Fraser Valley -The discussion paper deadline for submissions and debate was extended from November 30, 2015 to January 15, 2016. As of January 10, there was no sign of another extension.

In the back rooms, FVN has learned there has been meetings between many levels of government as well as farmers and their representatives, that the extension/discussion continue to at least March 30th or later.

The main argument is to clarify wording of the paper, plus relaxing rules so that farms could host special events such as weddings, to augment farm income and pay the bills.

The push-back to this could be coming from a number of sources including the tourism industry who are concerned about their own loss of income to farm weddings.

The other main stumbling block appears to be what taxes the tourism industry pays as opposed to the relaxed tax breaks that farms receive.

DECEMBER 1 ORIGINAL STORY –  It appears the BC Ministry of Agriculture and the ALC Agriculture Land Commission have reacted to media and public pressure on their discussion paper regarding weddings and other events on farms.

STK_Ag Tourism Farm Wedding  3

The deadline for a discussion paper was November 30, however many farmers claimed they were never in the consultation process.

Many farmers including Fantasy Farms among others, banded together to create awareness. This started from a cease and desist order to an Abbotsford Farm, that they could not organize a wedding on their farm as that would be contrary to the spirit of what the ALC deems appropriate for their property.

That would have wide ranging implications for not just weddings on farms, it could effect festivals and other gatherings on farm land. The wording (such as it is) could extend to wineries with restaurants and accommodations as well as ranches.

The original story is here.

Such events would supplement farmers income. Just hours after a media blitz was launched Tuesday morning, the Ag Ministry released a statement on their website:

“The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture is working with local governments to provide greater regulatory clarity regarding agri-tourism, agri-tourism accommodation, and farm retail sales in the Agricultural Land Reserve. There has been significant interest in this topic and the consultation has been extended to midnight PST, January 15, 2016 to ensure local governments have adequate time to respond. Agri-tourism operators will also have the opportunity to provide their feedback.”

The Agri-Service website can be found here.

The farmers group have yet to hear directly from the Ministry of Agriculture despite repeated requests.

One thought on “UPDATE – Pressure From Farmers Extends Deadline On Discussion Paper Over Farm Weddings”
  1. 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 forced 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.

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