to the point of making developing countries unable to develop their economies by exporting food and clothing to the US. free trade, except for when it hurts the US. gotta love the hypocrisy.

    but the question is why is the US protecting its agriculture? beyond the economic imperative is the idea of food security: it is important to be able to feed yourself in times of global strife. we cannot be dependent on international food shipments during war.

    but it’s this very thing that the US/EU and other western capitalist imperialists have foisted on developing countries: cash crop economies where they are forced to convert subsistence agriculture to export crop production, allowing…so the theory goes…foreign currency to buy basic foodstuffs: the exact food insecurity that wealthy countries avoid. what’s good for us in food security is not good for them: no wonder there is famine.

    ultimately, the US [and Canada and the EU, etc.] has its way, like it is with the Central American Free Trade Agreement [CAFTA], where one document, Opportunities for Agriculture, show how wonderful it will be for US agribusiness to colonize Central America all over again. it’s hard to see a place for Central American countries to excel in a trade “deal” like this.

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