Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Farming important for the Township of Langley

One of my biggest concerns about the agricultural land reserve in Langley is that it is being chipped away at slowly by non-farm use permits and subdivision. Some people don’t have a problem with this because they don’t see farm land as important, but I do. The Township of Langley recently released the results of phase I and II of an Agricultural Viability Strategy that started back in 2010. The reports confirms that farming is very important for Langley.
Agriculture in Langley is characterized by a diversity of crops and livestock operations. It is a $257 million industry, with a total farm capital of $1.9 billion in 2006. The soils in Langley are highly suitable for agriculture. With improved irrigation or drainage, 75% of all ALR lands would be capable of achieving Class 1 to 3 type soils, which are considered the top classes for agricultural capability.
Over 55% of land in the ALR in Langley is being actively farmed with average gross receipts per farm increasing from $71,756 in 1985 to $176,812 in 2005.

One of the concerns brought forward in the reports is the amount of small-lots in the ALR that impact the viability of farming in Langley.
While there are fewer opportunities to develop viable farm operations on small lots, developing opportunities for small lots will have to be a priority moving forward in encouraging sustainable farm activity.
The Township of Langley has something called a “Small Farms/Country Estates” zone in the ALR which makes farming even less viable. In fact in phase two of the study identifies small lots as a barrier to farming.
Properties are not large enough to support a viable farm: Many reasons were cited why the land was not farmed. One of the most common reasons was the size and suitability of the land for farming.
It will be very exciting to see the recommendation of the Agricultural Viability Strategy as they are now starting work on phase III.
Clearly, the agriculture industry is economically, environmentally and socially important to the Township of Langley. It makes a major economic contribution and occupies 75% of the land base. Agriculture in the Township produces a significant portion of the region’s food supply as well as providing valuable green space and habitat. The climate, resources and proximity to Vancouver are very positive factors for the long term health of agriculture in the Township.

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