Minister Doucet announced the long awaited Agricultural Land Policy on January 19th. This policy is the result of years of consultations and pushing from the agriculture sector to protect our farmland. It has three main policy statements:
- The Protection and Preservation of Agricultural Land
- The Enhancement and Development of Agricultural Land
- Guiding Principles for Land Use Planning
You can read the whole policy on the gnb.ca website. On the whole, the NFU-NB is pleased to see this policy become a reality and we are eagerly awaiting the next steps towards its implementation.
The policy does not address all the concerns that were raised in the public consultation process including changes to the Farm Land Identification Program and ensuring that the Topsoil Preservation Act become enforceable. Working groups are being developed to address these concerns specifically.
Another main concern that the NFU-NB brought forward in our submission from December 2015 to the Agricultural Land Policy Consultation was the issue of Foreign and Investment ownership of farmland. At the time, we were questioned strongly as to why we wanted ownership of NB farmland to remain in the hands of those who work it. The NFU has fairly extensive research in this area, as was demonstrated in the 2015 Losing Our Grip Report. We have continued to advocate that farmland ownership needs to remain in the hands of farmers – not corporations nor investment firms. Movement forward is in progress, and it now appears that there is agreement among both general farm organizations on this issue. We are proud to have brought this issue to the forefront and are pleased to continue working on it to ensure the proper policy changes reflect the will and needs of all New Brunswick of farmers.