CORRECTED, Feb. 28, 2017 — The Newfoundland and Labrador government plans to boost the amount of land available to the province’s farmers by allocating more Crown land for development.
The province’s Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods announced Thursday it has now identified 62 “agriculture areas of interest” to date, totalling about 158,150 acres.
The added 43 areas of Crown land will mark a “significant increase” from the 19 areas already reserved for development, totalling about 38,300 acres, the province said.
“We consulted with farmers, municipalities and other stakeholders who had a great deal of knowledge and interest in this initiative,” Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods Minister Steve Crocker said in a release.
Increasing ag production in the province, he said, is also expected to “help farmers and producers reduce costs and dependency on imported dairy forage and grain.”
Also, Premier Dwight Ball said in the same release, “by making Crown land throughout the province available for agriculture development, we are helping farmers expand their operations and encouraging new entrants to see agricultural production as a viable and profitable opportunity.”
Increasing the amount of Crown land for farm use in the province was a recommendation in The Way Forward, the government’s vision document for economic development and improved efficiency, released in November.
The province also pledged in the document to provide Crown lands applications online and to have “new, publicly available, streamlined approval processes” in place, both in 2018. Its Crown Lands administration division today gets about 80 applications per year for agricultural development alone.
“By streamlining the application process it readily makes land available to all agricultural producers but most importantly to young farmers,” said David Simmons, who operates Pure Holsteins Ltd., where the province made its announcement Thursday, at Little Rapids, east of Corner Brook.
According to The Way Forward, Newfoundland and Labrador is now only about “10 per cent self-sufficient” in non-supply managed agrifood requirements.
“It is critical that our province makes significant progress towards food security in light of the global food crisis projected by 2050.” — AGCanada.com Network
CORRECTION, Feb. 28, 2017: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated 62 areas of Crown land had been identified for farm use in addition to, rather than including, the 19 areas already reserved for development. Steve Crocker, now minister of fisheries and land resources, said Feb. 28 the province is “progressing toward making much of the remaining 43 areas available in the very near future.”