The new organization promotes that farmers work together and exercise their rights
By Kate Ayers
Rural residents recently created the Ponoka Right to Farm Society in Alberta. It aims to protect farmers’ rights in the county.
The launch of the group partly stems from Ponoka County’s quickly proposed changes to its municipal development plan. These changes could restrict or even prevent expansions of confined feeding zones (CFOs), a Bashaw Star article said yesterday.
“The county of Ponoka has moved too fast on presenting new area structure plans and municipal district plans,” John Hulsman, co-creator of the society, said to Farms.com today.
“They need to slow down and consult all of the stakeholders in the county because of the long-term ramifications these kinds of plans” can have.
Hulsman and Karen Pierik are working on the society’s registration process.
The organization’s mandate is: “striving for cooperation between all rural residents of Ponoka County to produce sustainable and responsible agriculture and future development for the benefit of the entire community,” Hulsman said.
“Our hope is that we become a representative group to have proper dialogue with the county in this process.”
The group includes farmers and industry stakeholders, but members also extend beyond the ag sector.
Some people interested in joining the society own land that is registered as country residential and do not have any affiliation with CFOs, Pierik said in the Star article.
The group wants to work with rural residents so that ag can co-exist with other land designations.
Challenges could arise with residents living right next to farms, such as concerns around manure spreading, the article said.
But being a good neighbour and ensuring open communication can help address any questions or concerns before they become issues, Pierik said.
The society is reaching out to a similar group in Fraser Valley for more information, the article said.
CFOs must abide by guidelines set out by the Natural Resources Conservation Board, and Alberta Environment and Parks.
“We are closely monitored in virtually everything we do,” Hulsman said in the article.
“The recent CFOs are far more monitored than anything previously.”
Most CFOs in the county are family farms, he added. The group could host open houses for the public, so they could see how farms operate.
For more information about the Ponoka Right to Farm Society, people can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous Farms.com coverage on Ponoka County’s decision on CFOs can be found here.