Making It Pay

Also see "Making it Work"

Making It Pay

Multi-family Farm Housing

After investigating this issue, the Project Team decided to set it aside as being too complex and conflicted to pursue in the time frame of the Growing Green project.

Link to PDF documents

Farmland Trusts

Growing Green explored with organizations like The Land Trust Alliance and The Land Conservancy the concept of investing in working farms for conservation purposes. This would mean supporting farms that already provide remarkable ecological services and farmers who show commitment to high environmental standards.

Growing Green prepared and presented a paper entitled Natural Allies: Land Trusts and Working Farms to the July 2, 2003 AGM of The Land Trust Alliance and began work with potential farm and conservation trust partners (including District A Farmers’ Institute and The Land Conservancy) on the development of a pilot farmland trust project for Salt Spring Island.

Link to PDF documents

Conservation Covenants

Land trust organizations often work with farmers who wish to register conservation covenants on their properties. BC’s 2002 Agricultural Land Commission Act says "a covenant that prohibits the use of agricultural land for farm purposes has no effect until approved by the Commission." Many trust organizations wrote to the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to object to this section on the grounds that it would further discourage efforts of farmers to register conservation covenants on properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Growing Green addressed issues related to conservation covenants in its work on farmland trusts.

Link to PDF documents

Regulated Marketing for Organics

Small-scale farmers (particularly organic farmers) argue that although many support the principle of supply-managed marketing, the administration of existing supply-managed marketing schemes (specifically for chicken, eggs, broiler hatching eggs, milk and turkey) fails to serve them. They argue that their products are fundamentally different from those of conventional producers and should therefore not be regulated as if they are the same. Farmers who want to integrate their farms by producing multiple products want to reduce the multiple regulatory burden of reporting to several different marketing boards. Fees and levies associated with supply management schemes are too onerous for small farmers, and cost of quota is prohibitive for small farms and new entrants.

These concerns and related materials are now summarized on a Web site launched by friends of BC organic farmers in November 2003: see www.organics.bc.ca.

Following a presentation to the Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) Annual General Meeting in February 2003, Growing Green worked with a small advisory committee of organic farmers and, after meetings with industry opinion leaders and provincial regulatory officials, prepared a short "blueprint for change" policy proposal in July 2003. The COABC advisory committee, working with representatives of the organics industry, went on to develop a project entitled the Growing the Organic Supply Managed Sector Initiative. This is a consultative initiative to research and develop models for improving the current systems for regulating production/marketing of organic egg, chicken, turkey and milk products.

In the same time frame, the BC Farm Industry Review Board (FIRB), the supervisory and appellate agency responsible for marketing boards in British Columbia, instigated a review of specialty production programs in the five supply-managed commodities. Growing Green helped facilitate links between the FIRB, the five marketing boards involved in the review, and the work of the COABC Initiative.

Link to PDF documents

Short-term Leases

Growing Green heard from farmers that although the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission states that a farmer can register a short-term lease on part of a property on Agricultural Land Reserve land, this practice is in fact denied because of court decisions. The result is that a person wishing to secure his or her investment in fencing and irrigation on leased land is unable to do so by registering the lease against the owner’s title.

Growing Green’s initial approach was to seek an amendment to the Land Title Act or Agricultural Land Reserve Act to lift the onerous application of section 73 (requiring subdivision) that removed options and flexibility for landlords and tenants leasing farmland.

Legal research showed, however, that there are valid concerns on both sides of this issue and that a "legislative fix" is not easy to identify. There would probably need to be considerably more evidence that this issue posed a significant impediment to farmers to justify special treatment under the Land Title Act.

There are alternatives for meeting some of the interests expressed. For example, when it comes to financing farm operations, planted crops can be treated as personal property for the purposes of security arrangements under the Personal Property Security Act.

Link to PDF documents

Ecological Services

The Galey Farm in Victoria is a good example of potential for "quadruple wins" for the farmer, the municipality, the public and the environment, when a drainage ditch on the farm was restored to a stream in "properly functioning condition." This case provides a number of important policy lessons including: (1) the project went ahead in spite of some policy constraints (e.g. DFO fisheries window) and was an acknowledged success (2) the importance of farm and all government personnel (three levels) working collaboratively (3) the potential for development of local government policy mechanisms that provide tangible benefits to farmers in return for public benefits they provide.

Growing Green partnered with the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria to examine this case in a March 2003 day-long workshop entitled Governance and Environmental Services Provided by Farmers and Freshwater Systems. The workshop included a presentation on properly functioning condition of streams; site visits to the Galey Farm and the Vancouver Island Technology Park (a former hospital that has been retrofitted to a specific standard under the LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program); and a facilitated discussion.

Growing Green was interested in potential policy solutions to reward farmers in useful ways for their contribution to public goods, and produced a paper on Incentives for Good Environmental Management, a roundup of incentive programs from around the world. From this, Growing Green identified a number of promising avenues and potential connections, for example between current environment and agriculture programs in BC like the Environmental Farm Plan Program and industry-led environmental building/design programs like LEED.

Link to PDF documents