Farm Practices Protection
A key component of the Strengthening Farming program involves the province’s Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act (FPPA) legislation which underpins efforts to protect current farm practices.
Land within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), areas where land is zoned by local governments for farming, and licensed aquaculture areas, represent locations in B.C. where farming is a priority and specifically permitted. The FPPA protects a farmer's right to farm within these significant areas of the province.
The Right to Farm
Farm practice protection involves the creation of fair and balanced processes to consider concerns about nuisances associated with farm operations. Local governments, First Nations, ministry staff and industry peer advisors continue to participate in efforts to resolve concerns.
The protection provided by the FPPA specifically relates to nuisances such as odour, noise, dust or other disturbances. The right to farm is, however, not automatic. It requires that:
- A farm operation use ‘normal farm practices’ (as defined by the FPPA) or practices as may be prescribed by Cabinet regulation; and
- The operation does not contravene other legislation (Environmental Management Act, Integrated Pest Management Act, and Public Health Act.) or any land use regulation
When a farm operation follows these requirements, the farmer is not liable to any person and cannot be prevented by an injunction or court order from any nuisance related to the operation of the farm. For farm operations conducted in the ALR or in a licensed aquaculture area that observe the points noted above, the farmer also does not contravene local government bylaws related to animal control, noise and nuisance if related to the farm operation.
In the last 25 years, B.C.'s population has grown by more than 60 percent. At the same time, agriculture has also grown. In contrast to national trends that saw the number of farms and the amount of land being farmed decline nationally between 1976 and 2001, B.C. saw increases in farms (4.4%) and land in farm use (5.6%).
The result is more people and more farming, most often having to be accommodated in the same valley bottoms. As the population grows, many people move into neighbourhoods adjacent to traditional farm areas and others move into rural areas. Some non-farm residents may have concerns about farm practices which create dust, odour, noise or other disturbances. Farmers also have concerns with trespass, theft of crops, increased traffic on rural roads, water run-off from urban areas and litter. It can be anticipated that these issues will only continue to arise.