Petition To Include Farm Weddings As A Form Of Agri-Tourism

Fraser Valley/Okanagan – There is now a petition that is circulating through social media and also posted on the Facebook page of the British Columbia Agri-Tourism Farming Association.

Started by Hailey Evans, the aim of the petition is clear. Stop the controversy between farmers, the ALC (Agricultural Land Commission) and the BC Ministry Of Agriculture over what can and can not be done on farm land to augment income. That would include farm weddings and other special events including Christmas hay rides, festivals, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and the like.

The petition can be found here.

Please help our farms stay alive!

Everyone loves buying fresh vegetables, organic meats and healthy foods. Sadly, this is getting more and more difficult and extremely expensive these days. Most of our foods are coming from China and other countries because it’s cheaper to buy highly processed, chemically treated and GMO foods from them, then it is to farm these items on our own land.

Farming income is almost impossible to survive on. Most farms need to incorporate Agri-Tourism and on-site farm sales, but even the income earned from this is very little.

The truth is, it’s very expensive to farm. Most of us do it because we love the life but studies are showing that as farmers are passing away, our children aren’t taking the farms over, but rather selling the land because they know how hard their parents worked all their lives and how little money they’ve ever had to show for it.

Over the years, many farms have opened up our barns to allow farm weddings. An incredible family event held in the most beautiful of locations allowing people from all over to gather at our farm. While the Bride and Groom are taking pictures, farmers get to offer on-site sales to the guests, give them farm tours showing them how things go from the ground to the store shelves, let them meet the animals. They love it!

Wedding income helps farmers put money back into our farms, expand crops, fix broken machines, hire local help, etc. If we’re lucky, they can pay the bills from year to year but that’s about it. If we have extra income you won’t see us driving around in fancy cars, you’ll see us buying a new tractor, a tractor that will be used for land and crops.

The government recognizes that farmers live in the poverty range, so they allow us to farm and as well as have an outside job (which most of us are forced to do to survive). We can work a 9-5 job in the city, taking us away from the farm, crops, livestock, etc, 5 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. But they don’t want us to find a way to bring in income right on here on our farms?

Weddings are a way to showcase our agri-tourism and allow us to earn income while staying on our farm 24/7, enabling us to fully care for animals and crops full time.

No one wants to see viable land turned into another mall or subdivision. But to restrict farm weddings? Why? And what’s next?

We pay regular income tax on the money earned and┬áhave lots of rules and bylaws to follow like everyone else. Weddings aren’t a good solution for everyone, but for those of us who wish to share our farms with couples wanting to get married in a barn, we believe that weddings are an excellent way to help us earn money and keep us farming our lands, and bring more local produce and awareness to our own communities.

Please sign our petition and help us get the Agricultural Land Commission to include weddings as a part of Agri-Tourism, help our farms survive!

You’re voice truly matters.

Thank you.

Back on December 6, Hailey posted this letter to FVN:

Hi,
I’ve been following the story of farm weddings for a while now, it’s so sad.

I just don’t understand why the ALC is doing this. I love that the ALC wants to protect our farm land, all of us farmers want to do the same. No one wants to see viable land turned into another mall or subdivision. But to restrict farm weddings? Why? And what’s next?

As a farmer, the government has instilled so many rules (and continues to do so) making small family farms like ours almost impossible to stay alive. Every time we turn around there’s higher costs and more rules and limitations, why are they trying to kill small farms?

Water and energy costs are sky rocketing, machinery costs are unbelievably high, and look at the recent jump in hay. Everything around us is making farming more and more difficult, and now they want to regulate (or take away) farm weddings?
I think long story short, the ALC should regulate land use and make sure we have viable farm land for our generation and all the ones to come. That should be their goal. Protecting the land and making sure we’re keeping it safe. That’s it.

The truth is, there’s NO money in farming. If we’re lucky, we can pay the bills from year to year but that’s about it. If us farmers have extra income you won’t see us driving around in fancy cars, you’ll see us buying a new tractor! Now THAT’S exciting to us! smile emoticon A tractor that will be used for our land and crops…a tractor paid for by weddings.

