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Farmers fight for future

B.C. farmers are worried changes to provincial legislation that took effect in February will negatively impact the future of their farms. 
 
On Monday, dozens of farmers joined the BC Liberal MLAs to ask Premier John Horgan and Agriculture Minister Lana Popham to repeal the legislation.
 
The changes encompassed by Bill 52 prevent farmers from having a secondary non-farm-use dwelling for immediate family and limit the size of residences significantly.   
 
Farmer Meghan McPherson says the government is making it clear it is more concerned with use of the land than the effectiveness or well being of the farmers themselves. 
 
“The recent act changes by the NDP create barriers for entry-level farmers, add financial burdens for current farmers, insecurity for retiring farmers and trample on the rights of existing farmers. Government’s role should be to support the rights of farmers, not stifle them," she said.
 
Liberal MLAs introduced two private members bills on Monday.
 
Laurie Throness, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent, introduce the Trespass Amendment Act 2019. If passed, it would provide extra protection for people who live and work on farms as well as their livestock and property.
 
The Home-Based Craft Food Act, introduced by Delta South MLA Ian Paton, would allow small home-based businesses to make and sell low-risk food products like jams or bread direct to consumers from their farmland.
 
“This bill is about creating value-added opportunities, fostering new micro-businesses and enabling farmers to support their families by using products from their own farms without impacting valuable farmland,” said Paton. “With the bevy of land-use and farming restrictions laid down by the NDP, this bill would provide farmers a chance to utilize their resources and share them with all British Columbians.
 
"Bill 52 has done nothing but tear communities apart and put farmers out of work, which is why we are calling on the NDP to repeal it. Farmers deserve to be protected by government, not persecuted by it.”
 
More than 26,000 farmers have signed a petition calling for Bill 52 to be repealed.
 
About 70 Kelowna producers gathered Oct. 10 to voice their concerns over the changes. One of the most resounding pieces of feedback was that the ministry needs a better way to communicate to landowners about changes that affect them. 
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