Nova Scotia’s Agriculture Minister Mark Parent and Richard Hurlburt, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations have announced that government will appoint an Agriculture Land Review Committee to help address issues surrounding the long-term future of the province’s agriculture land base.
Committee members, selected by the minister of agriculture, will include individuals with experience in agriculture and municipal affairs.
“The mandate of the Agriculture Land Review Committee is to provide advice on what steps should be taken, and what processes should be put into place, to preserve agriculture land while fairly representing the interests of all Nova Scotians,” said Mr. Parent.
“The committee will determine if adequate protection already exists or if there is a need to take special measures.”
The agricultural land base is under pressure from a number of sectors, including housing and recreational pursuits. The Department of Agriculture has a number of programs to assist farmers, help make farming more viable and attract new people to the industry.
“The province has a number of initiatives to help preserve agriculture land such as exempting farmland from municipal taxes and helping municipalities with the costs of this policy,” said Mr. Hurlburt. “We also have a statement of provincial interest in the Municipal Government Act that requires municipalities to preserve agricultural land during land-use planning exercises.”
Issues have been raised about if all prime agriculture land should be preserved, and how much land is required to produce the amount of food needed. The committee will also explore whether land uses for things such as homes, hospitals and daycares, which may be incompatible with agriculture operations, should be restricted in these areas, and examine the role society should play in preserving land.
The committee, chaired by Laurence Nason, former CEO, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, will begin its work in May. The internal working group on agricultural land, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, will support it.