Another scary thought is what if the ALC allows farm weddings, but limits the amount of income we make. Why would they do that? How does that affect the land? It doesn’t. In fact, limiting the income we make limits the amount of money we can now put back into our farming. It’s a catch 22. I don’t think the ALC should be allowed to have any say in our income. Either we’re allowed weddings or we’re not. Why would you want to put limits on it?
Besides, when did regulating our income become an agenda for the ALC? Are they going to allow weddings? And if they are, are they going to make us get permits? Why? So they can earn money buy charging us for permits? So they can scare us with these permits? If we don’t do things their way are they going to make getting permits impossible? Are we going to have to constantly live in fear of them revoking the permits?
Instead of permits why not just make farmers ‘register’ as a farm that hosts weddings? That way, the ALC knows who we are and can perform evaluations as they need to make sure we’re not abusing farm land (which weddings don’t). Or make sure we’re only using a small portion of our land for weddings, not the whole farm.

THAT should be their main agenda, making sure farms are surviving and that the land is not being abused. As a farmer, I can assure you, we don’t WANT to abuse the land. We simply want a way to earn money so we can put it back into the farm and pay our bills.

In one news article I read that they estimate farm weddings bring in about $10 million to farmers, why wouldn’t they WANT that income going into the farming industry? Those farmers are going use that money to buy feed, machinery, livestock, crops, etc.
I definitely don’t believe the ALC should be allowed to say how much we can make from wedding income. I don’t think any farmer would object to showing the ALC how the wedding income is going back into their farming costs, why not make that a stipulation? Don’t limit our income, simply ask us to show you how it’s benefiting our farm.

The wedding income will only help support the farm industry where so many other rules are killing us.

Think about it…as a farmer, we’re allowed to get an outside job (which most of us are firced to do to survive because farming makes next to nothing). My husband and I can work a 9-5 job in the city, taking us away from the farm, crops, livestock, etc, 5 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. But they don’t want us to find a way to bring in income (farm weddings) right here on the ranch? And earn an ‘outside’ income in a way that keeps us on our farm 24/7, now enabling us to fully care for our animals and crops?
Another thing we’re scared about is the additional rules that the ALC might bring down if they do decide weddings are okay. Are they going to tell us what hours we can operate?

We already have rules in place by the city, we have to have business licences, insurance, they already regulate liquor and noise control. Why would the ALC have to make rules about all this too?

I have to be honest. If the ALC shuts us down, or starts instilling crazy rules then I would very definitely be talking with all the farmers in our same position and look at considering a class action law suit. I’m sorry, but if they take away our income from weddings, they’re already taking away everything we have and killing our farm. What choice would we have? Social media has already proven that there are more of us out there than we thought.

We need the wedding income to help our farm survive.
The ALC’s ONLY concern should be making sure we don’t abuse viable farm land. They are a LAND commission.

I think all farmers want their land protected, but let’s be honest, we are a dying breed. We need the ALC’s help, not more restrictions.

Thank you.

 

3 Comments on "Petition To Include Farm Weddings As A Form Of Agri-Tourism"

  1. Would Farm wedding venues be willing to pay the same property tax rate as established venues that are currently required to be on commercial property and pay commercial tax rates?

  2. Ann Soutar-Britton | December 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Reply

    Commercial taxation is certainly an option, but preserving farmers by allowing them to make a sustainable income really needs to be taken seriously. I am aware of 4 local farms who will sell if this regulation becomes a reality. These are NON quota farms, small family farms that supply us with produce, which is rapidly becoming scarce and unaffordable given the Canadian dollar and ongoing drought in California. I personally support our local farmers and the efforts they make to stay alive.

  3. I think the ALR is forgetting that they are supposed to be watching out for the LAND, I’m hearing questions about how much taxes we should be paying if we’re allowed weddings, and limiting the income to say that we have to earn less from weddings than we do from farming (but farming makes no money, so hows that for a handy catch 22 on their part). It really sounds like some form of government is behind all this ALR stuff because at no point does there seem to be talk of land concerns, only concerns about taxes and income…hmmm, food for thought? I don’t think limiting our income from farm weddings is a good idea from any side other than some kind of silly show of power. To be honest, I don’t think the ALR should have any say at all in how much we make from weddings, but if they want to see at least some kind of evidence that the income is being put back into the farm with livestock, crops, machinery, etc, then that’s okay, that’s a fair deal.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.