Three principal, related ingredients are required to maintain a healthy agricultural industry:
- maintaining the significant agricultural land base with a support infrastructure;
- providing security for agricultural activities and reducing uncertainty, conflicts, and risk for the farming community;
- providing a mechanism for the long-term succession of farm properties to encourage the next generation to enter the industry.
A number of other items have a bearing on a healthy industry. The public needs to be educated about the role of agriculture in the region - its extent, its opportunities, the value it adds to quality of life and the implications related to its potential loss.
Clearly articulated federal and provincial agricultural policies will provide certainty to the farming community. Knowledgeable bureaucrats to assist with legislative requirements and a commitment to research will move the industry forward. The province should consider revisions to the propertyntax system to support agriculture.
Commitment to the merits of preserving the significant agricultural land base and developing the mechanisms to support the industry is required at all political levels. Planning policies that allow farmers to respond to changing markets while protecting the land base and managing conflicting uses are required. A property tax system that is based on productive value should be implemented. This should be accompanied by reasonable tax policies that support the bona fide farmer and do not punish innovation.
Long-term financial security for the farming industry is critical to ensuring that new people continue to move into farming and ensuring that pressure is taken off farmers to sell their farms for non-agricultural uses.