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B.C. councillor pushing for a farmland trust in the Capital Region

Dean Murdock wants to give young farmers access to land

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

With an aging farmer population and land in British Columbia going unused, a councillor in the District of Saanich is spearheading a movement to create a farmland trust, giving young farmers access to the land they need.

Dean Murdock said the farmland trust would be funding used specifically to purchase farmland that’s become unproductive.

"We don't want to see that happen, so we're suggesting maybe we can pool resources to purchase those lands and put them in the hands of young farmers who maybe can't afford to get on the land themselves because especially here in the capital region, that farmland is quite expensive," he told CBC’s All Points West.

The farmland trust would differ from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), which prevents farmland from being sold off. The ALR doesn’t keep the land in production.

According to Farm Folk City Folk,not for profit society that works to cultivate a local, sustainable food systemfarmland in the capital region can reach over $100,000 per acre.

A December 2 report submitted at a District of Saanich council meeting outlines the rationale for the farmland trust’s creation. The reasons include:

  • A 2012 study by the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable suggests nearly 50 per cent of farmland in the region sits idle;
  • More than half of farmers in B.C. are over 55 and likely to retire in the next 20 years;
  • Farmland used for residential, transportation, recreation and other non-farm uses causes farmland prices to increase, and
  • Higher land prices prevent younger farmers from accessing land.

Farms.com has reached out to Mr. Murdock for further comments about the possibility of a farmland trust, and to Young Agrarians, a network of young people involved in agriculture.


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