The province plans is preparing to explore options for accommodating value-added activities within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“We’ll be working on a workplan around the economic diversification policy options which include the agritourism, processing and on-farm food and beverage services,” Anna North, an assistant director, policy, with the BC Ministry of Agriculture, told the Certified Organic Associations of BC at the end of February.
The initiative is a result of last fall’s consultation on strengthening farming in the ALR, which highlighted demand for greater leeway in terms of value-added activities.
Current regulations permit agritourism, processing and retail uses on farmland, but agritourism must be ancillary to farming activities.
The changes would address considerations such as the general rule requiring a farm to derive at least half its sales from its own products. Various limitations regarding on-farm events, have been contentious for producers who are actively farming but also generating income from other uses of the property.
A regular concern voiced in public meetings last fall was the need for greater slaughter capacity in the province. While not regulated by the Agricultural Land Commission, slaughterhouses were seen as an important processing activity that should enjoy broader support.
“We are looking at some changes to the meat inspection [regime],” North said. “Expanding that would give more people opportunities to have economic advantages to their farms.”
A timeline has not been set for completion of the workplan or its recommendations.