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PEI farmers want loosening of land ownership rules


February 14, 2012
By The Canadian Press

Topics

February
7, 2012, Charlottetown, PEI – The Prince Edward Island Federation of
Agriculture is calling for legal changes that would permit farm firms to buy
larger amounts of land on the Island.

February
7, 2012, Charlottetown, PEI – The Prince Edward Island Federation of
Agriculture
is calling for legal changes that would permit farm firms to buy
larger amounts of land on the Island.

The
federation recently passed a resolution calling for individual ownership of
arable land to increase from 400 to 600 hectares and for corporations to be
permitted to increase total land ownership from 1200 to 1800 hectares.

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The
ownership restrictions are currently in place through the 30-year-old Land
Protection Act.

Federation
chair Bertha Campbell said the law needs to change to allow farmers to increase
their competitiveness and permit them to avoid using lands that aren’t suitable
for cultivation.

The
original legislation was passed in 1980 in an effort to prevent large
agriculture corporations from acquiring too much property on the Island.

However,
Campbell says the number of small farms has decreased despite the law.

Thirty
years ago, there were almost 1,000 dairy farms in P.E.I., but that number has
dwindled to less than 200 operations providing the same amount of milk
production.

There
were about 825 potato farms in 1982 with an average size of 32 hectares, while
today there are 275 potato operations with an average size of 124 hectares.

Campbell
said consolidation in agriculture has happened mainly due to decreasing
margins, which means farmers require a larger land base in order to sustainably
operate.