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Improved Agricultural Land Reserve Use Regulation part of StrongerBC Economic Plan


March 8, 2022
By Government of British Columbia

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British Columbians will soon be able to enjoy more locally produced food and farmers will have new opportunities to grow thanks to regulatory supports from the B.C. government. An improvement to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) Use Regulation is part of the StrongerBC Economic Plan that sets out to make British Columbia a global player in the agritech marketplace.

“Making B.C.’s food system more sustainable and resilient helps build a stronger economy and prosperous farming communities,” said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture, food and fisheries. “When the pandemic and recent climate change-related floods disrupted supply chains, British Columbians were reminded of the incredible bounty in our own back yard. Opening opportunities for more vertical farms and innovative agritech practices in partnership with existing traditional farms helps solve our overall food security and food economy puzzle.”

The regulation allows for more intensive farming, known as vertical farming, where crops are grown in vertically stacked layers, maximizing space and reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. While vertical farming can be placed anywhere, this opens the door to additional opportunities on ALR land for farmers and farm businesses to produce more food for British Columbians.

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The ALR is designed to ensure food security and these changes allow it to be used in a practical way to increase local food supply. For example, vertical farming and other controlled environment structures can also make smaller pieces of land that are currently fallow more viable to grow on.

“A key pillar of our StrongerBC Economic Plan is centred around fostering innovation to grow the economy while tackling climate change,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. “By opening up new opportunities for agritech companies to operate in B.C., we are positioning our province to be a world leader in finding innovative solutions to food security problems.”

The regulation is an important step toward making B.C. a leader in using technology and innovation in agriculture to reduce emissions, create new opportunities and ensure a secure and sustainable, local food supply. In the coming months, the province will also launch a new agritech centre of excellence to help companies grow and scale up, providing more high-quality, high-tech jobs for British Columbians.

Agritech operations use technology and innovation, such as robotics for harvesting or controlled indoor growing systems, to produce more sustainable food, while using fewer resources. Agritech farming contributes to a more resilient food system with increased product density and shorter growing times with the potential to increase crop yields, product quality and food security.