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Province to 'update' Lands Protection Act over winter, says minister

P.E.I.'s agriculture minister told a meeting of the National Farmers Union Thursday that his government will have an announcement soon on the future of the Lands Protection Act.
 
"The LPA, the Lands Protection Act, is a hot topic for us," said Bloyce Thompson after the meeting. "The Lands Protection Act 2.0 I'm calling it.
 
"It's going to be a modernization and update. I don't want to call it a review. We've had enough reviews done of it. It does work. It just needs to be updated and improved." 
 
The legislation puts limits on how much farmland individuals and corporations can own. Thompson said work on the act would, in part, address the issue of corporate land purchases.
 
"Over the summer I've heard a lot. A lot of farmers pulled me aside ... and it's not only farmers. It is the public," said Thompson. "They care about their land and they care about the agriculture business as well and so do I as a farmer myself, I know the importance of protecting our land."
 
'Impacts the future'
 
A sale of farmland earlier this year in Bedeque brought things to a head. That sale had previously been turned down under the act, but through a series of corporate transactions, the land changed hands. 
 
"If our land is owned by a very small number of people ... it really impacts the future for here," said Reg Phelan, regional director of the NFU.
 
"For younger farmers wanting to get in, it's pretty difficult for them to compete with these much larger operations."
 
The province plans to work on the act through this coming winter, according to Thompson. He said he also intends to meet with Green Opposition agriculture critic Michele Beaton.
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